[SW264] 01/06/2017 message notes by
Reverend Susan J. Wynn ©2017
“One Good Thing”
There is just “one good thing” you must do in order to be right in God’s eyes. What is it? What if you don’t do it?
Texts: Luke 18:9-14, Romans 3:9-18
The people listening to this parable from Jesus knew scribes (experts in the Law of Moses) and Pharisees. They “know” the scriptures, even memorizing them. The Pharisees were a very strict sect of Judaism, following the Law to the “nth degree.”
They were highly respected. And all who listened to this parable trusted in their own good deeds.
But here’s a red flag. Most of them rejected Jesus — God the Son. They surely would have recognized Him if they knew His Father (John 8:19, 42).
In the parable, a Pharisee prays about himself, saying to God, “Look at the good things I do! Look at how good I am! I’m glad I’m not like the sinners around me!” He did good things. So why was he not justified — that is, declared right in God’s eyes (righteous)?
He knew the scriptures by rote, and did the Law of Moses by rote. But he did not let the Word of God judge the thoughts and attitudes of his heart (Hebrews 4:12), which would have led him to do the “one good thing.”
What does their Tenakh, the Old Testament, say about the hearts of mankind? Let’s go to Romans 3:9-18, where the Apostle Paul, a former Pharisee and scholar, uses the Psalms to show you.
Do you see it? Even the most strict, rule-following Jew is the same as a Gentile (non-Jew) in his position before God. None are right before God, not even one. All are “under sin.” They are under its control — that is, until they do the “one good thing.”
What did Jesus say of the scribes and Pharisees? Both Jesus and John the Baptist called the scribes and Pharisees a brood of vipers. Even though they “kept the Law,” their hearts were darkened, just as mine was before I did the “one good thing.” Jesus said they created converts and made them twice the sons of hell as themselves (Matthew 23:15)!
Remember my last message? Jesus said prostitutes and tax collectors would enter the kingdom of heaven, because they repented at the teaching of John the Baptist!
There was no repentance in the Pharisee’s prayer about himself. It was about him, and the good things he did. But He did not do the “one good thing!”
He was not humble before God, but told God, “Look how good I have made myself!” That is pride, because humans are not good — none are good until they do the “one good thing.” He bore no fruit of repentance (Matthew 3:8). He justified himself, giving God a list of his many good deeds.
Jesus said, “Unless your righteousness surpasses (super-abounds, in the original Greek) that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:20). The Pharisee exalted himself; therefore, he would be humbled.
Now look at the tax collector. Such ones were not considered “unclean,” so they were able to pray in the Temple. But they were outcasts in Jewish society, because the Romans hired them to collect taxes from the Jews. And tax collectors commonly cheated the Jews, rigging the scales in their favor when weighing tax payments, so they could keep the difference for themselves.
But when this tax collector came before God in the Temple, all he could do is beat his chest (a sign of mourning) and plead for God’s mercy. And at that moment, he was considered right in God’s eyes.
He did the “one good thing”. He humbled himself. He repented. He didn’t brag about the good he had done. He knew he was not good and pleaded for mercy. So he was justified — made right in God’s eyes, by God. The humbled one was exalted.
That is the “one good thing” that you must do.
All of your good deeds — feeding the poor, giving to charities, doing acts of kindness are nothing in God’s eyes if you have not repented and turned to God through Jesus Christ. It is the “one good thing” you must do.
Why are all your good deeds nothing in God’s eyes? There are many, both Jew and non-Jew, who have rejected Jesus and yet do good things. Won’t God appreciate that?
No. The Word of God is clear. They will not enter the kingdom of heaven unless they humble themselves and repent, confessing that they are sinners in need of a Savior whom God the Father sent at great cost to Himself. When you don’t do the “one good thing,” you do not go to heaven, but to hell.
And now I hold up the banner of Christ! While you were yet a sinner, Christ died for you (Romans 5:8)! That is God’s act of righteousness, a demonstration of His character.
The “one good thing” is to cry out to God for mercy because you know you are a sinner who needs a Savior, confessing that your heart is not right. To such ones, God the Father then says, “These have understood My righteousness in sending My Son to bear their punishment, and have humbled themselves before Me, and asked for My mercy. Now, I will make them right in My eyes.”
By God’s grace and mercy, I received and believed His righteous act in sending His Son to bear the punishment for my sin, to bear the wrath of God that I deserved. So I was saved, and was no longer “under sin.” But I still sinned (willfully disobeyed God) in some things, even after I was saved.
Even after Christ died on that cross, there was still sin in the disciples. They feared the Jews and did not trust God nor believe Christ’s promise that He would be resurrected on the third day. So they locked their doors (John 20:19).
They had expected Jesus to become a natural King, and free them from Roman rule. But now He was gone and they were alone.
Even after Christ rose and spoke to His disciples for 40 days before ascending to the Father, there was still pride among them. Peter’s pride was revealed when he asked what would happen to John, in John 21:21. Peter asked, “What about this man?” He was referring to John. You tell me I will die on a cross (John 21:18). Will John get better treatment than me?” Jesus exclaimed, “What is that to you? Follow Me!”
THERE IS MORE!
There is then “one good thing” that Christ commanded His disciples to do — Stay (Luke 24:49)! Wait (Acts 1:4)! And for those who obeyed, PENTECOST happened, changing their hearts, just as my own personal Pentecost changed mine!
The disciples became bold, unafraid, and pride disappeared — they boasted only in Christ (1Corinthians 1:31). They became the “formerlies” of Ephesians 2:3. They no longer lived in the lust of the flesh and of the mind, indulging those desires.
They BECAME the righteousness (having the very character) of God when they stayed and waited. In 2Corinthians 5:21, the Greek does not say, “We MIGHT become,” as if it is a “maybe, someday, perhaps just before we die,” kind of thing.
The original Greek says we “become,” which means “you are made.” When you are filled with God’s Holy Spirit, all of His fruit is evident in you. You are a partaker of His divine nature (2Peter 1:4). Does it not follow that you then have His righteousness, which is His character, in you?
Beloved, there is nothing I can claim is “right” about me, apart from what God has done in me. All I could do was humble myself and repent and seek God’s mercy. I saw that I had unforgiveness in my heart, when Pastor Doc asked me about it. He couldn’t continue working with me unless I prayed to the Lord about it.
And so I went to the Lord and I did the “one good thing,” because I saw Him and wanted no sin to separate me from Him anymore — “I want to know you that way, Lord, like I read about in that book!” That was in April of 2001.
So He answered, and in the middle of the night on September 1-2, 2001, I was healed of MS. Then I began to cry out to be filled with His Spirit, and on November 1, 2001, He answered again. I stayed and waited until He did it. The Father and the Son came in to permanently dwell in me, by the Holy Spirit. And His righteousness flowed into me, so that I became a container of His righteousness — never my own, for I repeat, I have none apart from Him!
That is what He wants to do in you today. Do the “one good thing,” or you will not have eternal life with Him. You have free will to reject Jesus Christ, but know then that all of your do-gooding will mean nothing, and you will be judged by Him and go to hell.
That is not His desire nor plan for you. But it is up to you to receive the eternal life that He offers to you today! Do not be foolish, but repent and receive what God has offered.
And for you who do believe, do the “one good thing” that will set you free from sin. Confess that you still sin, and ask Your Father to give you a personal Pentecost (Luke 11:13).
He will do it, and you will become a container of His righteousness, a radiant, shining one to whom unbelievers and kings come (Isaiah 60:1-3), thus doing the “God works” your Father has prepared in advance for you to do (Ephesians 2:10)!