The 2007 movie “There Will Be Blood” follows the life of Daniel Plainview, a ruthless and self-destructive oilman who seeks wealth during California oil boom of the late 19th century. Opposite Plainview is the young pastor of the local Church of the Third Revelation, Eli Sunday. Though initially portrayed as sinner and saint, it becomes obvious that Sunday shares Plainview’s greed and lust for power, achieving it through the pulpit rather than the oil well. The two are frequently brought into conflict, which is best seen when Plainview is coerced into joining Sunday’s church. In the scene, Plainview is forced to repent in front of the congregation while Sunday berates him, reveling in the momentary turning of the tables.

The scene, to put it lightly, is arresting in its sparse intensity.  For the Christian, it is even more jarring when considering the power politics that play out during what should be a sacred occasion. For Plainview, his show of repentance is to get out of crime. For Sunday, Plainview’s repentance is a moment of revenge.Both of these characters approach repentance in a grotesquely self-centered way, which heightens the viewer’s revulsion for these two men. I believe, however, that we have far more in common with these characters than we expect.

This Sunday we discuss that there are two types of people: those who are repentant or those who are self-righteous. However, if we are to investigate our own heart, we would see that even our best attempts at repentance are marred by our own self-interest. We often revert to thinking it is the quantity or quality of our repentance matters, believing that if we repent more often or more sincerely that we will be more forgiven.  Both of these are noble pursuits, but can be just as self-centered as the repentance of Daniel Plainview.

In this week’s passage, we see that holiness is not found in the self-righteous lifestyle of the Pharisee, but in the brokenness of the prostitute. Whereas the first sought to win Christ’s favor by inviting Him into his home to eat, the other pled for Christ’s mercy at his feet, realizing He was her only hope.  It is in the manner of the forgiven prostitute that we find the solution to our own deficient repentance.  Rather than repenting in order to win favor we repent in order to win mercy from the one against whom we have transgressed. It is there, at His feet, that we are forgiven and that we are accepted as sons and daughters of the King.

Let us repent often and repent well to the one who forgives greatly, our Lord Jesus Christ!



Scripture: Luke 7:36-50
Sermon: Repentant or Self-Righteous


Come Ye Sinners (arr. Indelible Grace)
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God Be Merciful to Me  (arr. Indelible Grace)
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Mighty to Save (arr. Hillsong)
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Jesus I Come  (arr. Indelible Grace)
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Song of Preparation: Kind and Merciful God  (arr. J.D. Goodwyne)
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Song of Response: Jesus What a Friend For Sinners  (arr. Traditional)
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1. What are some of the fundamental differences between the way that the woman and the Pharisee are portrayed in this passage? When confronted with your sin, do you react (most frequently) with the brokenness of the woman or the indignation of the Pharisee? How might this passage help you cultivate a life marked by repentance and faith?

 2. Who is a person (or type of person) to whom you find it nearly impossible to love? How might you pray specifically for God to give you a loving heart for this person/people? What is one way you can practically extend grace to this person/people this week?
3. What are two passages of scripture that speak of the blessing that is bestowed upon repentant sinners? When is a point in your life that you repented of a specific sin and noticed God’s blessing? How might this inform your present Christian life?


Written by : uptownworship


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