Isaiah 64:6: "We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away."
Luke 14:11: "For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Proverbs 16:2: "All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit."
Out of all the definitions of self-righteousness, the one that stands out to me is "believing that you are morally better than others." This means that a self-righteous person usually believes they are upright, perfect, and superior to others. A self-righteous person is not usually someone lazy or complacent. Quite the opposite, they typically try to outperform others and maintain their "perfect" image. When God spoke to me about this topic, I was sure it did not relate to me but Alas! I, too, needed work in this area. Self-righteousness can be subtle and may disguise itself as perfectionism, self-reliance, and deserving. At the core of it, a self-righteous person is a proud person.
As Christians, it is easy for us to mistake self-righteousness for righteousness. However, the main difference is our heart posture. We cross the line whenever our heart posture shifts from love to entitlement. Because self-righteousness stems from a place of pride, it will always want to appease our flesh and try to deceive us that the more righteous activity we perform, the more we deserve God's blessings.
Secondly, self-righteousness breeds entitlement. If we remember the story of Job in the bible, Job was self-righteous; he believed that because he was upright and perfect, he deserved everything he possessed. He believed that as long as he kept doing good, he was entitled to everything God blessed him with. But God had to allow Job to lose everything to humble him. Self-righteousness is a tough sin to unmask because of its similarity with righteousness. If God had told Job he was self-righteous, Job would not have believed, or he would have found another way to atone for his self-righteousness. So the best way was for God to allow the devil to strip him of everything he had to show him what was in his heart. This shows that it takes the wisdom of God to identify the areas we may be dealing with self-righteousness.
Thirdly, self-righteousness comes with discontentment and comparison. A self-righteous person will always believe that they are better than others. They begin to weigh their sins (holiness) against others. This is a dangerous place to be because we start working extra hard to "buy" God's love. We begin to judge others because their sins do not look like ours. And then, we think we deserve more because our sins are "smaller" than someone else's. So, when we do not receive what we think we deserve, we become discontent and angry with God. This can get exhausting and affect our relationship with God.
Lastly, a self-righteous person will always perform religious activities to sustain God's love/ blessings. Going back to the story of Job, an important question to ask is, all the charity and sacrifices Job made, was it because he loved God or because he was trying to buy God's love? It is evident from reading the whole story that it was the latter. Job believed that as long as he made those sacrifices, his children would not die, and as long as he gave to the poor, he will be wealthy. Job's life is fascinating because he was a good man, he served diligently, and we can even agree that he was upright and disciplined, but he had a heart problem- he did not genuinely reverence God. This is a significant problem most believers face, and it makes us to neglect our relationship with God because we are jo busy performing "righteous activities." And we forget that God is more interested in our hearts.
In conclusion, we must remember that whatever we do, we must do it because of our love for God and to reveal God's glory on earth. We may do all the right things, but if our heart is far from God, it will not matter. Indeed, all those righteous activities will not matter if they come from a place of self-righteousness.
I pray that God will reveal to every one of us the areas that we may be walking in pride. I pray for His mercy to help correct our errors, and may the Holy Spirit continue to lead and direct our path.
Salvation Prayer: If you stumbled on this blog and you do not know this "God" I write about, but you feel a leading in your spirit to learn more. Well, Welcome! God loves you and has led you here for a reason. If you desire to build a relationship with Him, the first step is to say this prayer below:
Lord Jesus, I come today as a sinner.
I know that I have turned away from You several times.
Today, I confess and repent of all my sins,
I believe You died for me and rose again,
I ask that Your precious Blood purify my life.
I ask that You change me, renew me and lead me.
Become my Lord and personal Savior.
Now, I am yours and I am Born Again.
Thank you Lord for saving me. Amen.
Congratulations, the Bible tells us that every time someone gives their life to God, there is a celebration in heaven over that person; you are loved and celebrated at this moment and forever. Amen!
Next steps: I urge you to find a church to join; you may also reach out via the Contact section if you have any questions. We would love to help you with your walk with Christ. God loves you!