SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS

"Do you think that Christians are better than non-Christians?"

The Christian is no better than a non-Christian, but he is infinitely better off. It is like two men on a plane, one of whom is wearing a parachute while the other is not. Neither is better than the other, but the man with the parachute is certainly better off than the man who is not wearing a parachute. The difference will be seen when they jump from the plane at 20,000 feet.

Jesus warned that if we "jump" into death without Him, we would perish. Even harsher than the law of gravity is the Law of an infinitely holy and just Creator. Scripture states that sinners are God’s enemy (Romans 5:10) and that "it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:31).

"I believe I will go to heaven because I live by the Golden Rule."

Much of the world knows the Golden Rule simply as "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" (see Luke 6:31). According to this verse, if we can live by this rule and love our neighbor as much as we love ourselves, we fulfill the Law. Ask those who claim to do this if they have ever lied, stolen, hated, or looked with lust. If they have broken any of these Commandments, then they haven’t loved those they have lied to, stolen from, etc. This will show them that they have violated the Golden Rule. They are under God’s wrath (John 3:36), desperately needing the Savior's cleansing blood.

"I have broken the Ten Commandments, but I do good things for people."

Many people do similar things. They may steal from their employer or cheat on their taxes, then give to a charity or spend Thanksgiving helping at a soup kitchen. They think they are balancing the scales: they have done bad, and now they are doing good. However, the Bible reveals that the motive of guilty sinners is one of guilt (see Hebrews 9:14). They are at-tempting to bribe the Judge of the Universe. However, the Judge in this case will not be corrupt-ed. He must punish all sinners. Good works cannot earn mercy; it comes purely by the grace of God. He will dismiss our iniquity only on the grounds of our faith in Jesus.

"I’m as good as any Christian!"

A Christian, by himself, isn’t good. Jesus said that only God is good. The only "goodness," or righteousness, that the believer has comes from Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21; Philippians 3:9). The Bible tells us that, without Christ, man is corrupt and filthy; "there is none that does good, no, not one" (Psalm 14:3). See also Romans 3:9 footnote.

"I’m doing fine. I don’t need God."

Many people feel this way because of the modern gospel message. It says that Jesus will help their marriage, remove their drug problem, fill the emptiness in their heart, give them peace and joy, etc. In doing so, it restricts the gospel’s field of influence. If the message of the cross is for people who have bad marriages, are lonely, and have problems, those who are happy won’t see their need for the Savior.

In truth, the forgiveness of God in Jesus Christ if for people with bad marriages and people with good marriages. It is for the happy and the sad. It is for people with problems and for those without problems. It is for those who are miserable in their sins, and for those who are enjoying the pleasures of sin for a season. Those who think they are doing fine need to be confronted with a holy Law that they have violated a multitude of times. Then they will see themselves through the eyes of the Judge of the Universe and will flee to the Savior. See also Luke 4:18 footnote.

"I used to be a liar and a thief, but that was years ago. Now I try to be a good person."

Time doesn’t forgive sin. If a man commits murder on Monday, but on Tuesday he is kind to others, he is still a murderer. If a man lies and steals, unless he comes to the Savior, his sins remain with him until he stands before God in judgment.