1. We must be justified in order to be accepted by God as His heir

In the previous post, we learnt that “Heirs of God Will Inherit Eternal Life.”   This is a very important teaching in scripture.  As we studied the truth, we discovered Apostle Paul’s writing to Titus which instructed us that we must be justified in order to be accepted by God as His heir.

That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life – Titus 3:7.

 

2. What does it mean to be justified? – Case study  – the Pharisee and the Publican

First of all, we have to interpret the meaning of the word justified in the context of the language in which it was written.   Dikaioō (G1344) is the word used in the Greek for the English word justified.

One of the first illustrations of the true meaning of  justification was given by Jesus as He spoke a parable unto some people who “trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others.”   These people  lived under Moses’ law, when a human could be  apparently made righteous by works, or so they thought.

In order to teach the doctrine, Lord Jesus gave us a contrast between a Pharisee and a Publican.  First though, let us explore the Publican. According to Strong’s in blueletter bible.com, the Publicans were

“tax collectors… detested not only by the Jews, but by other nations also, both on account of their employment and of the harshness, greed, and deception, with which they did their job.”

Here are scriptural references to the Publicans. As you can see, they were classed with the lowlife of  Jewish society (Table 1).

                      TABLE 1      REFERENCES TO PUBLICANS IN SCRIPTURE

 

PUBLICAN – UNSAVORY CHARACTER, TAX COLLECTOR

 ZACCHAEUS, THE CHIEF PUBLICAN

LUKE 19

Publicans and sinners – Matt 9: 10, 11; Matt 11: 19; Mark 2: 15 & 16; Lk 5: 30; Lk 7: 34; Lk 15:1  Zacchaeus was rich.
Gluttonous and alcoholics – Mt 11: 19 The people accused Jesus of choosing to be the guest of a man that was a sinner – Luke 19: 7
Heathen man and a publican – Matt 18: 17 Zacchaeus confessed that he had falsely accused people and taken their goods – Luke 19: 8
Publicans and harlots – Matt 21: 31, 32 Jesus said that Zacchaeus had been lost – Lk 19: 10
Publican named Levi – tax collector – notorious thieves and extortioners – Luke 5: 27
Classed by the Pharisees with extortioners, the unjust and adulterers – Lk 18: 11
Ashamed of himself – Lk 18: 13
Matthew the publican – Matt 10: 3
A publican, named Levi, sitting at the receipt of custom/tax collection – Lk 5: 27

 

3. How did Jesus illustrate justification in the parable?

Jesus taught the meaning of justification by using contrasts. In the parable, the Pharisee spoke of himself as a righteous man because he fasted twice a week and gave tithes. Moreover, he claimed that he was not an extortioner, unjust,  an adulterer  or even like the publican. The Pharisee never acknowledged once that he had ever sinned. He was perfect!

Contrast the Pharisee’s beliefs about himself with Lord Jesus’ condemnation. Our Lord revealed that the Pharisees were hypocrites (Mt 23: 14), full of extortion and excess inside (Mt 23: 25), blind (Mt 23: 26), like white sepulchers which look good outside but which were full of dead men’s bones (Mt 23: 27), full of ravening and wickedness (Lk 11: 29), covetous (Lk 16: 14),

However, the publican prayed and confessed that he was a sinner.  He stood afar off, would not lift up his eyes to heaven, smote his chest and pleaded with God to “be merciful  to me a sinner.’

Jesus concluded the parable by saying that the publican “went down to his house justified (Dikaioō/G1344) rather than the other,” because he humbled himself.

And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:

Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.

The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men [are], extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.

I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.

And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as [his] eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.

I tell you, this man went down to his house justified (Dikaioō/G1344) rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted – Luke 18: 9 – 14.

 

4. To be justified is to be forgiven of sins

From the  parable we learn that an individual is justified when he/she is forgiven of sins and that  forgiveness comes as a result of confession of those sins.

Humans cannot justify themselves in the eyes of God, as the Pharisee did in the parable. God knows the heart and rejects the proud, but gives grace to the humble.

Jesus’ words to some Pharisees illustrates this element of the Doctrine of Justification:

 

Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God – Luke 16: 15.

I am now aware that I have stepped into some deep waters here. As I read the scriptures related to the word “justified” (Dikaioō/G1344), we need to explore the doctrine of righteousness among others.

Hope this study was a blessing. Peace!

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