Lessons from Luke

Don’t let your past sins shame you but do let them remind you that it is only by God’s mercy that you are forgiven

Do You Know you are a Sinner? Part II

Key Verse: Luke 5:32

“I have come to call… those who know they are sinners and need to repent.”

Additional Reading: Luke 5:27-32

Picking up from where we left off yesterday, let’s consider how we can follow Jesus without getting tripped up with pride and falling into sin.

I think a good starting point would be to look at what the 12 Step Programs teach. One of the first things these programs emphasize is that participants are always one step away from going back into their addiction. They never want to hear them say: ”I am no longer an addict”. Rather, they want them to recognize that each day they must admit their need for God to help them stay clean. I’ve heard testimonies of people who have been clean for many years who stand and say: “I am a drug addict”. Then they go on to say how many years they have remained drug free.

Let’s take a hint from these programs and remind ourselves that we all are one step away from turning our backs on the grace that has been shown us and sinning against God. That doesn’t mean that we are helpless against the devil, it means we are helpless against the devil if we don’t stay dependent upon God’s help!!

This leads me to ask, what does this looks like in daily life? If I truly feel needy of God’s help each day, it will drive me to start my days with a prayer seeking God’s help. A person who skips days and even weeks, seldom praying cannot expect to be free of constantly falling back into sinful habits. We all desperately need God’s strength working in us EVERY day. That being true, a humble person seeks God daily in prayer!

I want to take a sneak peek at Luke18. It fits our discussion here. In Luke 18:9, Jesus told a story to some “who had great confidence in their own righteousness and scorned everyone else”. First thought I had in reading this passage, I sure don’t want to be a part of the crowd that feels great confidence in their goodness. I know I can do a lot of good things, but I also know that I have done a lot of terrible things that needed God’s forgiveness. How about you, where do you fall in this scale of righteousness?

Jesus goes on with His story. Two men went to the temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: “I thank you, God, that I am not like other people-cheaters, sinners, adulterers. I’m certainly not like this tax collector”. He went on in his prayer, according to Jesus’s story, to tell God all the good stuff he had been doing. Now, Jesus switched over to the Tax Collector’s “O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.” The next words Jesus said I’m sure stunned this group of religious elites: “I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God.”

Don’t we all try to justify ourselves, at times? Don’t we remind God how much good we do or how bad others are compared to our shortcomings? Have you ever heard someone say, “well, at least I don’t act like ________”. Yes, if we haven’t actually said it, we have probably all thought it. God is not looking for people who try to justify themselves, He hears the prayers of those who know to the depth of their souls that they don’t deserve God’s forgiveness. The last words of that same story that Jesus told ended with: “For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted” (Luke 18:14b). Don’t let your past sins haunt you or shame you but do let them remind you that it is ONLY by God’s mercy that you are forgiven and walking with Him!

Father, please forgive me for ever thinking that I could earn your mercy and love. I praise you that you called me to yourself and redeemed me because of Your great Love. In Jesus’s Name, amen.

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