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Kill Self-Righteousness With “Just As I Am”

Self-Righteousness Just As I Am 2.0

It’s deadly.  It’s subtle.  And it’s in all of us.

Self-righteousness means thinking there’s something in us which deserves God’s mercy, something in us which earns His grace.

We would never state it quite so bluntly.  In fact, we don’t usually say it at all.

But in our hearts we’re thinking —

  • God owes me, because I go to church.
  • I deserve an answer to my prayer, because I read the Bible.
  • God should help me, because of all I’ve suffered.
  • God will hear me, because my doctrine is biblical.
  • God should love me, because I’m better than others.

What’s Wrong With These Statements?

What’s wrong is that, because of my sin, there is nothing in me which deserves God’s mercy.  In myself, all I deserve is God’s judgment forever (Psa 130:3).

So how can I receive mercy?  It’s not because of anything in me.  It’s because of someone else — Jesus Christ.

It’s because Jesus paid for sin’s guilt on the Cross, and lived a life of perfect righteousness.  And when I look to Him by faith, all my guilt is forgiven by His death, and all my sin is covered by His righteousness (Rom 3:25; 2Cor 5:21; Eph 2:8-9).

But if I think there’s something in me which deserves God’s mercy, then I’m trusting in myself, and not in Jesus.  Which means I won’t receive God’s mercy.

That’s why we must kill self-righteousness.

Just As I Am

The song “Just As I Am” can help you kill self-righteousness.

The point of the song is that the only way I can ever come to God is “just as I am” — recognizing that I am a sinner in need of Jesus’ blood to cleanse me and Jesus’ righteousness to clothe me.

And when we come to God in this way, trusting only in Jesus’ blood and righteousness, then God —

  • forgives us (1 John 1:9)
  • clothes us in Jesus’ perfect righteousness (Phil 3:9)
  • runs to us (Luk 15:20)
  • loves us (1 John 3:1)
  • adopts us (Eph 1:5)
  • changes us (Eph 2:4-5)
  • satisfies us (John 6:35)
  • frees us (John 8:36)
  • guides us (Psa 139:23-24)
  • provides for us (Phil 4:19)
  • strengthens us (Phil 4:13)
  • assures us (Rom 8:15-16)

So kill any lingering self-righteousness by praying this song “Just As I Am.”

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOnBFGAevks

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11 Responses

  1. Paul Walton says:

    “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.” – Gal. 6: 1-3

    Self-righteousness kills. When we see our own virtue we have a heightened sense of others failings. This contrast, my superiority mixed with your inferiority, leads the superior one to get angry with the inferior. It was the self-righteous who crucified Christ, not those who were meek of heart.

    I found it interesting when reading about the older brother in the Boston bombings who said in a interview at some earlier point, “Americans had lost their morals, that they were weak morally.” At some point he gave up alcohol because the Koran taught that Muslim’s shouldn’t drink. He viewed himself and his faith superior to those who were not Muslim.

    Also the Koran teaches killing infidels is not considered a sin or immoral in fact, the Koran says that the Muslim should not view it as if they killed that person but as if Allah did. To us the killings were a senseless act, but to him it was a holy act, he saw himself as superior to those whom he killed, somewhat like stepping on a ant.

    If anyone had the right to view himself as superior to others it would have been Christ Jesus, if anyone had the right to look down his nose at others it was Christ, and yet he gave himself up for us who are weak.

    Even reading what Paul wrote in Galatians was an 180 degree view of his convictions prior to his own conversion, he saw himself as doing God’s work, the killing and imprisoning of the followers of Christ.

    Self-righteousness kills.

    • lorrainekashdan says:

      I find this reply challenging because isn’t religious indignation different from self-righteousness? Of course the Muslim thinks his religion is right or he wouldn’t be in it, but that’s not the same as saying he is righteous. In fact, the judgement you just made of him sounded like self-righteousness. Surely an article about self-righteousness can only serve to make us look inward reluctantly rather then immediately thinking up an example of someone else who fits the description!

      On a similar point, I wonder where the distinction between self-righteousness and religious indignation ends? I ask this question because I’ve felt the need to take a stand on permissive sexual attitudes in my church lately because I felt deeply that they were unscriptural (people living together not married on the worship team etc), but I really struggled with this because the grace message was so strong and I just couldn’t work out where I was being self-righteous (if any). My heart feels broken over this subject.

