I feel like there are two categories of Christians in this world…
1) The Recovering Tax Collectors
2) The Recovering Pharisees
The Recovering tax collector’s are the people who were wild, crazy, jacked up, and did “big” sins… etc. They were really far from God according to their actions. Then when Christ brought them to life… they changed… dramatically. Everything changed. Their hearts and actions.
It is obvious to everyone that their life has been changed. The outside and inside is radically different. They have been freed from sin in dramatic style.
On the flip side… the recovering Pharisee’s were likely more on the mild side of sins… they were still really far from God… but not so much according to their outward actions. Then when Christ brought them to life… they changed… dramatically. Their hearts changed… and their actions changed… but not by that much… because they were already “good” on the outside to begin with.
It is not so obvious to everyone that their life has been changed. True their attitude is changed. True many things are changed. True their heart is now set on Christ. True they are no longer dead… but alive. However they have not been freed from the “big-time” sins.
This seems to create a dilemma.
The recovering tax collector can generally always have a surer foundation of faith because of the dramatic change… while the recovering Pharisee does not have the obvious foundation… it is more on the hidden side (bitterness, pride, slander… etc. They don’t always show up as “big” to most people… and can be hidden to a much greater degree.).
Because the recovering Pharisee’s have been “good” to begin with, the past dramatic change is not so obvious. The heart change may have been big… but the actions were not so dramatically changed, so it is hard to pinpoint a moment of conversion.
I feel this syndrome probably plagues many recovering Pharisee’s… including me.
The heart change is huge… but the actions are not so big. Therefore we begin to feel or think like we weren’t really changed to begin with… we weren’t really saved.
BUT there is an inherent problem with this view of salvation. You see… by looking at our own works and our own decision… we are not looking to the true place of justification. The true place of being made right in the sight of God.
I believe Pastor Dave Dorr describes this quite well here…
“Not so subtly, we have preached commitment as salvation. And, then, even worse, growing in our walk with Jesus is reaching ever-higher planes of commitment. Commitment is a result of salvation. Devotion to Christ flows from belief, not from volition. It is an act of heart, not will. Is it no wonder then, so many question their salvation? They question because they think their justification with God is based on commitment, and when their commitment wanes, they sense they might not really be a Christian. They are counting on their commitment to save them, not Jesus. Do not put your hope in the fact that you have accepted Christ. Hope in the fact that Christ has accepted you.”
So… in essence… there may be two types of people… but there is only one type of saving grace…
Too often we think that we saved ourselves… even if we know that we didn’t.
Think for a second with me… How is it that someone blind, deaf, and dead can make any type of decision to accept Christ? (Check Ephesians 2:1-10)
How is it that someone can try to put their foundation of faith in “their so called decision” when no man even seeks God? (Check Romans 3:11)
You see… It doesn’t depend on man. It depends on God. (Check Romans 9:16)
Do not put your faith in your own works. Your own decision. Your own commitment. Put your faith in Christ and His Gospel of grace and His decision to save you.
By placing your faith in His actions… in His grace… in His commitment… in His Cross… I believe that many of us would stop being so worried and insecure about our own salvation.
What do you think?
*Do know I believe each person (tax collector vs. Pharisee) was and is just as depraved as the other… neither looks better in Christ’s eyes.*