Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode · 9 months ago

Jesus on Justification

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Christian McArthur

Being sacrifice where a lamb would be slain on the altar to propitiate or or a tone for the sins of the people. And this man is looking from a distance at this sacrifice and he's calling for God to provide the only means for him to be considered righteous, a sacrifice that's totally outside of himself, something from God that would atone for his sins. And with this, this contrast between the PHARISEE and the Publican gets a lot more interesting. You see a Pharisee who turns to his own law, keeping, his own good works, his own spotless reputation, to find right standing before God, whereas this publican points to a sacrifice on his behalf that might give him right standing before...

God. He looks to a righteousness that is completely outside of himself, as Luther called an alien righteousness. And it is this propitiation, I would argue, that is the main character of the parable and, as we know, as we continue reading the Gospels, the propitiation is the narrator himself, Jesus, as we know that these temple sacrifices are ultimately pointing forward to the once for all propitiation for our sins the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for US forgiveness to all who would trust in him and faith, all who would turn from their obvious and blatant sins, but also from the insidious sin of resting in our...

...own good deeds, to repent of Sin and self righteousness and turn in faith to Jesus, the sacrificial lamb come to take away the sins of the world. It would seem here that the idea of justification by faith is not an invention of Paul and Romans, is it? That's taught right here in the gospels, Jesus teaching it to us that saving righteousness, justification must come from outside of us. It must be given to us, something that the sinner in this story understands but the righteous man doesn't. Well, we are good Protestants here right. We understand this idea of justification by faith. We agree...

...with Luther, who said that it was the article on which the Church stands. or false. We say Amen to Calvin, who says that it's the principal article of the Christian religion. This is important, really important. The doctrine that says we are made righteous not by our own works but by Christ's work on our behalf, granted to us by faith alone. We say yes and amen to this. But let me ask you this this morning, some little fought experiment. Let's say this Publican came back to the temple the next week, seven days later, and had not changed anything about his behavior. He continues to defraud the same people, he continues in the same wretched profession...

...and he comes back with the same repentance, beating the same sinful chest, asking for God to make up for the sins that he seems unwilling or unable to mortify. All the while we are doing our darndest to live a holy life, and let's say Jesus continues to send this man away justified. Well, that's troubling, isn't it? That doesn't feel right. Now, before you start sending emails to pastor about this, I'm not suggesting that that's how we act. I'm not suggesting that we should neglect the pursuit of a holy life. I'm not suggesting that good works aren't really evidence of saving faith. These things are true, but the truth of the matter is we, like...

...the Pharisee, even maybe not as blatantly, like to come to God each week with an improved report card, and we so often do this by comparing our card to those around us, those who can't seem to get it together. You know the ones, the ones who aren't as good at parenting, the ones who are impatient and their relationships, the ones who make impulsive decisions. We like to justify ourselves by pointing at them and saying what, I'm glad I am not like that. And we do it constantly, and I would argue that in doing that we show our own need to justify ourselves by our own actions. Perhaps we don't pray it out loud, but we think...

...to ourselves, thank you God, that I am not like them, and in doing so we prove to ourselves and others that we trust, at least to some degree, are and our own semblance of righteousness. But if we're honest with ourselves, we too return week after week with the same old sin, the same old selfishness that plagues our decisions, the same old impatience that casts a shadow over our relationships, the same lustful thoughts and actions that we try so hard to cover up. But we try hard, don't we? And by trusting in any level of our own righteousness, by comparing ourselves to...

...others. We run into the warning at the end of the passage that he who exalts himself, who sees himself as righteous, will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted. As we conclude our want, I want to consider something for a moment. Like like I said, this passage isn't firstly about pride and humility, but as we see, it's certainly connected, isn't it? It's firstly about righteousness and how one is justified before a holy God. But in teaching us about righteousness, Jesus gives us everything we need to be humble, and he does it by telling us what it looks like to be a Christian, one who is saved and justified by faith. Jesus shows us here that a model Christian is not necessarily one who appears righteous,...

...but one who is so needy that he or she continually falls on the righteousness of Christ on their behalf. We often have in our heads the idea of what a perfect church goer looks like. It probably looks a lot like the PHARISEE, but Jesus turns it on its head and says, you know what a model citizen of my kingdom looks like. It looks like one who is well aware that they have nothing to contribute to their salvation except for the sin that makes it necessary, one who shows up with need over contribution. And that is who we are, isn't it? Those who come with need, need for a righteousness outside of ourselves. And this morning Christ comes to...

...us who are humbled this day, to people who have nothing to hand over him except for our unrighteousness, and he offers righteousness his own. He offers a propitiation, a covering of our sins. He offers to turn away the wrath of the father and grant us his own righteousness, as first John tells us, if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. But if we confess our sins, he is what faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. And and how does this work? Because Jesus, Christ the righteous, is the propitiation for our sins, as John will say, not only for ours but the sins of the whole world. Jesus is the ATT owning,...

...sacrifice and the Alien Righteousness that we need that righteousness that comes to us from the outside, that sacrifice that is sufficient to cover those besetting sins that we try to hide, and also sufficient to atone for every attempt at selfrighteousness that stands between us and the grace of God freely given to us and his son, Jesus Christ, he who knew no sin, became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God, that we might be declared righteous, declared justified. Oh what glorious news that is for sinners like you and me, desperate for something completely outside of ourselves. So this morning, in...

...light of this, let us set aside any attempt of selfrighteousness that would cause us to show contempt to others who send differently than we do. Let us draw near together, sinners in need of grace, and let us, with common need, hold to this Common Confession Christ and him crucified for you and for me. Let's pray together.

In-Stream Audio Search

NEW

Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (599)