Lucifer was once an honored angel, a cherub. He was perfect in beauty, full of wisdom, and was admitted to the holy mountain of God, where he walked in the midst of the stones of fire. He was in Eden, the garden of God, of which the one on earth was evidently a copy. His ways were perfect, and God gave him the work of "covering," and also anointed him.
But Lucifer was not satisfied. He was envious of God, he became lifted up because of his beauty; he corrupted his wisdom because of his brightness, and decided upon a course which he hoped would make him equal to God. He went so far that he said, "I am a God, I sit in the seat of God."
The parable of the Pharisee and the publican is well known. "He spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple co 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 nor 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 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.
The parable was spoken for such as thought that "they were righteous, and despised others." It is impossible for a person to exalt himself without comparing himself to others and concluding that he is better than they. This is what the Pharisees did. They considered themselves righteous and despised others.
In the parable the Pharisee informed God about himself, and told Him how good he was; He did not ask God for anything, and he did not receive anything. He was content with conveying certain information to God which he felt He should have. Having done this, he departed, his work being done. God now knew who he was and what he had done, knew him to be a worthy man, and though he did not need anything at this time, it was well for God to have him in mind.
How different was the humble publican! He did not so much as lift up his eyes to heaven. He simply uttered the words, "God be merciful to me a sinner." "I tell you," Christ said, "this man went down to his house justified rather than the other."
Some theologians lay much stress on the theory of justification. In their anxiety to comprehend the subject adequately, they pursue a panting Greek verb from Dan to Beersheba. Conjugations and tenses, dictionaries and lexicons, ancient and modern usages, commentaries and sources from alpha to omega, are marshaled to prove a moot point; and even then the wise men do not always agree.
What could be simpler than Christ's teaching on justification The publican doubtless knew little of theology, but he prayed humbly that God would be merciful to him; and he went down to his house justified. Justification is just that simple. Jesus taught no difficult or involved theology.
By way of contrast, note what Christ said of the scribes, "He said unto them in his doctrine, Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts: which devour widows' houses, and for a pretense make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation." Mark 12:38-40.
"These shall receive greater damnation." Christ had little patience with those who loved to have the pre-eminence. They might stand high in the nation and in the church. But Jesus did not so place them.
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