Sermon #104                                                 Luke Sermons


     Title:          How Must A Sinner Come To God?

     Text:          Luke 14:7-11

     Subject:     A Show of Humility and True Humility

     Date:         Sunday Evening—September 28, 2003

     Tape #       X-79b




You may have noticed that it has been almost two months since I preached to you from the book of Luke. My last message to you from this book was taken from Luke 14:1-6, which describes our Lord’s miracle of grace on the sabbath day in healing the man with the dropsy in the house of one of the chief Pharisees.


You may have thought that I have forgotten that I have been preaching through the book of Luke, or just decided to stop at Luke 14:6. That is not the case. I have been studying this chapter for these last two months, trying to seek God’s message to our souls in the passage. I am confident that the Lord has given me that message. Let’s pick up in verse 7. The title of my message is this—How must a sinner come to God?


(Luke 14:7-11)  "And he put forth a parable to those which were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief rooms; saying unto them, {8} When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him; {9} And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room. {10} But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee. {11} For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted."


If we are to understand this portion of Scripture, we must read it and interpret it in its context. Our Lord is not here giving us a lesson on moral virtue. This is obvious for three reasons:


1.    He is addressing a band of lost, self-righteous religious Pharisees.

2.    That which he says here simply is not true with regard to earthly things.—In this world, if you want to get ahead, you must push your way ahead. If you want the highest seat, you must take it. If you are willing to settle for the lowest place, you are sure to get it. Everyone around you will gladly accommodate your wish.

3.    In his Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 6:1-8), our Savior taught us plainly that we must never attempt, in any way, to show our religion, to show godliness, or to show spirituality and devotion to God by any outward action.—Let us adorn the gospel (Tit. 2:10) by our behavior, always. But we must never make a show of godliness.


Having said that, be sure you understand me.—Believers, men and women who live for and seek the glory of God must never behave as proud worldlings do. Let it ever be ours to seek the glory of our God, the good of men, and the welfare of our brethren, each preferring the other better than himself, each submitting to the other, each promoting the other, and each serving the other.


Christ’s Example


Clearly, our Lord teaches us, by the parable in these verses, throughout the Scriptures, and by his own example that we ought to be, and always behave as, truly humble people. One passage will be sufficient to show this—Philippians 2:1-11.


(Phil 2:1-11)  "If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, {2} Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. {3} Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. {4} Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. {5} Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: {6} Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: {7} But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: {8} And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. {9} Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: {10} That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; {11} And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."


Here (Luke 14:7-11) our Master teaches humility in two ways. First, he tells those who are bidden to a wedding to “sit down in the lowest room.” Second, he declares a great principle, which frequently fell from his lips: “Whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased, and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”




The key to this parable is found in Proverbs 25:6-7.


(Prov 25:6-7)  "Put not forth thyself in the presence of the king, and stand not in the place of great men: {7} For better it is that it be said unto thee, Come up hither; than that thou shouldest be put lower in the presence of the prince whom thine eyes have seen."


The Lord must have had this passage in mind when he spoke this parable. He is the King to whose wedding feast sinners are bidden, before whom we must come in humility.


The shame and confusion of face which in this parable is represented as the lot of mortified pride does not always follow it in this world. Self-assertion, self-assumption, forwardness, and boasting, do not always entail a disgraceful fall upon the man who displays them. The meek do not as yet “inherit the earth,” though they assuredly will. David asks, how is it that ungodly men “speak so disdainfully, and make such proud boastings.”


Men who are ambitious and self-seeking at times attain to the height of their ambition, provided, of course, that they have other qualities, such as prudence, cleverness, and perseverance. But a day is coming when the words of Christ with which the parable concludes (v. 11), will be verified in the case of every man. He is the King before whom all pride displays itself, and before whom it will be abased.


And there is the greater reason that He should do so, for when He had the highest place in the universe next to the Eternal Father, He abased Himself, and took the lowest place, even the place of the cross of death, in order to save and exalt forever all who humble themselves before. The Judge at that day will remember and humble every act of pride, just as he will remember and reward those who humble themselves before him. He will bring every idle word into judgment, and make manifest the secrets of all hearts.


Yet, this humility is so contrary to our nature that we can never attain it. We can never perform it. We must be humbled by our God, or we will never humble ourselves before God. Oh, may God graciously humble us here rather than hereafter? It may be very bitter to have our pride mortified now, but it will be indescribably more bitter to have it mortified before men and angels, and before the presence of the great King and Judge of all the earth!


J. C. Ryle wrote, “Humility may well be called the queen of the Christian graces.” To know our own sinfulness and weakness, and to know our need of Christ, is the very beginning of salvation. This thing called “salvation” begins with the conviction of sin. Abraham, and Moses, and Job, and David, and Daniel, and Paul, were all truly humble men. They were men who knew themselves sinners before the thrice holy Lord God, sinners chosen, redeemed, called, forgiven, justified, and accepted in Christ.


