10″Two men went up into the temple to pray; one was a Pharisee, and the other was a tax collector.
11The Pharisee stood and prayed to himself like this: ‘God, I thank you, that I am not like the rest of men, extortioners, unrighteous, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.
12I fast twice a week. I give tithes of all that I get.’
13But the tax collector, standing far away, wouldn’t even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’
14I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Why is the oh-so-nice Pharisees not justified, but the scum-of-the-earth tax collector is?
First of all, we need to define the terms good and bad here. What/who defines a man as good? Number of times you help the old ladies to get across the street? Number of 10 commandments that you have kept? As long as you are above average, then you are considered good? Let’s see what the Bible says:
10 As it is written, “There is no one righteous. No, not one.
11 There is no one who understands. There is no one who seeks after God.
12 They have all turned aside. They have together become unprofitable. There is no one who does good, No, not, so much as one.”
It does not actually tell us the filtering algorithms that God uses to separate the good guys from the baddies. It only tells us the number of good guys out there – no one, not even one! We all have turned away from God, rejected him as our creator and ruler, and crowned ourselves to be our little kings. We are all baddies in God’s sight, and that means everyone of us – you and me, Aussies and Chinese, Christians and non-Christians – we are all criminals before God. What does that imply? None of us can pass his judgement, and hell will be the next stop for all of us.
Trying to do good to win God’s favour is like trying to study for the exam that you’ll never pass. The only hope we have is God might have mercy on some of us. In fact, he did show his love and mercy in his son Jesus, and at the cross, his justice and his love are both satisfied. We can be saved, if we do confess that we are baddies, and place our trust on Jesus that his death is enough to pay for my guilt. Thus, baddies can go to heaven.
What about the good guys then? There are no real righteous man from God’s point of view, except the man Jesus along. All the other so-called good guys trust no one but themselves. They need no God because they think they can run their lives themselves, and they might even out-smart God in His judgement scheme. When the judgement comes, those good guys appear not so good in God’s standard. And by relying solely on themselves, where will they end up with?