The Pharisee and the Tax Collector

Study Guide

In Luke 18, Jesus tells the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector, pointing us to his mercy from which we draw our confidence and security. When we draw our confidence from our own ability and accomplishments, we become prideful; but when we draw our confidence from God’s mercy that covers our sin, we are freed from performing and are driven back to the gospel again and again.
  1. What are the things in your life that make you feel worthy? What is your version of a righteousness resume? What gospel truth covers this lie?

  2. The more we think we have to offer, the harder it will be to feel our need for God. How might you be experiencing this in your life now? If not, what are you doing to stay dependent on God to fill every need?

  3. If you find yourself to be prideful:

    1. Identify your righteousness resume (where do you always need affirmation?
    2. Counter your resume daily with the gospel (cover lies with Truth
    3. Live in the light (confess, expose, tell on yourself, and let it drive you back to the gospel)
  4. The gospel frees us to expose ourselves through confession (see the last key point). Who in your life are you regularly confessing to who points you back to the gospel? How has this brought you freedom?

Key Points
  • When we put our trust in ourselves, we make God transactional.

  • We all have some version of a righteousness resume that makes us feel worthy; it is a list we use to determine our worth outside of Jesus. We have to surrender that list to God daily and trust that we do not need a list.

  • Where there is pride, there is judgment of others (Luke 18:9).

  • If we continue to think we have anything to offer, our pride will prevent us from humbly coming to God for everything.

  • Life in God’s Kingdom is about the posture of our hearts, not our earthly accomplishments or admiration.

  • If you feel like a failure, find encouragement in the fact that God’s grace is not based on you, it’s based on him. Your eligibility in God’s Kingdom is based on the finished work of Christ not the finished work of you.

  • The same gospel that frees you to be exposed is the same gospel that draws you back in after telling on yourself. You can know you are living in the freedom of the gospel when you allow yourself to be exposed—when you have someone who fully knows you who you can regularly confess your sin to.


Other Scripture References

Scripture: Luke 18:9-14, Mark 2:17

Topics: God's Wrath, Good Works, Humility, Mercy, Pride, Salvation, Self Righteousness