The Pen

Run From Self-Righteousness

“I’m a sinner, but I’m not as bad as the Duggars. They’re REALLY bad. I would NEVER have thought a thought like that!”

Beloved, there are two types of righteousness. There is a righteousness that comes from Jesus that is imputed (assigned or designated or accounted) to you by faith – I’ll call it “Christ-righteousness.” It’s not your righteousness, but it’s on loan to you. It’s actually Jesus’ righteousness judicially affixed to you. There is a second type of purported righteous that comes from self; your own attempt at holiness, your effort, and it’s called “self-righteousness.”

“Righteousness” means to “be right with God” in its plainest sense. It is to be “justified” before God. In other words, the end of righteousness is to be accepted by God.

Therefore, there are two ways or attempts to be right with God; first, to have faith in the accomplished work of Christ in his death, burial and resurrection or secondly, to have faith in your own self, your innate goodness, your effort or attempts at holiness.

Self-righteousness is an enemy of the Gospel. It is anathema to the Christian faith. We must hate it and despise it and wage war on it until it dies the brutal, bloody death it deserves. We have to mortify our own self-righteousness and pray that God crucifies it with Christ. When we wake up in the morning we will find our self-righteousness has resurrected itself and like a theologically-decrepit zombie it has raised again and latched onto our soul, and so we must strike it dead again with Scripture. Self-righteousness is a satanic parasite that feeds off of our good deeds and positive self-image and is watered by the work of our hands and soothes us with a deadly siren’s call to rest in our effort instead of Christ’s. Self-righteousness convinces us that we’re innately good and not as much a sinner as the next sinner. That beast affirms us and whispers softly in our ear and tells us that we’re not that bad and definitely not as bad as the guy that’s really bad. We cannot negotiate with this enemy, self-righteousness, or cozy up to him or have an amicable relationship. We must drive the Cross through its heart and take its scalp.

But where can we find refuge if we wage war with self-righteousness? Where can we run when we confess our sinful state? Where is our safe harbor when we sail the ship through a sea of our own committed sin? Self-righteousness is a brutal boyfriend and the end of him is death, but there’s a certain facade of safety there. Like battered women, we know that self-righteousness has a poisonous grip on us, but think “at least he provides.” We’re used to self-righteousness and there’s a comfortable familiarity with him. Where can we go if we were to cast off the notion that we’re not hopelessly sinful creatures? If we confess ALL of our sin and not just some of it, where can we find reprieve from God Almighty’s prosecution? “Let us hide here in self-righteousness,” we think. After all, where can we turn when we expose the sheer and utter nakedness of our transgressions?

The answer, beloved, is that we run to Christ’s righteousness. We must turn to Christ’s obedience. We must run to Christ’s right-standing with the Father and stand behind him as a human-divine shield for our wickedness. We must run away from self-righteousness stark naked and take on the righteous cover of Christ.

Kill your self-righteousness, Christian…before it kills you.


[Contributed by JD Hall]