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Apr 15, 2018
Preacher: Greg Elmquist
Passage: Isaiah 65:5 & 1 Timothy 1:15

‘Holier than thou’ or ‘Chief of sinners’?

…for I am holier than thou…  or
 …sinners; of whom I am chief

(ISAIAH 65:5, 1 TIMOTHY 1:15)

The Lord judges the self-righteousness in Isaiah 65 for believing themselves to be “Holier than thou” (ISAIAH 65:5). In contrast, the Apostle Paul confesses himself to be the “chief of sinners” [1 TIMOTHY 1:15]. The truth is that all men believe themselves to be one or the other. Which one we believe ourselves to be…depends on the standard by which we judge.

Those who compare themselves to other men can always find someone they are ‘holier’ than. Those, who by God’s grace have seen Christ, are brought to cry, “woe is me” (ISAIAH 6:5). The Pharisee in Luke 18 was proud of how he measured up to “other men.” The Publican could only cry, “be merciful to me the sinner!” The Lord was very clear on which one went down to his house justified (LUKE 18:9-14).

Now, here is the hope of this truth. How God sees men is just the opposite of how they see themselves. God says to the “holier than thou” group: “you are a smoke in my nose.” And to sinners He says: “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for His seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God” (1 JOHN 3:9). All the righteous believe themselves to be unrighteous, and all the unrighteous believe themselves to be righteous.

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