In Romans 1, the apostle Paul calls out the “garden-variety sinners.” These are not religious people. These are not church people. These are basically pagan people that worship other gods. He says that they, just like everyone else, fall short. Most people will generally admit they’re a sinner, with the caveat that they aren’t as bad as some other people whose sins are worse.
In Romans 2, Paul deals specifically with self-righteous people, telling them that they are sinners as well. The hardest people to reach are self-righteous people because at least a sinner will generally admit they’re a sinner, but a self-righteous person will say, “I’m good. You don’t need to preach that to me.”
Let’s look at some of the traits of a self-righteous person.
- Self-righteous people do not understand how bad their sin really is. Your sin always looks worse on someone else, but the reason you recognize it so quickly is because it’s your sin. It doesn’t seem to look as bad on you however, because you justify it in your mind.
- The self-righteous person is blind to their own condition. They see it everywhere else except in their own life. These are the people that are so quick to criticize.
- The self-righteous person somehow thinks that God is OK with their sin. They think that after “getting away with it” for a period of time, God must be overlooking it because He is fine with it. Not so.
- The self-righteous person is judgmental and harsh with others. As Kent Hughes said, “We find it so easy to turn a microscope on another person’s sin while we look at ours through the wrong end of a telescope.”
- As Christians we are righteous, not because of what we do, but because of what Christ did. We’ve been made right with Him through His death on the cross.
- Deep down inside we’re all prewired to know God.
- Those who have never heard the gospel still have the testimony of God’s creation, as well as their own consciences.
Are you acting like a self-righteous person in regard to some sin in your life? Are you overlooking your own transgressions and focusing your attention on the sins of others? Ask God to examine your heart for these things and to reveal to you the areas that you are blind to. Then repent of those areas and ask for God’s help to make a fresh start.