"this man went to his house justified...He who humbles himself will be exalted." Luke 18:10-14
Principle: Justification is the singular act of Sovereign God. He declares a person to be right in His eyes, by an act of His will, but He responds to a humble heart not eloquent speech.
Being justified means to be declared right by God. Prayer is not the means by which prideful and inflated posers convince God of their eloquence, in order to receive the judgment they think they are due. It is the tool God offers to sinful and separated people to humble themselves before Him. to receive the forgiveness they know they do not deserve.
When Jesus related the difference between the prayer of the sinful profiteer and the self-righteous Pharisee, He was focusing on the condition of their hearts, not the eloquence of their words. Seven words were all it took for one man to be forgiven, "God, be merciful to me, the sinner!" (Luke 18:13)
Jesus said, "I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, but he who humbles himself shall be exalted." (Luke 18:14)
For a prayer warrior to move from basic training to proficiency in the use of prayer as the world class weapon in the battle against evil, pride must be put down, and prayer must be picked up. There is no hope for justification, or intercession where pride is preeminent. Prayerless people are prideful people who refuse to humble themselves before a Holy God. For people to be justified, there must be point at which they are willing to admit to God and to themselves, their case is hopeless. They stand before Holy God, and plead their case best, when they throw themselves on the mercy of God.
The bridge burned between a sinner and God is utterly unable to rebuilt, without God sending His Son to restore what was destroyed. In an instant, God can point a humble person to Jesus as The Bridge. Jesus restores the route by which the repentant sinner can return home to his forgiving Father. Sin has cost the sinner something that can only be restored by the price that Jesus paid, by dying the cross for his sin. Prayer is the key, and Jesus is The Door. Prayer unlocks The Door, by which a humble heart can enter and be transformed into a holy heart, set apart for the purpose of God. "I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he shall be saved." (John 10:9) Jesus is The Bridge, and offers the only way to God. "I am the way, the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father, but by Me." (John 14:6)
The confession of the repentant man caught the eye of Jesus, because it touched the heart of God. When confessed sin has been forgiven, it need not be repeated in prayer, as if it was never heard. Admitting to God what He already knows and receiving from Him what only He can give is a very liberating experience. It is meant to be carried out as naturally as the process of breathing.
Breathe out = confess you sins. Breathe in = receive forgiveness. If people get hyperventilated about their sin, it is because they forget to breath in and receive the forgiveness that is available to them. They are justified, and now their fellowship with God is restored. The joy of being justified is in discovering a forgiveness that leaves a sense of well-being... "Just if I'd never sinned."
When justified people forget the joy of their forgiveness, they keep coming to God and repeating a confession that has been removed from His sight. What God forgives, He forgets. He no longer holds it against the sinner, like an overdue debt or account that must be collected. When a forgiven sinner brings up the matter again and again, God might very well say, "What are you talking about?"
The Practice of Prayer: Confess any known sin to God today. If you can't think of anything, give God a chance to remind you. You might be surprised. This may take a while, but it will start a new discipline to keep your sins confessed up to date. This declaration makes you right in God's eyes, and all your sin has been removed from His Presence, by the blood of Jesus. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (I John 1:9)
Thought for the Day: Being declared right by God is not initiated by eloquent prayer. It is celebrated by the repentant person who prays to be made right by God.
"For a successful season of prayer, the best beginning is confession." Charles Haddon Spurgeon