Recognizing and
OVERCOMING SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS
In Yourself

Everything I write is to be applied by the person reading it to himself. No one can control another person’s attitudes or actions. In fact we have very little control over ourselves, mainly because we do not see ourselves as God sees us. Self- righteousness is an attitude and, believe me, there are others who recognize it in us even if we do not. “Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto [some] men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.” Matthew 23:28 (KJV). Jesus recognized self-righteousness, and so do we in other people. The problem is to learn to recognize it in ourselves.

So, how do we recognize self-righteousness in ourselves? Whenever we feel that we have some benefit or advantage over someone else because we do–or refrain from doing–something, that is self-righteousness. Do you not drink alcohol and feel that this somehow makes you a better person than your acquaintance who does. It does not. Does that mean I advocate alcohol use? NO! It means that if you feel you have some moral advantage by not using it, you are exhibiting self-righteous behavior. Do you give to charitable endeavors because it may somehow make you a better person? It does not. When someone is hurt by your words or actions, do you try to explain why you did or said that, instead of confessing and asking forgiveness? That is self-righteousness.

God uses our sin to deal with other people. Does that pardon our behavior? NO! We still must repent and ask forgiveness for our own sin, regardless of the provocation, or even the eventual good that may come out of it.

Many Christians have a great zeal for God, “but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, that the man which doeth those things shall live by them.” Romans 10:2-5. God gave us the law to show us how impossible it is to live by it. We cannot. Only Jesus was able to live by the law, because he was born of God and not of Adam. “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:24-26. The law shows us our need for help. Jesus is that help. “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness: and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. . . . For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Romans 10:9-10&13.

Does keeping the law save us? NO! As a result of our being saved the Holy Spirit begins to work in our minds and hearts to instill the law. We begin to keep the law because Emmanuel (Jesus in us) is able. How then can we take pride in keeping the law when it is not we that do so?

Salvation is instantaneous. It is also a process–one that will continue as long as we walk on the earth. It is as if we are an old rusty fence post. At salvation the Holy Spirit pours the blood of Jesus over us. Thereafter, when God looks at us he sees the blood which is perfect. Underneath, the Holy Spirit begins to flake off the sin which floats to the surface for us to see. As we see it and confess it as sin the Holy Spirit takes it away. Little by little he cleanses us as we see and cooperate. He never forces us. He waits until we are willing. There are things we see but are unwilling to release. Then we need to ask him to make us willing to be willing. Eventually, if we remain willing to see our own sin, that fence post will be bright and new looking again.

I read in the newspaper (1-6-1989) about a teen-aged boy who starved to death because his father refused to accept charity, because “God will take care of us.” God does take care of us. He says, “Help the poor.” If the poor refuse help, how can we obey? God uses his people to help one another and others. There is no shame in receiving help when needed with thankfulness to God for his provision. This is humbling yourself. To refuse help is self-righteous pride. “Blessed are the poor in spirit [humble]: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:3. Being poor in worldly possessions can help us recognize our poverty of spirit. When we have an abundance of wealth, for a while we can cover up and hide from ourselves how much we need God’s help and redemption. Being poor is not necessarily a permanent condition. Help can lift us into a position where we are able to offer help to others in need. Besides, everyone has something to give; if not money or possessions, then love, concern, prayer, physical effort, or maybe just being there.

When someone is saved, the church immediately begins to teach him the law. The person begins to try to live by it as best he can, which is, of course, not perfectly. Only as the Holy Spirit writes the law on his heart, and it becomes manifested in his life, does it have any benefit in his relationship with God. Keeping the law or not keeping the law is the same, unless the keeping of it is an outflow of the new life within. This CANNOT be done by human effort. Therefore, when we look at someone and feel somehow superior or better because we keep some part of the law that we think they are breaking, that is self-righteousness.

There was an abusive woman with a foul mouth who had several small children. She was gloriously saved and prayed asking God to cleanse her foul mouth. During the next two weeks she cursed worse than ever. She was confused and hurt that the Lord had not helped her, until she realized that she had not hit any of her kids since she was saved. God knew better than she did what needed changing and when. “Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.” 1 Corinthians 4:5.

“But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man’s judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self. For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified [this does not justify me]: but he that judgeth me is the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 4:3-4. All our efforts at self- examination must be done prayerfully–asking the Holy Spirit to point out what he wants changed. Even in this we are not our own masters but must be subject in all things to the Lord. When someone points out a problem, even if you feel strongly that you are not guilty of it, do not reject their counsel, but accept what they say. Then, take it to the Lord in prayer asking him if and in what way you may be guilty. It may be an attitude problem on your part that he is now ready to correct. On the other hand, you may be the mirror the Lord is using to show that person something. In that case it is up to him to correct them, and your part is only to pray for them.

This is a self-portrait. Have you seen your self? If not, maybe you have not asked God to show you what he sees. It is not a pretty sight, but he is compassionate and merciful, and gives us a way out through his cleansing blood.

So, how do we overcome? We confess our sin as soon as we see and recognize it. Do not wait until “prayer time". Do not try to whitewash it with words. Do not try to put the blame on someone else. Own your own sin. That is the only way YOU can be cleansed of it. Jesus is able to save to the uttermost that which is committed to him. (2 Timothy 1:12.) Commit yourself to him one thing at a time until self is overcome and you walk in righteousness and true holiness.

All praise to his name! He is able! AMEN.

 

Do you claim to be a Christian? How much evidence is there in your life to support your claim? Would those closest to you testify in your favor?

HOLY BOLDNESS

I asked God for “holy boldness” so that I could speak out boldly to “witness” for him. Instead he spoke quietly to my heart this definition.

Holy boldness is saying, “Papa", in full confidence that the answer will be love and total acceptance–in spite of the fact that you were adopted from a pitiful, squalid existence into the family of a great and mighty king; and you haven’t yet learned the manners and customs of your new life. Your dirt has been washed away, and glorious new garments have been provided, but you haven’t learned to walk in your new shoes, and you keep falling into the mud and grime. Nevertheless your father, the glorious king, patiently and lovingly cleans you up and puts your feet back on the proper path.

THINK ABOUT IT!