Self-righteousness is the sin of justifying yourself. It comes in 2 different forms:
- Cain tried to hide his feelings of inadequacy and jealousy by being proud of his accomplishments, which didn’t work, and eventually caused him to murder his brother (Genesis 4)
- Nebuchadnezzar was so proud of his accomplishments that he believed he was greater than the power and glory of God, which cost him everything until he was humbled (Daniel 4)
The first is a sad hypocritical attempt to make yourself feel more worthy. The second is the sin of self-idolatry because it sets yourself above God. In the extreme, a self-righteous person may not think they need a savior because they are good enough. Strangely, the sin of self-righteousness is very hard to see in yourself because it usually involves the hypocrisy of judging yourself more gently than others and judging others more harshly than yourself. Ironically, self-righteous hypocrites are quick to accuse others of this sin because it almost always puts people on the defensive.
You might be a self-righteous hypocrite if…
- You judge the sins of others, but overlook your own sins
- You judge the sins of others based on your own criteria
- You are more concerned about actions than heart attitudes
- You are more interested in judging than restoring
- You always have an excuse for everything about yourself
You might be a self-righteous self-idolator if…
- Other people don’t know as much truth as you
- Other people don’t obey God as well as you
- Other people aren’t quite as righteous as you
- God is pleased and proud of your accomplishments
- You are willing to stand alone on your doctrine
The judgement against self-righteousness
I don’t throw the word “damnable” around with careless abandon. But, this is a serious issue. I call self-righteousness a damnable sin for 2 reasons: God has warned he will judge this sin and it obscures the gospel of salvation.
The cure for self-righteousness
Just like Nebuchadnezzar experienced, the only cure for self-righteousness is to lift your eyes to heaven and understand how amazing God is and how pathetic we are by comparison, then you can praise and extol and honor the King of heaven (Daniel 4).
- All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted (Matthew 23)
- All of you must clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another, for “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (1 Peter 5)
- Warning against forgetting the Lord: due to friendship with the world, judging one another, and boasting about tomorrow. (James 4)
- Be content with weakness, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12)
- Who is king of your life?
- What is legalism?
- Two men went up to the temple to pray, which one was justified?
- Accidental Pharisees: Avoiding Pride, Exclusivity, and the Other Dangers of Overzealous Faith by Larry Osborne
Found on the web
- The Damnable Sin of Self-Righteousness (Romans 2:1-5)
- What does the Bible say about self-righteousness?