- “The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, even as this publican.” Luke 18:11. “Jesus said unto them, if ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, we see; therefore your sin remaineth”. John 9:41.
Self-righteousness has stopped millions of people from drawing near to Jesus all over the world to learn of him, to submit to his rulership. Instead, they are satisfied with their religious attainment. The prayer of the Pharisee to him shows that he needed nothing again to add to his standard of religious practice. He saw his holiness incomparable with that of the publican. He saw his holiness far exceedingly above that of the publican. He refused to open his eyes to the scriptures: “But we are all as unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” Isaiah 64:6.
How many people always wake up in the morning to remember that self-righteousness does rob people of rewards from God? How many people always fix it firmly in their hearts that self-righteousness can bring one low and subject one to shame and ridicule? The Pharisee received no reward despite his well-arranged, beautifully polished and systematically presented prayers before God. In all he scored zero before God.
2. Sometimes we come across some people that polish their prayers so wonderfully with advanced vocabularies, with invented modern phrases making you feel that you are no longer qualified to utter even one word in prayers. No, it is not so. There is someone who is always pouring his supplications into our own supplications. That is the Holy Spirit. So, self-righeousness should not be allowed in our prayers. Let us pray always while the Holy Spirit intercedes: “…but the Spirit itself (Himself) maketh intercessions for us with groaning which cannot be uttered.” Rom. 8:26.
Truly fasting helps to subject the body to the Spirit and it is useful for those that seek the face of the Lord. The number of days for fasting should not be measured for righteousness or else it will turn to self-righteousness. Some also fast regularly and as such look down on those who do not fast regularly: “I fast twice in the week” Lk. 18:12.
There are some who take delight in telling all the people that come across their way that they are fasting to prove their righteousness. That becomes self-righteousness. In that, people are praising you here and there. The Pharisees were so strict about fasting so much so that they accused Jesus’ disciples of not fasting as they did (Mk. 2:18). Christ then told them they were still with the bridegroom (Mk. 2:19).
Jesus did not announce his fasting to anyone. He was alone in the wilderness fasting for forty days and forty nights (Matt. 4:2). There he overcame all the temptations the devil brought before him.
3 . Today, there are traces of spiritual pride here and there. People no longer subject themselves to the teachings of Christ but carve out their doctrines and rules and regulations. So, one group of worshippers looks at their style of worship and looks down on the other group of worshippers.
One group feels it is superior to the other and the other one is quite inferior. Some boast of their General Overseers and General Superintendents, some of their Senior Apostles and others of their Bishops and Archbishops. Some boast of their buildings and edifices, and some of their equipment and their programmes, some of their congregations being the largest, some boast of their prophetic utterances and some of miracles. Some boast of their church being the oldest in the world. No one boast of Christ again. No one preaches repentance again. No one remembers the Kingdom of God is at hand anymore.
The Spiritual pride has reached a height that people can no longer subject themselves to the word of God. Spiritual pride has given room for carnality to expand everywhere: Spiritual pride is of flesh and it is carnal and cannot therefore submit to God: “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” Rom. 8:6-7.
The Pharisees exhibited spiritual pride and claimed they knew everything and need no correction or guide from Christ: “Jesus said unto them, if ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, we see; therefore your sin remaineth.” John 9:41.
4 . Self-righteousness and spiritual pride have pulled many down. They rebel against God and oppose the church, refusing the way of salvation. They boast of how they brought Christianity to the land and how they served in the building committee in the building of the church and in the mission house. They have gone back to their idols because they thought their righteous deeds would be enough for them to reach heaven.
Some have decided to listen to the preachers who would not talk of their sins: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but after their own lusts, shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears. And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” II Tim. 4:3-4. We should overcome self-righteousness by not thinking too highly of our self but esteeming others better than our self. “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves” Phil. 2:3.
The way of destroying self-righteousness is to count all we have achieved as refuse and still press towards the mark. “And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.” Phil. 3:9. “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forth unto those things which are before. I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Phil. 3:13-14.
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