If you have ever visited a church or, if you have ever hung around church people, then I know that you have had or heard a discussion on the subject of FAITH. If you were to ask ten different people what “faith” means, you are likely to get fifteen different answers. The best thing to do in order to discover what God has in mind when He uses the idea of “faith” is to go to the Scriptures. I want to examine a passage of Scripture that reveals what “faith” looks like in every day life and how the lack of faith in God is manifested. Would you like to discover what faith really is and how it is manifested practically? The passage that we are going to examine is Luke 18:9-23. This passage is broken up into three separate teachings linked together by the manifestation of faith.
I. Faith and Righteousness
The first section of this passage that we are going to consider is verses 9-14.
9 And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt:
10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.
11 “The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.
12 ‘I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’
13 “But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’
14 “I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18)
There are two categories of people in this text. There are those who place their faith in themselves and not in God. Also, there are those who place their faith in God instead of in themselves.
Those who have faith in themselves
- They trust in themselves as they stand before God.
- They create their own standard of what is right and what is wrong.
- They can always find someone who is more of a sinner than they are.
- They look down on others.
- They do not humble themselves before God.
- They exalt themselves in the presence of God.
- They are always ready to share their list of good deeds with anyone who will listen.
- They do not ask God for anything because they do not think that they need God.
Those who have faith in God through Jesus Christ
- They trust in God for their righteousness.
- They receive righteousness from God.
- They know who they really are.
- They come before God as a beggar with nothing to offer and only to receive.
- They humble themselves before God and before others.
- They beg God for mercy.
- There is a point in time when their lives are transformed by faith in God through Jesus Christ.
Of these two people, with whom do you more closely resemble? Have you ever begged God for mercy? Have you ever allowed God to give His righteousness to you? Can you point to a moment in your life when your life was changed completely by having faith in God through Jesus Christ? How do you view the people around you? Do you see them as sinners who can be justified or, sinners who are beneath you?
II. Faith and being teachable
The next manifestation of faith is seen in the second section of this passage.
15 And they were bringing even their babies to Him so that He would touch them, but when the disciples saw it, they began rebuking them.
16 But Jesus called for them, saying, “Permit the children to come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.
17 “Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.” (Luke 18)
This one is very simple. Those who have faith in God through Jesus Christ receive the kingdom of God like a child. What does this mean and how is it lived out practically? The word that is translated “receive” in English comes from a Greek verb that means “to take/receive instruction/teaching”. A person who have childlike faith is a person who receives instruction from the Lord (or from someone sent by the Lord). A person who does not have childlike faith does not have a teachable spirit. He does not receive instruction or correction from God (or from people sent by God). With whom do you more closely resemble, the person with a teachable spirit or, with the person who cannot receive instruction?
III. Faith and Idols
The third and final section of the passage is 18-23.
18 A ruler questioned Him, saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
19 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.
20 “You know the commandments, ‘DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, DO NOT MURDER, DO NOT STEAL, DO NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS, HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER.’ ”
21 And he said, “All these things I have kept from my youth.”
22 When Jesus heard this, He said to him, “One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
23 But when he had heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. (Luke 18)
The person who has faith in God through the Lord Jesus Christ is a person who acknowledges his idols when they are revealed. Not only does he acknowledge his idols but he also turns from his idols and embraces the Lord Jesus Christ. He is ready to give up everything to be able to follow Jesus Christ moment by moment, day by day. The person who does not have faith in God through Jesus Christ is the person who refuses to acknowledge his idols and is not willing to give up his idols. He is not able to follow Jesus Christ moment by moment, day by day because of his idols. This person actually walks away from Jesus Christ and His calling. With whom do you more closely resemble, the person who confesses and repents of his idols to follow Christ or, the person who refuses to acknowledge his idols and walks away from Jesus Christ?
Just to recap and put faith in a quick list of how it is manifested:
- A person of faith trusts in Christ and not in himself.
- A person of faith begs God for His righteousness.
- A person of faith humbles himself before God and before others.
- A person of faith is able to receive instruction (correction) from God (and those sent by God).
- A person of faith confesses his idols and turns away from them.
- A person of faith becomes a follower of Jesus Christ.
May the Lord help us be people of genuine faith, moment by moment, day by day.