Justifying Self

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In the last post we were introduced to a group of religious people called the Pharisees. While He was on earth the Pharisees were Jesus’ harshest critics and opponents. They were a religious group who, “derided him.” That means they sneered at Him and turned their noses up at Christ (see Luke 16:14).

Now the source of their derision was what was in their heart and what they heard.

What they heard that day was Jesus teach a lesson involving an, “unjust steward” followed by these words, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” (Luke 16:1-13). In other words, you cannot serve God and money.

That’s what irritated the Pharisees. You see they, “were covetous” and Jesus’ teaching stepped on their toes. Thus, “they derided him.”

Jesus Christ however, was not intimidated by His covetous critics. He addressed them and it’s His words to them I want to listen to.

To begin with, He told them they were people who, “justify yourselves before men” (Luke 16:15). In other words, they declared themselves to be righteous before others. And to those around them, the Pharisees even appeared to be righteous (see Matt. 23:28).

Now let’s be honest, are we any different than the Pharisees? Aren’t we all experts at justifying our actions and attitudes and don’t we always put our best foot forward in front of others?

Think about the various ways we go about justifying ourselves.

It begins by comparison. We weigh our actions against the actions of others around us. It sounds something like this, “Ok, I did do _____ but so-and-so did ______.” Why do we all make statements like that? It’s because we’re attempting to justify our wrong deed by convincing ourselves and others that it could be worse. And that may be true. However, I think it’s time we all stop comparing ourselves with those around us and begin comparing ourselves to God Who is gloriously holy and ask ourselves how we measure up against that comparison (Exodus 15:11).

We not only are experts at comparing ourselves with others, we also are very good at blaming others for our sins. This includes blaming our surroundings, circumstances, and upbringing. This is not some new clever trick either. It’s the oldest trick in history. Adam and Eve attempted to shift the blame for their sins (Genesis 3). However, God held each one of them responsible for their own actions and holds each one us responsible for our actions as well.

The third method of self-justification is what I call weighing. What we do is we place both our good and bad deeds on a scale, and most of us feel pretty good that the good outweighs the bad. Hmmm…maybe another topic for another day.

At this point all I can say is Jesus Christ was right. We are such experts at justifying ourselves. And this is a serious matter because God’s Word plainly states, “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10). The wonderful news is that through Christ every single one of us can be justified. That truth is wonderfully declared in the rest of Romans chapter three.

If you have any questions regarding these spiritual matters, please do not hesitate to contact us. We would be glad to help you discover the answers to your questions.

Are You Suspicious and Critical of Jesus Christ?

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A couple of weeks ago God’s Word taught us that we are like wandering sheep. We have wandered away from God to walk roads of our own choosing (Isaiah 53:6). Though we may feel free in our rebellion against God, we are actually lost and in danger - eternal danger. Jesus Christ however, came to this earth to execute a search and rescue mission (see Matthew 20:28; Luke 19:10; 1 Timothy 1:15).

He is the good shepherd we all need (John 10:11).

But I’m sure there are some reading this who are probably thinking, Jesus the good shepherd…are you kidding?! You see times haven’t changed. Many today are like a group of people in Jesus’ day called the Pharisees. They are suspicious and critical of Christ.

Did you know the Pharisees even referred to Jesus as, “that deceiver” (see Matthew 27:62-63)? Throughout His lifetime they questioned His integrity, constantly sought for a reason to accuse Him of wrongdoing, and even attempted to trap Him in His words (Luke 5:21; 6:6-7; 11:53-54).

On one occasion the Pharisees even, “derided” Jesus - meaning they sneered at Him and turned their noses up at Him. That incident is recorded in Luke 16:14 when we’re told, “And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him.”

Now, did you notice what sparked their derision of Christ? The simple answer is, what they heard and what was in their heart. think of it this way; Jesus, “stepped on their toes” and the Pharisees did not like that. I propose that’s still the reason many despise and reject Christ. In fact, Jesus Himself said that was reason for the world’s hatred of Him.

I’m gong to close this post with Jesus’ words, but before I do, may I urge you to do two things? First, would you give serious consideration to the words you’re about read? Secondly, please check back soon because we will discover what it was the Pharisees heard Jesus say that sparked their derision of Christ.

And now as promised here are the words of Christ: “The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil.”

Like Sheep

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How would you describe mankind? Ok, I admit it; that’s a heavy question. Or is it?

The Bible describes us as being like sheep…straying sheep to be precise. In the 53rd chapter of Isaiah we’re told, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way…” (Isaiah 53:6). So, God describes us as wanderers wandering about seeking satisfaction and direction.

The verse informs us we’re all travelling our own roads and doing things our own way. In other words, we’re doing what we want, where we want, whenever we want, with whomever we want, and however we want. God’s ways are not considered as we traverse our path.

We may feel free living independently of God, but the truth is sheep without a shepherd are very helpless and defenceless animals. Their entire well-being is dependent upon the diligent and loving care of a shepherd.

The same is true of every single one of us. And here is where we should take a moment to consider Christ.

Let’s begin with His compassion. One day, when He was on earth He saw something that moved Him to compassion. What did He see? Jesus saw multitudes of people without strength, without direction, and without a shepherd. The scene is described in the following way: “But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.” (Matthew 9:36).

He still sees the same scene today. And it still moves Him to compassion.

But you see Jesus wasn’t and isn’t someone who just saw and felt sorry for people. He did something about what He saw. In fact, He told us rescuing lost sheep (lost people) is the whole reason He came to this earth. “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” He said (Luke 19:10).

Can I personalize this for minute? Jesus sees you wandering about aimlessly and desperately seeking, “a shepherd” to guide you and it breaks His heart. He wants you to know that the whole reason He died on the cross was to save you. Remember, sheep are helpless and defenceless without a shepherd and we are helpless and defenceless without Jesus Christ, “the good shepherd” (John 10:11).

Jesus Said There's More to Life

How do you feel about life right now? Are you 100% content or do you often feel as though something is missing? How would you complete the following statement: If only I _____ then my life would be more satisfactory?

Doesn’t it seem as though we spend an excessive amount of time seeking more out of life? Our life seems to be a non-stop quest for more happiness, more fulfilment, and even more things. At times our pursuit is successful. Or is it? Isn’t it true that even when successful in our quest, our enjoyment is a momentary enjoyment?

Well, have you ever considered what Jesus said about this non-stop quest? He said, “The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment” (Luke 12:23). In other words, there is more to life than food, fashion, fortune, fame, and fun.

We are people who have dire spiritual needs; spiritual needs only Jesus Christ can provide. Again, listen to what He Himself said:

“I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35)

Did you notice Christ promised that those who go to Him will never hunger or thirst? Then there are His words found in Matthew 11:28, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

Jesus promised to satisfy our spiritual hunger and thirst. Do you believe He is able to satisfy your spiritual longings? If He can’t, who else can? Friend, if you’re tired of the endless pursuit for satisfaction, then why not accept the Lord Jesus’ invitation to find rest in Him?