1. WORSHIPPING IN THE TEMPLE
a. What was the purpose of Jesus in giving the parable of the two worshippers? Luke 18:9.
“We must have a knowledge of ourselves, a knowledge that will result in contrition, before we can find pardon and peace. . . . It is only he who knows himself to be a sinner that Christ can save. . . . We must know our real condition, or we shall not feel our need of Christ’s help. We must understand our danger, or we shall not flee to the refuge. We must feel the pain of our wounds, or we should not desire healing.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 158.
b. Describe the two men mentioned in the parable. Luke 18:10–13.
“The Pharisee and the publican represent two great classes into which those who come to worship God are divided. Their first two representatives are found in the first two children that were born into the world. Cain thought himself righteous, and he came to God with a thank offering only. He made no confession of sin, and acknowledged no need of mercy. But Abel came with the blood that pointed to the Lamb of God. He came as a sinner, confessing himself lost; his only hope was the unmerited love of God.”—Ibid., p. 152.
2. GOD’S VIEW OF THE SITUATION
a. What did Jesus conclude about the two men who worshipped in the temple? Luke 18:14 (first part).
“In order to be justified, the sinner must have that faith that appropriates the merits of Christ to his own soul. We read that the devils ‘believe, and tremble’ (James 2:19), but their belief does not bring them justification, neither will the belief of those who give a merely intellectual assent to the truths of the Bible bring them the benefits of salvation. This belief fails of reaching the vital point, for the truth does not engage the heart or transform the character.”—Selected Messages, bk. 3, pp. 191, 192.
b. What did the Pharisee fail to see about himself? Romans 3:10–12; How can we make the same mistake?
“The Pharisee goes up to the temple to worship, not because he feels that he is a sinner in need of pardon, but because he thinks himself righteous and hopes to win commendation. His worship he regards as an act of merit that will recommend him to God.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 150.
“Many are deceived concerning the condition of their hearts. They do not realize that the natural heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. They wrap themselves about with their own righteousness and are satisfied in reaching their own human standard of character; but how fatally they fail when they do not reach the divine standard, and of themselves they cannot meet the requirements of God.”—Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 320.
c. What general principle does Jesus teach us from this parable? Luke 18:14 (second part); 1 Peter 5:6; James 4:10.
“Humble yourselves, brethren. When you do this, it is possible for holy angels to communicate with you, and place you on vantage ground. Then your experience, instead of being faulty, will be filled with happiness.”—This Day With God, p. 35.
“God grants no pardon to him whose penitence produces no humility.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 7, p. 938.
3. HAVING THE PUBLICAN’S ATTITUDE
a. How does God view the attitude of the publican? Psalm 51:17; 102:17.
“Fasting or prayer that is actuated by a self-justifying spirit is an abomination in the sight of God. The solemn assembly for worship, the round of religious ceremonies, the external humiliation, the imposing sacrifice, proclaim that the doer of these things regards himself as righteous, and as entitled to heaven; but it is all a deception. Our own works can never purchase salvation. . . .
“Man must be emptied of self before he can be, in the fullest sense, a believer in Jesus. When self is renounced, then the Lord can make man a new creature.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 280.
b. What experience, like the publican, do we need in order to have pardon and peace? 1 John 1:9; Jeremiah 3:13.
“It is not only at the beginning of the Christian life that this renunciation of self is to be made. At every advance step heavenward it is to be renewed. All our good works are dependent on a power outside of ourselves. Therefore there needs to be a continual reaching out of the heart after God, a continual, earnest, heartbreaking confession of sin and humbling of the soul before Him. Only by constant renunciation of self and dependence on Christ can we walk safely.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 159, 160.
c. What was different about the prayer of the publican? Jeremiah 29:12, 13.
“There are two kinds of prayer—the prayer of form and the prayer of faith. The repetition of set, customary phrases when the heart feels no need of God is formal prayer. . . . We should be extremely careful in all our prayers to speak the wants of the heart and to say only what we mean. All the flowery words at our command are not equivalent to one holy desire. The most eloquent prayers are but vain repetitions if they do not express the true sentiments of the heart. But the prayer that comes from an earnest heart, when the simple wants of the soul are expressed just as we would ask an earthly friend for a favor, expecting that it would be granted—this is the prayer of faith.”—My Life Today, p. 19.
4. AVOIDING THE PITFALLS OF THE PHARISEE
a. What is the danger for those who do not acknowledge that they are sinners? Revelation 3:16, 17; Luke 5:31, 32.
“He who falls into some of the grosser sins may feel a sense of his shame and poverty and his need of the grace of Christ; but pride feels no need, and so it closes the heart against Christ and the infinite blessings He came to give.”—Steps to Christ, p. 30.
“I am commissioned now to say to our brethren, Humble yourselves and confess your sins, else God will humble you. The message to the Laodicean church comes home to those who do not apply it to themselves.”—Counsels to Writers and Editors, p. 99.
b. What often goes hand in hand with this type of spiritual pride? Psalm 12:3. What danger is involved here? Proverbs 26:28 (last part); 29:5.
“We need to shun everything that would encourage pride and self-sufficiency; therefore we should beware of giving or receiving flattery or praise. It is Satan’s work to flatter. He deals in flattery as well as in accusing and condemnation. Thus he seeks to work the ruin of the soul. Those who give praise to men are used by Satan as his agents. Let the workers for Christ direct every word of praise away from themselves. Let self be put out of sight. Christ alone is to be exalted.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 161, 162.
c. Although he was once a proud leader in Israel, how did Paul’s experience change? Philippians 3:6–9; Romans 7:9; Galatians 6:14.
“Judged by the letter of the law as men apply it to the outward life, [Paul] had abstained from sin; but when he looked into the depths of its holy precepts, and saw himself as God saw him, he bowed in humiliation and confessed his guilt.”—Steps to Christ, pp. 29, 30.
“The nearer we come to Jesus, the more clearly we behold the purity and greatness of His character, the less we shall feel like exalting self. The contrast between our characters and His will lead to humiliation of soul and deep heart searching. The more we love Jesus, the more entirely will self be humbled and forgotten.”—The Upward Look, p. 46.
5. PRACTICING HUMILITY IN OUR LIFE
a. How did Jesus show humility in His own life? Philippians 2:5–11.
“The Son of man humbled Himself to become the servant of God. He submitted to abasement and self-sacrifice, even to death, to give freedom and life, and a place in His kingdom to those who believe on Him. He gave His life as a ransom for many. This should be enough to make those who are continually seeking to be first and striving for the supremacy, ashamed of their course.”—This Day With God, p. 356.
b. What does Christ then require of us? Luke 9:23. What blessings are promised to the humble? Luke 18:14 (second part); 1 Peter 5:6; James 4:10.
“Those who believe in Christ and walk humbly with Him, . . . who watch to see what they can do to help and bless and strengthen the souls of others, cooperate with the angels who minister to those who shall be heirs of salvation. Jesus gives them grace, and wisdom, and righteousness, making them a blessing to all with whom they are brought in contact. The more humble they are in their own estimation, the more blessings they receive from God, because receiving does not exalt them. They make a right use of their blessings, for they receive to impart.
“The ministering angels receive instruction from the throne of God to cooperate with human instrumentalities. They receive the grace of Christ to give it to human beings.”—Ibid.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. Why can Christ only save those who know that they are sinners?
2. Why do you come to church?
3. How should we pray?
4. How can we overcome spiritual pride?
5. Why does God entrust His blessings to the humble?