The Dangers of Self-Righteousness
Nobody teaches a child to sin, it’s natural as mankind is born in iniquity. Nobody teaches us to be self-righteous, we already are by nature. Self-righteousness is just another kind of sin, which is mostly concealed. We don’t call it a sin, although it is the most dangerous kind of sin. We seldom repent of it, because we are not aware we are self-righteous.
Self-righteousness can make a person think he is better than others, while he is the worst of all sinners. Self-righteousness has many disguises. It can be false humility, hypocrisy, pride, good works without faith, works of flesh, persecution, condemnation, perfectionism, etc. Sadly, most of us who claim to be the followers of Jesus, are self-righteous people.
A self-righteous person looks good on the outside, by his good works and moral standing, but he is despised by God because his faith is not relying on God, but on his own efforts. “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside, but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness (Matthew 23:27-28 NIV).
Self-righteousness is extremely dangerous, because a self-righteous person is living in deception. A self-righteous person is self-assured, who thinks he has earned merits to get to heaven while rejecting Jesus, the only way to heaven, and so is destined for eternal damnation.
For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:20 NIV). These are profound words, my sisters and brothers. A self-righteous person will not enter the kingdom of heaven. God’s word is truth. He does not say anything lightly or casually. When God speaks, He means what He says.
I believe none of us want to be shocked on the day of judgement, that we are labelled as self-righteous and refused into God’s kingdom. This is not a sin you want to ignore or take it lightly. It is easier for a sinner to repent and enter God’s kingdom than for the one that is self-righteous.
A sinner is aware of his own inadequacy and is in need of a saviour. The self-righteous are ignorant of their sins and take pride in their own works to attain salvation and refuse to receive the true righteousness by faith. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes (Romans 10:3-4 ESV).
We are all born of sin and all our efforts of being good on our own works cannot make us righteous. Jesus Christ, the only Son of the living God took our place on the cross and died for our sins. Through this exchange, we receive His righteousness and become blameless in the eyes of God.
Therefore, righteousness cannot be earned, bought or worked for. It only has to be received from Jesus Christ. Our good works do not save us, however we do good works because we are already saved and made righteous. True righteousness is not our efforts, but a gift from God.
A self-righteous thinks he is better and superior than others. He lets others know about their wrongdoings, not for the sake of correcting them and leading them to the path of righteousness, but rather to criticize them and make them feel unworthy.
When he repents of his sins, instead of receiving God mercy, he feels guilty, condemned and strives to earn the mercy by doing good deeds. A self-righteous person feels he needs to be perfect before he prays for healing or deliverance of others. His prayer is not based on faith in God, but on his abilities. He merits on his own righteousness instead of the righteousness of God. He merit on his own credentials and moral standard instead of totally submitting to the will of God and receiving His grace, mercy and righteousness.
How can we move from self-righteousness to the righteousness of Jesus Christ? We repent of our sins and receive His mercy. We give up our self-righteousness that represents filthy rags in exchange for His righteousness. We die to our carnal self so that God can reign in us. We become righteous when we become nothing and He becomes everything for us.
We become righteous when we find our worth and value in not what we do, but who we are in Jesus Christ. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast (Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV).