Luke 16:15 (HCSB)
“And He told them: “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the sight of others, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly admired by people is revolting in God’s sight.”
Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for how they lived their lives, lives focused on self-justification and excusing oneself of any wrong doing, as to appear virtuous and morally upright amongst their compatriots and peers.
Now, let’s be honest. We all have such tendencies. We all have a certain level of concern regarding how we might appear to people. But, don’t misunderstand, this is not always a bad thing. It can be a good thing to have such concerns…
1 Thessalonians 5:22 (KJV)
“Abstain from all appearance of evil.”
Colossians 4:5 (HCSB)
“Act wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the time.”
However, when our concerns for how we appear is fueled by selfish desires (like the Pharisees which Jesus rebuked), we then must remind ourselves that God knows your hearts, and that what is highly admired by people is revolting in God’s sight.
J. Warner Wallace, the guest host of the Stand To Reason podcast from June 8, 2016 offered a great illustration about self-justification…
“It’s so much easier to throw that dart at the wall and then just paint the bullseye around wherever the dart lands, than it is to have a bullseye on the wall to start with and try to hit it.”
He then elaborated further…
“We all have these sets of behaviors we want to engage in, and then we want to be able to justify our behaviors to others. And so, we know we really can’t justify those behaviors from a Christian perspective. So therefore, we would never consider Christianity as a worldview worth examining. But, not because there’s not any evidence for that worldview, and not because that worldview makes no sense logically, or not because it doesn’t explain the world the way it really is, but instead because we don’t think we can reconcile our behaviors, our desires, our wants, with that worldview. So, therefore we’re just not going to go there… The question isn’t, ‘Well, is there enough evidence for this, to believe this is true?’ The question is really born out of a desire for it not to be true, because it allows me to live a certain way… unchallenged.”
If you remember, even Paul had once lived according to his own “self-painted bullseye” (his ancestral traditions) which allowed him to live life unchallenged…
Galatians 1:13-14 (HCSB)
“For you have heard of my former manner of life in Judaism, how I used to persecute the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it; and I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my countrymen, being more extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions.”
Notice, though, how Paul describes that manner of life as former. It is no longer his current way of living his life. We (Christians) are now, as Paul puts it in his second letter to the Corinthian Church, a “new creation” where “old things have passed away” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Therefore, we must live by the Spirit, and not according to the flesh, our “self-painted bullseye.” Here’s what Paul wrote to the Romans…
Romans 8:12-14 (HCSB)
“So then, brothers, we are not obligated to the flesh to live according to the flesh, for if you live according to the flesh, you are going to die. But if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. All those led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons.”
So, why are we now considered God’s sons?
Because… Jesus Christ has hit His Bullseye for us.
Godspeed, to the brethren!
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