Three Kinds of Righteousness: 1. Self-Righteousness

“… {A}lthough I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more: circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless. But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and 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…” (Philippians 3:4-9; all Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible).

Image by rsand24 from Pixabay.

Since October 2020, most of the articles on this blog have discussed God’s righteousness and justice. These traits are so closely intertwined that we would be wise to think of them as a single attribute of God. This topic took on a life of its own as I studied it. When I started this series, I thought it would last just two or three months. It has taken about 10 months to complete this journey.

We are now reaching the end. As we approach the end of the series, it is good to remember that people have very different ideas about righteousness, and many Christians exhibit different kinds of righteousness. Some are better than others. In this post and the two that will follow it, we will look at three kinds of righteousness.

The first kind of righteousness is self-righteousness. This is the false righteousness one claims when they act like they have everything under control. They act like they do no wrong. They always find somebody else to blame when things go wrong. If they are caught doing something wrong, they will blame somebody else: their parents, another person, society, etc. They will never admit that they are wrong; they do not apologize; and they are better than you!

Some traditional churches observe a sacrament of confession. The believer specifically states the sins he has committed. It goes beyond saying, “Of course I sin; nobody’s perfect.” The person who is confessing states that “in recent weeks/months I have sinned in these specific ways….” Here is a powerful antidote to self-righteousness: taking the time to reflect on our thoughts, words, and actions, comparing them to God’s Word and will, and acknowledging how we have failed, remembering that we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

If you cannot say “I’m sorry” or “I’ll try to do better next time,” it is not because you are super-spiritual. It is likely that you are bound by a spirit of self-righteousness. The only antidote is hardcore confession.

Self-righteousness may stroke the ego, but it will not save your soul. Many people turn to religion for a solution. That does not always work either, as we will see in the next post in this series.

I would like to hear from you. Share your thoughts or suggestions by clicking the “Leave a comment” link below.

Copyright © 2021 Michael E. Lynch. All rights reserved.

Categories: Bible meditations, God's Moral Attributes | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Three Kinds of Righteousness: 1. Self-Righteousness

  1. Pingback: Three Kinds of Righteousness: 3. Christ’s Righteousness | Darkened Glass Reflections

  2. Pingback: Three Kinds of Righteousness: 2. Legal Righteousness | Darkened Glass Reflections

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