      I wonder if Steve would pick this up as another thread? I.e. what happens when you feel the need to call out sin or to stop worshipping somewhere where there is an unhelpful tolerance level toward immorality but where the grace message is strong? The reason being is that grace is the best and only message for our ministry…but just how far does grace go?

      • Steve Fuller says:

        You raise another crucial question, Lorraine. So how can we tell when our righteous indignation about sexual permissiveness (for example) is becoming self-righteousness?

        Here’s some questions that come to mind —
        Am I feeling superior toward others?
        Am I weeping over their sin?
        Is my concern more with how they are dishonoring God, or with how they are hurting me or my church?

        And you ask how far grace goes? Jesus spoke serious warnings to those who pursued sin (Mark 9:47-48, for example). But he offered hope to the adulterous woman at the well.

        So my conclusion is that God’s grace doesn’t condone sin — it welcomes and transforms sinners. It has open arms to anyone who is repenting of their sin, but it speaks strong warning to anyone who stubbornly holds onto their sin.

        I hope that helps some.

        Steve

      • Paul Walton says:

        Lorraine,

        The reason I quoted Gal. 6:1-3 is because what we are suppose to do when we see someone caught in a transgression (sin) is to go to them in love and concern, not judge them in contempt.

        The young man who set off a bomb in a crowd was passing judgement, he thought that killing infidels was his mission, instead of reaching out in concern for those he thought were in moral decline.

        We are called to make righteous judgements against evil, when someone hurts innocent people we can certainly call it evil. If I were to see my neighbor hitting his wife, it’s not judging him per say to get in between them and stop the violence. That dear lady is love, loving our neighbor sometimes means stopping evil from destroying someone’s life.

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Paul. It’s always good to hear from you!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Steve,
    This post wouldn’t have come at a better time than now,especially when my christian life is facing some serious challenges.I’m so greatful.
    But then,i really would need to know much on “coming to God just as i am” and how how to so.How do i know that my actions aren’t from self righteousness?

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Hi Anonymous,

      I am glad this post was timely. And you raise a good question. What helps me discern self-righteousness is to pray and ask God to show it to me when it’s there, and to see what I am really relying on to make me acceptable to God. Is it anything in me, or is it Christ alone?

      I hope that helps. And may the Lord richly bless you,

      Steve Fuller

  3. Teresa Holcomb says:

    I am like Anonymous. I am just turning back to God, I am with sin and wretched. I want god to know my heart and that with all my soul, I need him in my life. I’m 53 yrs old. I desire the kind of peace and joy that I’m told can only be found in loving Jesus. I ask God to help me to make the right choices and show me how to live my life. I was going to ask the same question, it has been asked and thank you for your answer.

  4. Jay says:

    This is a point I’m struggling to grasp –

    You’ve said that God wants us come to him Just As We Are, relying entirely on the power of Jesus’ blood, yet God welcomes only repentant sinners, not someone who would continue in sin.

    By continuing in sin, we implicitly tell God that we don’t want him to save us.

    Yet, if we come to God, putting away our sinful ways, we have already helped ourselves and are not relying on the saving blood.

    Where is the middle ground?

    Great post, really drives the point. I hope you can help me out with my question.

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Great question, Jay.

      I see three ways we can try to come to God.

      One is to come to him to get forgiven, but not wanting to stop the sin.

      That is not right, because I am not trusting his Word which says I will have more joy in him than in the sin.

      Another is to come to him to get forgiven, but thinking I must stop the sin before I can be forgiven.

      That is not right, because I cannot stop the sin without first coming to him and receiving his heart-changing power.

      The third is to come to him wanting him to free me from this sin, and trusting that he will forgive, change, and satisfy me.

      That’s different from the first approach, because I am not willfully continuing in the sin. I am wanting to be freed from this sin, and seeking this freedom in Christ.

      It’s also different from the second approach, because I am not trying to overcome the sin in my own power; I am coming to Christ and trusting His power to use His Word and prayer to change my heart and satisfy me in himself.

      Does that help?

      And I am so glad you found this post encouraging.

      In Christ,

      Steve Fuller

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