Behavior modification that’s not empowered by God’s heart-changing grace is self-righteousness, as repugnant to God as the worst sins people gossip about.
Augustine of Hippo
If you believe what you like in the Gospels, and reject what you don’t like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself.
Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?
Most of us use ‘I’m waiting for God to reveal His calling on my life’ as a means of avoiding action. Did you hear God calling you to sit in front of the television yesterday? Or to go on your last vacation? Or exercise this morning? Probably not, but you still did it. The point isn’t that vacations or exercise are wrong, but that we are quick to rationalize our entertainment and priorities yet are slow to commit to serving God.
If my own righteousness is all that I am relying on, then I have no hope of finding favor in God’s sight. This is perhaps the hardest part of the Christian message to get across to people – the fact that we are not automatically headed for heaven. The truth is that our sin – not just the wrong things that we have done, but the very attitudes of our hearts – drives us away from God. That’s why the gospel has always been better received among the prostitutes and drug addicts and losers than among the rich and famous. These people don’t find it hard to believe that they have nothing to offer God.
It is easier to cry against one-thousand sins of others than to kill one of your own.
An obsession with righteousness (leading invariably to self-righteousness) is the normal human condition.
Jesus insists on this willingness to change, because he knows that self-righteousness will separate us from God forever. We’re all at high risk of becoming sick with self-righteousness, and if we don’t submit to his healing, it’s terminal.
Biblically, the word righteous means approved by God. It’s something God judges as good or right. To be self-righteous, then, simply means we’ve met that standard in our own eyes. As we’ll see, this is very, very important to us and, I believe, animates so much of what we actually do in life.
In fact, the impression I get from Jesus is that the battle against our own self-righteousness is our biggest battle of all.
Jesus warns us against our self-righteousness in the most dire terms. (He uses the word hell a lot more often than most of us are comfortable with.) He’s quite aware that while we humans have seemingly insatiable, unstoppable lusts for everything—fame, money, sex, power, tickets to Hamilton, pumpkin-spice products—it’s actually our pride that will doom us.
I’ve learned that Jesus is both terribly dangerous and terribly safe. For the proud, he is the biggest threat imaginable. And for the humble, he is the securest refuge.
Self-righteousness is a sense of moral superiority that appoints us as prosecutor of other people’s sinfulness. We relate to others as if we are incapable of the sins they commit. Self-righteousness wages war against mercy.
In spinning a robe of your own righteousness, before the sun goes down you will find it all unraveled.
Stanislaw J. Lec
When you are smashing monuments, save the pedestals they always come in handy.
When a person has lost Christ, he must fall into the confidence of his own works…. Take great care that no one goes to mass trusting in confession, or prayer, or self-preparation; but lacking confidence in all these things let him rather go in high confidence in the Christ who gives the promise.
Ah, there is nothing more beautiful than the difference between the thought about sinful creatures which is natural to a holy being, and the thought about sinful creatures which is natural to a self-righteous being. The one is all contempt; the other, all pity.
That which of all things unfits man for the reception of Christ as a Savior, is not gross profligacy and outward, vehement transgression, but it is self-complacency, fatal self-righteousness and self-sufficiency.
Sharon Hodde Miller
My devotion to niceness has won me a lot of acceptance and praise, but it has also inhibited my courage, fed my self-righteousness, encouraged my inauthenticity, and produced in me a flimsy sweetness that easily gives way to disdain.
Dwight L. Moody
God has nothing to say to the self-righteous.
God is none other than the Savior of our wretchedness. So we can only know God well by knowing our iniquities… Those who have known God without knowing their wretchedness have not glorified Him, but have glorified themselves.
The self-righteous never apologize.
Beware of self-righteousness in every possible shape and form. Some people get as much harm from their “virtues” as others do from their sins.
Stop being so sure that you are always right, and others wrong. Don’t trust your own opinion, when you find it contrary to that of older men, and especially to that of your own parents. Age gives experience, and therefore deserves respect.
Many have passed the rocks of gross sins – who have suffered shipwreck upon the sands of self-righteousness.
The greatest enemy to human souls is the self-righteous spirit which makes men look to themselves for salvation.
God will not go forth with that man who marches in his own strength.
Self-righteousness exclaims, “I will not be saved in God’s way; I will make a new road to heaven; I will not bow before God’s grace; I will not accept the atonement which God has wrought out in the person of Jesus; I will be my own redeemer; I will enter heaven by my own strength, and glorify my own merits.” The Lord is very wroth against self-righteousness. I do not know of anything against which His fury burneth more than against this, because this touches Him in a very tender point, it insults the glory and honor of His Son Jesus Christ.
Sermon 502: A Jealous God, 1863.
John R.W. Stott
Every time we look at the cross, Christ seems to say to us, “I am here because of you. It is your sin I am bearing, your curse I am suffering, your debt I am paying, your death I am dying.” Nothing in history or in the universe cuts us down to size like the cross. All of us have inflated views of ourselves, especially in self-righteousness, until we have visited a place called Calvary. It is there, at the foot of the cross, that we shrink to our true size.
It is difficult (maybe impossible) to write about self-righteousness without being self-righteous. [Editor’s Note: One might argue the same about preaching!]
Self-Righteousness: The Secret to Getting Better,” Keylife.org, July 12, 2017.
M. Scott Peck
A predominant characteristic . . . of the behavior of those I call evil is scapegoating. Because in their hearts they consider themselves above reproach, they must lash out at anyone who does reproach them. They sacrifice others to preserve their self-image of perfection.
M. Scott Peck
It is characteristic of those who are evil to judge others as evil. Unable to acknowledge their own imperfections, they must explain away their flaws by blaming others.”
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