What is humility? One word describes it. The root of humility is right “knowledge.” It is wrought in us by the revelation of Christ to us in that day when the Fountain of redemption is opened to us (Zech. 12:10; 13:1).


(Zec 12:10)  "And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn."


(Zec 13:1)  "In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness."


The man who really knows himself and his own heart, who knows God and his infinite majesty and holiness, who knows Christ, and the price with which he has been redeemed, that man is a humbled man. He counts himself, like Jacob, unworthy of the least of all God’s mercies. He says of himself, like Job, “I am vile.” He cries, like Paul, “I am chief of sinners.” (Gen. 32:10; Job 40:4; 1 Tim. 1:15).


He considers anything good enough for him, and indescribably better than he deserves. In lowliness of mind he esteems his brethren better than himself (Phil. 2:3). Ignorance—nothing but sheer ignorance—ignorance of self, of God, and of Christ, is the cause of all pride. From that miserable self-ignorance may we daily pray to be delivered! He is the wise man who knows himself; and he who knows himself, will find nothing within to make him proud and everything to humble him.


But our Lord does not here set humility before these Pharisees as a virtue to be cultivated. Rather, he is here exposing and rebuking the pride of that self-righteousness and unbelief that keeps sinners from trusting him.


Look at the context in which this parable is given. Our Lord has just healed a poor, despised, needy man of the dropsy on the sabbath day, thereby condemning the Pharisees who used him to bait a trap by which they hoped to destroy our Lord’s credibility as God’s prophet (vv. 1-6).


Now, notice that the opening word of verse 7, though it begins a new paragraph, is a conjunction. When the Pharisees could not answer him, we read…


(Luke 14:7)  "And he put forth a parable to those which were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief rooms."


Then, after giving the parable, the Lord declares to the proud Pharisee who had invited him to dinner that true humility, true goodness serves those who can give nothing in return, from whom no benefit can be derived (vv. 12-14).


(Luke 14:12-14)  "Then said he also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompense be made thee. {13} But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: {14} And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just."


Again, I must tell you what the Lord is not teaching. He is not teaching this work monger how to earn God’s blessing in the resurrection. Rather, he is teaching this man how God dispenses his favor—FREELY! The gospel of Christ is likened to an invitation to a great feast. And the Lord God, our great Savior graciously calls the poor, the maimed, the lame, and the blind, those who cannot recompense him, to his banqueting table.


One man in the crowd understood exactly what the Master was saying. Look at verse 15.


(Luke 14:15)  "And when one of them that sat at meat with him heard these things, he said unto him, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God."


Then, our Lord continues his instruction. Remember, he is still in the Pharisee’s house. He is still talking about how men are to behave when they are invited to a wedding feast, specifically how poor sinners must come to God’s great wedding feast.


(Luke 14:16-24)  "Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: {17} And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. {18} And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. {19} And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. {20} And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. {21} So that servant came, and showed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. {22} And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. {23} And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. {24} For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper."


Now, let’s go back to verse 11 and learn what our Lord is teaching us here. How must a sinner come to God?


Proposition: We must come to God, we must come to Christ as humble, worthless, doomed, damned, helpless, bankrupt sinners, taking our place in the dust before him.—"For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted."


This is a mystery that natural men do not understand. This is something no man will ever understand until he is born of God and taught by his Spirit (1 Cor. 2:7-14).


(1 Cor 2:7-14)  "But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: {8} Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. {9} But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. {10} But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. {11} For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. {12} Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. {13} Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. {14} But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned."


·       In the natural world the way up is up, but in the spiritual world the way up is down. "He that humbleth himself shall be exalted."


·       In the natural world, to live is to live, but in the spiritual world the way to live is to die (Matt. 10:39).


(Mat 10:39)  "He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it."


·       In the natural world men find satisfaction in their own strength, but Paul declared, "When I am weak, then 1 am strong" (2 Cor. 12:10).


·       The greatest thing God can do for a person (whatever the cost) is to show him in heart and soul the vanity of all things in this world (Eccles. 1:2, 14) and to turn his interest, affection, love and concern from the world to Christ (Matt. 5:3-12).


(Mat 5:3-12)  "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. {4} Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. {5} Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. {6} Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. {7} Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. {8} Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. {9} Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. {10} Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. {11} Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. {12} Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you."


To be full is to be emptied of self, to be wise is to become a fool for Christ's sake, to be clothed is to be stripped, to receive is to give, to reign is to serve and to be rich is to become poor.


(Prov 16:18-19)  "Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall. {19} Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud."


(Mat 5:3)  "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."


(Mat 11:29)  "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls."


(James 4:6)  "But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble."


Would you come to God and obtain the mercy and grace that only he can give? Come on. Come, taking the only ground he gives, as a poor sinner with nothing to give, trusting Christ alone for everything.


(1 John 1:7-10)  "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. {8} If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. {9} If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. {10} If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us."


Let us ever come to God just as we came to him in the beginning.—“As ye have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him.


Nought have I gotten, but what I received.

Grace hath bestowed it, since I have believed.

Boasting excluded, pride I abase—

              I’m only a sinner, saved by grace!