01/25/M – The Dangers of Self-Righteousness

1 Chronicles 17:16-18:17; Romans 2:12-24; Psalms 11:1-6; Proverbs 5:1-6

NT: “For all who sin without the law will also perish without the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. For the hearers of the law are not righteous before God, but the doers of the law will be justified… Now if you call yourself a Jew, and rely on the law, and boast in God, and know his will, and approve the things that are superior, being instructed from the law, and if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light to those in darkness, an instructor of the ignorant, a teacher of the immature, having the embodiment of knowledge and truth in the law — you then, who teach another, don’t you teach yourself? You who preach, “You must not steal” — do you steal? You who say, “You must not commit adultery” — do you commit adultery? You who detest idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? For, as it is written: The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” (‭‭Romans‬ ‭2:12-13, 17-24‬ ‭CSB)

Many Jews in Paul’s day considered themselves immune from God’s judgement to come. After all, they were Jews – God’s chosen people… and they had God’s law to guide them. Comparatively speaking, they were much better off than the gentiles. The gentiles didn’t have God’s law and they were definitely not God’s chosen people. If God was going to judge anyone, it was definitely going to be the godless gentiles of the world. Paul sought to bring clarity into that delusion. It didn’t matter it you were Jew or gentile – if you had the law or not. What mattered (and what still matters) to God was actual righteousness – not a self-proclaimed belief of righteousness. Having the law did you no good if you didn’t obey it fully. According to Paul, there were actually gentiles that were “better off” than many Jews because they actually walked more inline with God’s law than those who had, knew, and understood the law. One of the dangers of self-righteousness is it give you a context to find fault in others without believing that you yourself are at fault as well. Self-righteousness leads to hypocrisy and deception, which ultimately leads to judgement and death.

Like the Jews of Paul’s day, Americans are very much in danger of living their lives in self-righteousness, hypocrisy and deception. After all, our nation was founded on Christian principles… we have a masterpiece of a constitution to guide us and guarantee our freedom of religion, speech, assembly and expression. We are a “Christian” nation with “In God We Trust” as one of our national mottos. We are the proverbial city shining on a hill. It’s been “prophesied” that we are God’s chosen nation. There is no way that God would judge us. As the United States became infected with COVID-19, the sickness of self-righteousness and deception in the American church was exposed. One side of the church may say, “We are for social justice… and because we are for social justice, we are more like Jesus.” And they point their fingers in judgement at the other side. The other side may say, “We are for law and order and the sanctity of life – so we are more like Jesus because we are all about obeying God’s commandments.” And they point their fingers back. The truth of the matter is that both sides have ceased following Jesus fully and have made a mockery of the Gospel to the unbelieving world. What then can we do to see the church healed? Humble ourselves, repent, turn to God, place our faith fully in Christ and follow Him completely – doing the work that He has called us to do as He transforms us by His grace. We need to present our bodies as living sacrifices to the Lord once again and quit trying to be conformed to the world – but instead be renewed in our minds and conformed to the Kingdom of God.

Psalms: “I have taken refuge in the Lord. How can you say to me, “Escape to the mountains like a bird! For look, the wicked string bows; they put their arrows on bowstrings to shoot from the shadows at the upright in heart. When the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord —his throne is in heaven. His eyes watch; his gaze examines everyone.” (‭‭Psalms‬ ‭11:1-4‬ ‭CSB)

As David surveyed the current landscape of his day, he realized there was no where on earth to escape the reach and influence of darkness and wickedness. The only place he could find refuge was in the presence of the Lord as he came before the Lord in humble and sincere worship. How do we stay safe from the influence of the world? How do we keep our minds free of deception? How do we prevent ourselves from falling in the trap of self-righteousness and hypocritical judgement? How do we stay above all the noise and distractions and maintain our godly discernment? We do it the same way David did in His day. We take refuge in the Lord by regularly and consistently coming before Him in humility and worship to seek His face, study His word, follow His ways and pray into His will.

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