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Sunday, July 16, 2017 pm 

THE SIN OF SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS

     Tonight, we want to address a potential problem that we can develop in our lives if we are not careful.  It is a problem that will affect both you and those around you, even your brethren.  It is a problem that sometimes blinds us to the truth about who we are and where we stand before God.  The problem I want to address is self-righteousness.

 I.                     What is self-righteousness?

a.       What is righteousness? Acting in a right way.  When we speak of righteousness, we mean acting so that one is right with God.  Acts of righteousness would be doing what God says to do in the way He says to do it.  To be obedient (both in deed and attitude) is to be righteous. 

b.       Self-righteousness is: It is an attitude in which you declare yourself righteous based your own conduct or standard (you define what it means to be righteous).  It is trusting in yourself that you are righteous – Luke 18:9. Romans 10:3 speaks of Israel seeking to establish their own righteousness.
Hosea 12:8, And Ephraim said, ‘Surely I have become rich, I have found wealth for myself; In all my labors They shall find in me no iniquity that is sin.’

c.        Self-righteousness is NOT:

                                                   i.      Carefully obeying the law – 1 Timothy 4:6, 2 Timothy 3:10.  We are called upon to work out our own salvation – Ephesians 5

                                                 ii.      Being zealous and devoted – Titus 2:14 – we are to be a people zealous for good works

                                                iii.      Addressing sin – 2 Timothy 4:2 – preachers and elders are called upon to reprove and rebuke

                                                iv.      Refusing to fellowship sin – 2 John 9-11, 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1

                                                  v.      Believing in absolute truth – Ephesians 3:3-5, 5:17, 2 Timothy 3:16-17

                                                vi.      Being concerned about drifting and error – Hebrews 2:1, 3:12-13

d.       It is an attitude that causes one to think of himself better than others and to judge them according to his own standard.  It is often a cynical view that magnifies the faults in others, makes rash judgments without all the facts, and fails to consider the motives, character, circumstances and goodness in others.

e.       It is thinking you are right based upon keeping the law – cf. Philippians 3:9 “not having my own righteousness.”   NOTE: IF we do any of the above things (what self-righteousness is NOT) with an improper attitude it CAN lead to self-righteousness.  
For example: Someone may reason, “I’m genuinely concerned about these things, so I must be righteous” and he proceeds to pat himself on the back because he’s so good and better than everyone else.

 II.                   Examples in scripture

a.       We can find many examples of self-righteousness in scripture.  Often, when we think of the Pharisees and other Jewish religious leaders who were determined to destroy Jesus, we see self-righteousness.  It was ONE of the qualities of these leaders.

b.       Mark 3:1-2 – as Jesus entered a synagogue and saw a man with a withered hand.  They watched Jesus closely because it was the Sabbath to see if He would heal him “so that they might accuse Him.”
Here we find those looking for faults with which to condemn the righteous and make themselves look good.

c.        Mark 7:1-2 – the Pharisees and some of the scribes saw some disciples of Jesus eating bread with unwashed hands, “they found fault.”  In Matthew 15:1-11 Jesus exposed their traditions and nullifying the word of God.  Here we find attempts to bind one’s own traditions upon others and condemnation when they don’t do things the way you want it done.

d.       Luke 7:39 – Simon, with whom Jesus was eating.  When a woman (7:36-38) washed the feet of Jesus with her tears and wiped them with her hair and kissed and anointed His feet, Simon spoke to himself judging Jesus, “If He were a prophet, He would know what kind of a woman this is.”  This prompts Jesus to tell a parable of forgiveness and to expose his self-righteousness. 
Here we find judging the motives of others based upon outward appearances (without all the facts)

e.       Luke 10:29 – a lawyer who was testing Jesus by asking what the greatest commandment was.  When Jesus answered we read that he wanted to justify himself and asked, “who is my neighbor?”
Here is one seeking to justify himself though his supposed wisdom (making him superior to others)

f.        Luke 15:29 – the prodigal brother – “I have served you all these years…”
Here is one who thinks he has EARNED his righteousness.

