Self-righteous Christians: Is This the Norm?
by Rich Deem
Christians seem to like to tell other people how to behave and act as if they never do anything wrong. They also tend to focus only upon a few moral issues – namely abortion and gay marriage – seemingly to the exclusion of more important issues, such as justice and care for the poor. Is this the kind of behavior the Bible commends or are these people acting against what biblical Christianity actually stands for?
What is being self-righteous?
To begin the discussion, it would be good to know what the words “self-righteous” really mean. Here is the definition from the The American Heritage Dictionary1:
- Piously sure of one’s own righteousness; moralistic.
- Exhibiting pious self-assurance: self-righteous remarks.
So, a self-righteous person is one who acts as if he is morally superior to everyone else.
Righteousness and the Christian
If there is anything that is antithetical to Christianity, it is a person who thinks that they can be righteous by their own good works. The Bible says that all people are sinners and that none can meet God’s standard for righteousness.2 Both the Old Testament3 and New Testament4 say that righteousness comes from God alone. Righteousness for human beings is on the basis of faith in God’s promises. Accordingly, the Old Testament says that God would send the Messiah as the source through whom righteousness would come to mankind.5 The New Testament says that Jesus of Nazareth is that Messiah and that righteousness comes only through faith in Him.6 So, a person is declared righteous based upon faith in the sacrifice of Jesus.7 The Old Testament even indicates that Abraham was considered righteous because He believed God.8 The New Testament indicates that one does not become righteous by obeying God’s law,9 but by the mercy of God through the sacrifice of His Son.10 So, righteousness for a Christian is something that is imputed by God and one can never be “self-righteous”…
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