Are There any Sinners in Your Church? Part 1 of 2 (series: General Sermons)

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

Are There any Sinners in Your Church?
Luke 18:9-18:14

9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others:
10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.
11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank thee that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.
12 I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I get.’
13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’
14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

The story of the Pharisee and the publican is the story of two great sinners. One knew he was a sinner and acknowledges it before God. The other knew not that he was a sinner and boasted of his righteousness. Over yonder, these two men are going to the temple. One goes down to the front pew, (he must not have been a Baptist) and proudly takes his place there. He prays loudly, "Thank God I am not as other men are..."The other man felt so sinful and needy that he didn’t even go into the temple. Rather he stood afar off and beat upon his breast and cried out to God saying, "Lord, be merciful unto me a sinner."

I. Here we see two different attitudes.
A. One man is boasting of himself and the other is pouring out his heart to God.
B. One man saw his great need, the other his great self.

Church isn’t just a glorified social club. It should be a hospital for sinners. Folks, church should be where the saved come to worship in the beauty of His holiness, and the lost come to get saved and to be wrapped up in Christ’s righteousness. There are saved and unsaved in every church, and that’s the way it should be, Amen?

Jesus said in Luke 19:10, "I have come to seek and to save that which was lost." We have these two types of people today - the saints and the aints. One says, "I am a good man. Look at all the fine things I am doing. But look yonder at that person, at that drug addict, at that alcoholic, at that homosexual, at that prostitute. What a crying shame. I am so glad that I am better than they are." In God’s eyes, there are no distinctions. Jesus shed the same blood, on the same cross, for my sins as well as for theirs. That makes them as special as I am or you are in God’s eyes.

There is only one God and one mediator between man and God, the man Jesus Christ. He didn’t die for a denomination but for every individual in the world. God hates sin but loves the sinner. Now that’s Good news. Do you know what the only thing is that makes you any different from that drug addict, or prostitute, or homosexual, or alcoholic? It is that you have forgiveness. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 says, "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor male prostitutes, nor homosexual offenders, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor the drunkards, nor slanderers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you are washed, you are sanctified, you are justified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of God." Can you say Amen?

How can you see or enter into the kingdom of God? Well, you’re going to be disappointed if you try to find the answer in religion. Religion doesn’t save you. The Baptist church won’t save you. This preacher won’t save you. It’s only when you put your faith and trust in Jesus that you are saved, born again. John 3:3 says, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again."

Being good won’t save you. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, "For by grace are you saved through faith, and this not of yourself it is the gift of God; not of works lest any man should boast." You can’t do anything. It’s faith plus nothing. It is a gift from God. God doesn’t need your help. He’s already got the perfect plan.

Romans 6:23 says, "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is everlasting life through Jesus Christ our Lord."

Jesus said in John 4:6, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life: no one comes to the Father but by me."

Acts 4:12 says, "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."

Romans 10:13 says, "For whosoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."
Now that’s what I call Good News folks!

Romans 1:16 says, "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation." Makes me want to shout!

Look at the other man. He says, "Lord, I am a sinner. I need your help. I am guilty and I need forgiveness and mercy." He says nothing about anybody else - He just pours out his heart to God and tells Him about his great need.

The time came when the sermon was over and church was out and these two men went down to their homes. One walked proud and wrapped up in his own importance and self-righteousness. The other went home thanking God, rejoicing that God had forgiven his sins and he was at peace with himself and with God. One man went away justified, but the other left the same way he had come in, with sin in his heart and with no regard for the things of God.

II. The Pharisee’s Prayer - vs 11

I want to take a few minutes and look at the Pharisee’s prayer.

He prayed with himself and not to God. He was simply boasting to others and letting them know about the good things that he was doing. Jesus said, "The Pharisees love to stand praying in the marketplace that men may hear them." They have their reward. It is not the purpose of prayer to show off but to pour out your heart to God. Jesus told us to go into our closet and "Your Father which hears you in secret will reward you openly."

He boasted of his morality. He trusted in himself that he was righteous. The Bible declares in Romans, "There is none righteous, no not one." Romans 3:23 says, "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." He said, "Thank God I am not an extortioner." You know, there are people in churches all across America like that. They say, "I am not a thief." But when it comes to giving God what is rightfully His, to begin with, the first fruits, their tithe, they rob God. Malachi 3:8 says, "Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But you say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings." Not giving your tithe to God is a sin and we need to become aware of it and repent of it.

He boasted of his business honesty and integrity. He said, "I don’t cheat anyone, I pay my bills, I am honest Abe in all my dealings. He said, "I am not unjust." I’m a goody two shoes, a do-gooder. I don’t hurt anybody. I treat everybody fair at work. And I do this and I do that." Many think that they are righteous. But listen to what Matthew 7:21-23 says. "Not everyone who says Lord, Lord will enter into the kingdom of Heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in Heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ’Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will plainly tell them, "I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers."

But you say, "I don’t think a kind, loving God would send a good person like myself, who hasn’t done anything, well, too bad, to Hell. It’s just not in His nature." Well, everything that could be done to keep you from going to Hell has already been done by Jesus on the cross of Calvary.

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