g.       Luke 16:15 – Jesus spoke of the Pharisees who derided Him for His teachings.  He said they sought to justify themselves before men.  Here are those who are more concerned about what men think of them, and holding on to their own ways.

h.       Luke 18:9-14 – the consummate example of self-righteousness.  A Pharisee goes to the temple and prays.  He brags about how good he is and how he is NOT like the wicked and even “this tax collector”.  Jesus condemned his self-exalting attitude.
Here is one who exalts himself because he is better than someone else.  The Bible describes this as one comparing themselves among themselves (2 Corinthians 10:12).

i.         John 11:47-50 – the chief priests and Pharisees gathered a council and determined it to be expedient for Jesus to die so that the nation would not perish.
Here are those who seek to destroy one who is truly righteous because he dares to challenge their conduct and motives.  Those who are genuinely righteous make them look bad (by example and word, exposes their corruption).  This is one of many examples of form service.

 III.                 Dealing with self-righteousness

a.       Seek to be righteous on God’s terms – Please understand we MUST be righteous.
Matthew 5:6 – hunger and thirst after righteousness.
Matthew 5:20 -  a righteousness that exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees – a genuine righteousness.

b.        Be aware of your unworthiness - Realize that your righteousness before Him is as filthy rags.
We have done what was our duty (Luke 17:10). 
Luke 18:13 – the tax collector – God be merciful to me, a sinner.
Matthew 5:3 – “Blessed are the poor in Spirit”.  This is where a true walk with God will begin!

c.        Humble yourselves before God
Matthew 5:4-5 – Blessed are those who mourn and are meek – this is the humble attitude that turns to God.
1 Peter 5:5-6 – submit and be clothed in humility.  Realize that God resists the proud.  Therefore, humble yourself under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.
James 4:7-10 – submit to God, humble yourselves in His sight and let Him lift you up. 

d.       Humble yourselves before others – Romans 12:3 – calls for us not to think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think.
Philippians 2:3-4 – we need to look out for the interests of others rather than ourselves.
Consider the example of Jesus – Philippians 2:5-8.  Think of what He gave up for us!

e.       Do not put your confidence in the flesh – 1 John 2:15-17 tells us not to love the world or the things in the world.
1 Timothy 6:17 – a command to the rich, not to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God.
Philippians 3:3-11 – Paul was of those who had no confidence in the flesh.  He could have (and gave his “credentials”), but he gave it all up “for the excellence of the knowledge of Jesus Christ my Lord… and that I may be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; (vs. 9)

f.         Look for the good in others instead of seeking to find the speck
Matthew 7:1-5 – Jesus warned of hypocritical judgment.  He warned of one looking for every little fault in others, especially while you ignore your own faults (isn’t this descriptive of the Pharisees we addressed above?  Consider Mark 7:2 where they found fault because the disciples didn’t wash their hands).  Judge others as you would want to be judged. 
Judge with righteous judgment – John 7:24 – do not judge according to appearance, but with a righteous judgment.
Friends, I am NOT telling you to ignore sinful conduct or to not be concerned about things you observe.  But I am saying we need to do some serious examination about ourselves if we are part of the problem, AND to look at the whole picture (for example: You may see a perceived fault in another, or in your brethren in general, but you don’t know the good they are doing and not telling you about it – because they are NOT self-righteous or seeking self-glory). 

g.       Look into God’s mirror – James 1:22-25

We need to honestly examine ourselves with a humble heart, and with the intention of doing what God says, not only in deed but with a godly attitude.  That means we are examining HIS word with the intention of obeying it for the right reasons, not selfishly. 

 

Self-righteousness is something we all need to be concerned about.  May we with humility resolve to be righteous according to God’s standard, and not our own.  Let Him exalt you instead of you exalting yourself.  Think about it.