Luke 18:11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ 13 And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

One man is attempting to justify himself before God based on self-righteousness. He boasts about all the good works he’s done and how he’s better than others. What he failed to realize was all of his righteous works are filthy works in the sight of God (Isaiah 64:6). The other man understands he doesn’t deserve anything from God and he’s totally relying on God’s grace and mercy. Jesus informs us the second man is justified in the sight of God.

For those of us who’ve been saved for a little while, if we walk around with an attitude of self-righteousness based on what we’ve done, we’ll never be in position to be justified by God. But if we understand that we’re nothing without the grace and mercy through Jesus Christ, then we become justified.

For those who are still trying to understand their righteousness through Jesus Christ, realize the devil is deceptive. He’ll make us think that because we’re not perfect in our behavior and we’ve missed the mark in a certain area, we’re not worthy to be in God’s presence. That’s not true. The very fact that we have and acknowledge our flaws, but rely on the righteousness of Jesus Christ, qualifies us to receive God’s grace and mercy. Through Jesus we’re made perfect, holy, and acceptable in the sight of God.

We should continue to improve in our ways to be more Christ-like in the world, but always remember it is through Christ and Christ alone, that we’re justified.