What's Wrong With the World
Jesus used the character of the Pharisee and the tax collector to reflect two personalities in the world. One is he who seeks to obey by self- righteousness to God through religious moralism, or moral conformity. The other does not obey, but has a need for self-discovery, "I'll do what I want to do." Both are wrong, both are lost. The problem is us, as each of us reflects one of these two characters.
G.K. Chesterton put it correctly when he said, "The problem with the world is me". Now if you're a righteous person you might say, "How dare you say that?" Tim Keller wrote in his book, The Prodigal God, "This is how religious people respond when you suggest their relationship with God is not right. 'I'm there every time the church doors are open'." Jesus says, in effect, "That doesn't matter" (if moral conformity is your motive), and no one has ever taught anything like this. Often times we want to bargain with God; thus, we must define what is wrong with us if our motives are to see what we can get from God. We must ask the question:
Do I have a wrong perception of what God wants me to be, and how He wants me to act? Luke18:14 depicts a Pharisee and a tax collector, one is lost, one is saved. One is proud, one is humble. Here Jesus is saying, "The humble are in, the proud are out."