What do you think is the most dangerous of all the sins?
When we say the word “sin” what comes to mind? Do you think about other people’s sins or your own sins? Do you think about sins being things we can see, like bullying, or stealing, or yelling at your parents? Or do you think about sins that are on the inside, like anger, or pride?
The Bible tells us that the worst of all sins is self-righteousness.
Self-righteousness? What’s that?
Listen to how Paul explains it to the Romans in chapter 10:
Romans 10:3-4. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, [the Jews] did not submit to God’s righteousness.4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
Paul says that we “seek to establish our own righteousness.” In other words, we all try to prove that we are good enough. That we can make it on our own. That we don’t need help. Have you ever yelled “I can do it by myself” to your parents? Or “don’t tell me what to do!”?
We all have. We are all self-righteous. We all tend to think we can earn our way to being good, better, or best. We all tend to think that if we are better then God will love us more. But if we are worse God will love us less.
And here’s the real problem – when you are self-righteous you won’t trust Jesus as your savior. You won’t admit that you are sinful or that you need to be saved from your sin. You won’t think that you need God’s grace or help. You will try to be good on your own and you will miss out on Jesus and his forgiveness.
And that’s why Paul reminds us that “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness for everyone who believes.”
Jesus simply gives us his own righteousness when we believe in him and his work on the cross. Now we no longer have to keep the law to be righteous and perfect. Instead, we are called perfect by God because Jesus was perfect in our place. And when your life is connected to Jesus you get to be called everything that he is – righteous, good, perfect, holy.
So now we can stop committing the biggest sin of all – self-righteousness. And instead we can embrace our Jesus-righteousness and be free from having to be perfect because with Jesus we already are called perfect by God.
Because of Jesus we are made righteous by God’s grace not our own good deeds.
With Jesus we can simply love and trust God instead of always trying to be the best.
DO SOMETHING TOGETHER
Parents – be careful about unwittingly creating self-righteousness in your children. Things like self-esteem or rewards for good behavior can turn into self-righteousness in a child very easily. Talk to your kids about having a motivation of love. When we know we are loved by God and that we can love like God, then glorifying him is its own reward. Self-esteem can be replaced with love for others as the primary thing that makes us feel good inside.
The movie Cars is a good one to watch to illustrate self-righteousness. In the end however, Lightning McQueen learns to love others rather than prove that he’s the best.
You have given me your own righteousness when I trusted in you. Help me to simply trust you more and more today instead of trying to prove how good I am.
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