Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, also heard all these things, and they derided Him. And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God. (Luke 16:14-15)
Jesus often found Himself at odds with the Jewish leaders of His day because of His teachings, miracles, and condemnation of their religious hypocrisy. One of the remarkable causes of disdain from the Pharisees and scribes came from the willingness of Jesus to accept the common man and to eat with them. The offscourings of the world were the tax collectors (also called “publicans”) and the morally destitute sinners. Jesus was willing to spend time with them and show them the love of God in teaching how to rise above their sins. He told the parable of the lost sheep and the lost coin to show the Pharisees and scribes that everyone is important to the Father. In the parable of the prodigal son, it was the elder son that stood aloof against the humility of the repentant son. The failure of human wisdom is to forget when men try to justify themselves in their own sight they are trying to make themselves greater than God. Jesus dined with the publicans and sinners to show them the way of God. The religious leaders despised those who were not like them esteeming themselves righteous by their own standard.
The common failure in religion is the importance of looking pious to the world while having a heart that is filled with pride and arrogance. What the world gives as honor and praise means nothing to God. Accolades of men are hollow when they do not measure up the standard of the Lord. The root of the problem is when men fail to understand the two views of life are found in what man sees and what God sees. One is fantasy and the other is reality. The view of man is skewed by his own self-importance. God looks directly on the heart and all that man is can be seen from the eyes of God. The infinite power of God knows all that a man thinks, what he says, where he goes and nothing is hidden from His sight. God knows the heart. When man was created the Lord did not allow him to have the ability to see in the soul of another man but as Creator God holds the keys to the mind, soul, and heart of every person. Jesus is reminding His disciples that man has his view and God has his view.
The second part of Jesus’ answer to the Pharisees who scoffed at Him was to know that it did not matter what man said was good and what man said was evil. The eternal challenge of humanity has been to try and change the will of God. Sin is defined as a transgression of the law. Man thinks he can change the law to redefine what sin is. The prophet Isaiah warned the people of calling good things evil and evil things good; or putting darkness for light and light for darkness; trying to change bitter to sweet and sweet to bitter. Israel of old justified themselves by declaring idol worship as the gods who delivered them but that did not change the reality of the word of God that said idolatry was an abomination. When Aaron created the golden calf at Mt. Sinai he told the people it was the god that delivered them from Egypt. What he said did not change the truth of God and the Lord punished the people because of their rebellion. Man’s view conflicted with the truth of God and nothing man could do would change the will of the Lord.
Every generation attempts to rewrite the word of God to fit their code of immorality. There are many churches today that appear as followers of Jesus Christ when in reality they have recreated the law of God to fit their own religious needs without any Bible authority. Their view is very different than what can be read in the word of God. There is an abundance of accepting sexual immorality like fornication, adultery, and homosexuality among religious groups but Jesus says that what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God. It is an utter failure for human wisdom to try and establish its code of morals apart from the word of God. Being religious does not change the word. The final reality is that when a man dies he learns the view of man has no bearing upon his eternal state. There will be no arguments at the throne of God, no debates, no appeals, and no attempts to justify self. Everything will be laid bare at the judgment bar of God because what man esteems is a stench in the nostrils of a holy God. The only view that will matter is the one that comes from the mind of God.