No Way but the Low Way

No Way but the Low Way

Passage: Luke 18:9-14
Service Type:

9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 

Again, we have the intended recipients right at the front.

“…trusted in themselves that they were righteous.”

What is contempt? 

the feeling that a person is beneath consideration, worthless, or deserving scorn


When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: 

“Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?

Mark 2:16

That’s the spirit of the people he was addressing here. (contempt)

10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 

Modern day equivalents:

  • Priest and loan shark (a man who robs the poor)

two men went up into the temple

humility / pride

good / evil

false motives / true

“Moreover, I saw under the sun that in the place of justice, even there was wickedness, and in the place of righteousness, 

even there was wickedness.”

Ecclesiastes 3:16

1. Pride lurks in the shadow of humility 

The “temple” in this parable is an allegory representing the heart of a person. 

The allegory of the heart.

“Just when We are most anxious to have our heart the temple of God, we shall find the two men coming up to pray. And the publican (tax collector) will find that his danger is not from the Pharisee beside him, who despises him, but the Pharisee within who commends and exalts. In God's temple, when we think we are in the holiest of all, in the presence of His holiness, let us beware of pride.”

~ Murray, Andrew: Humility


“Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them.”

Job 1:6

This is a warning to everyone who struggles with pride. Do I?

If you think you are not conceited, it means you are very conceited indeed.

~ C. S. Lewis

Application: Admit that I am proud.

Listen to the prayer of the Pharisee in the parable:

11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’

The Pharisee compared himself to the publican.

He thought his works would justify him.

David’s prayer of repentance after his sins of coveting, murder, and adultery.

For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;

    you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;

    a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

Psalm 51:16-17

What does David say was his justification? a broken and contrite heart

The standard is not others, but God’s law.

2. Comparison never leads to justification. 

…or peace or self-confidence.

You might hear yourself say, 

“At least I’m not as bad as that guy.”

“Well, everyone is doing it.”

“Comparison is the thief of joy.”

~ Theodore Roosevelt

Is it any wonder many of us struggle to see personal breakthrough?

And even so Christians may see clearly the blessed promises of perfect peace and rest, of overflowing love and joy, of abiding communion and fruitfulness, and yet feel that there was something between hindering the true possession. And what might that be? Nothing but pride.

~ Murray, Andrew. Humility

It’s nobody’s fault but my own. 

It’s humbling…

Comparison with others is pride.

“Pride renders faith impossible.” ~ A. Murray

“How can you believe since you accept glory from one another but do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?”

John 5:44

Application: Recognize and renounce contempt for others.

3. Humility unlocks blessing from God.

There is a connection between the fear of man and a lack of faith.

13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 

The progression from pride to humility in the life of a Christian.

Isaiah 6:5-8

my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.

1. Revelation of God’s righteousness

Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined!

2. of my sin, repentance, and forgiveness. 

your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”

4. Justification comes only to the humble. 

14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Luke 18:9-14

My job = humble myself 

God’s job = exalt me

If I do God’s job, he will do mine.

“…we might as well attempt to see without eyes, or live without breath, 

as believe or draw nigh to God or dwell in His love, 

without an all-pervading humility and lowliness of heart.”

~ Murray, Andrew. Humility


And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

3. a love for the lost.

5. Only the humble are truly “sent” by God.

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