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"Righteous" Hypocrite or Repentant Sinner?

If you had two children, one that made a very good public show of honoring and obeying you, but rarely actually did, and another who honestly tried to honor and obey you most of the time, and actually did so despite occasional failures for which he was genuinely sorry, which would you say was the truly righteous one?

"Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the Kingdom of God before you"

Jesus Christ asked that question to "the chief priests and the elders of the people" (Matthew 21:23 KJV) who put on a very righteous show before God. In their self-righteousness, they provoked the question when they accused the Son of God of doing wrong because He associated with "sinners."


"But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard." (Matthew 21:28 KJV)

First, the example of the son who disobeyed his father, "but afterward he repented."

"He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went." (Matthew 21:29 KJV)

Then, the example of the other son who was very respectful and obedient to his father by appearance and promises, but never really did what his father told him to do.

"And he came to the second, and said likewise.

And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not." (Matthew 21:30 KJV)

Jesus then asked them for their answer, to which they replied that the repentant sinner was the truly righteous one. Their answer exposed their hypocrisy.

"Whether of them twain did the will of his father?

They say unto Him, The first." (Matthew 21:31 KJV)

Then the point of the lesson; only repentant people are righteous, whoever they are to begin with, whether "publicans and harlots," or "chief priests and elders."

"Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.

For John [see John's Last Days] came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him." (Matthew 21:31-32 KJV)

Fact Finder: Jesus referred to John the Baptist in the verses above. What did John call them after they refused to truly repent and obey God?
See Spiritual Vipers

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