The Righteousness of the Self-Righteousness

"Brethren, my heart's desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge (about God). For not knowing about God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own (righteousness), they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes" (Romans 10:1-4).

The righteousness of the self-righteous is a stench in the nostrils of God reeking of the aroma of putrified filthy rags. In the community of humanity self-righteousness is an affront to the righteousness of God. This is especially true in the community of the redeemed. Self-righteousness is not an emotional attitude that people like to hate, it is all a way of life people are living, that is accepted as being the righteousness of God. Though wanting to avoid self-righteousness like the plague, people have learned to hate an emotional attitude rather than a way of life that is against the righteousness of God.

Though self-righteousness may be displayed through an arrogant and proud attitude, the subtleness of it is that a person who is living a self-righteous life can appear to be humble. Humility is one of the goals of a self-righteous person because humbleness is a characteristic of a person who walks in the righteousness bestowed on him by Christ.

Self-righteousness is not an attitude, it is a life style. It is to live a believer's life with the goal of pulling one's self up by one's own boot strings. This means that their objective is to improve themselves in order to be accepted and more pleasing to God by doing the do's and not doing the don'ts laid out by religion. Believers have used the word sanctification to describe their pursuit of pleasing God. Sanctification is not a work of man, it is entirely the work of God.

At the heart of all man's pursuits is the desire to become more righteous, more acceptable and more pleasing to God. These pursuits are characterized by the efforts of the individual. Thus we have the pursuit of self to be righteous...self-righteousness.

The typical religious understanding about how to live life as a believer is to figure out what is right and wrong and then to do what is right and don't do what is wrong. That is the essence of the lie in the garden, Satan told Eve that she could know the difference between right and wrong and be like God. This ability to know implies that they could choose to do what is right. They were deceived into thinking they could be "right" on their own. They could be like God and be right! In promoting self-righteousness we are promoting the very sin that brought about the fall of man. Self-righteousness is to determine for ourselves what is right and wrong and then to do the right and not do the wrong.

It is a good thing to want to be pleasing to God. Within all of us is a craving within our hearts to want a relationship of acceptance. The desire to please God is also a fruit of God's life in a person. The confusion of the confused is the desire to please God with a life that is lived trying to please Him by law and rule observance.

It is not within man's capability to be acceptable in his own right. This is partly what makes self-righteousness so abominable. We have created for ourselves a standard which we can never be meet. Our pursuit of self-righteousness empowers Satan to be the "accuser of the brethren" because failure is forever the reality.

The striving for pursuit of self-righteousness in the religious institutions is a reason for most of the apathy and arrogance of some believers. We have created a toxic environment where standards are raised and presumed to be followed. Most people know they are not measuring up yet most people pretend they are measuring up. Some people are waiting for the key that will finally cause them to measure up, while many are deceived into thinking they are measuring up!

We must stop measuring ourselves by both the religious standard and the Law standard. Measuring ourselves by any standard implicitly reveals our pursuit of self-righteousness. Week after week from over the pulpits of religious institutions preachers raise a standard, call their pew-warmers to examine themselves according to a measuring stick and challenge them to live up to those requirements, it can't be done. This is nothing less than a call to self-righteousness.

We must settle this issue of righteousness, as did the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Philippians he wrote, that I "may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith." (Phil. 3:9)

There is only one way to deal with the root of sin. We must rest from the pursuit of self-righteousness. We must accept the gift of His righteousness. It is finished...everyone in Christ is holy, blameless and fully acceptable to God. In contrast to those who think this message would unleash a backlash of sin, if believers would actually embrace Christ's righteousness alone, we would be empowered to turn away from sin because of the power of His love and grace.

Again..."Brethren, my heart's desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. For not knowing about God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes." (Romans 10:1-4)

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