6 Jehovah Tsidkenu, The Righteousness of Man, Part 2

The Pharisees Question Jesus

The Pharisees Question Jesus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Righteousness of Man

Galatians 6:3(New Living Translation)

3 If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important.

(NIV) If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves.

Under the Law of Moses, man had no Savior. There was no atoning blood available to him. If he did right, he was righteous. Human effort produced the righteousness of man. When Christ came, the Jews could not rid themselves of the doctrine of justification through works. They could not accept the doctrine of righteousness by faith in Christ. In present times, many fail to take hold of righteousness that does not come from human effort. When we depend on our own efforts, we open ourselves to boast of our own self righteousness. Under the guise of man’s righteousness, atrocities have been committed that cause us to shudder in the face of such inhumane treatment of our fellow man. The Hitlers of history have believed they were operating under righteous fervor. A self righteous man will go to any length to force his ideas of right on others.

Righteousness that is self imposed can have a result that denigrates mankind as a whole and destroys the capacity to see the benefits of the righteousness of God. Self righteousness blinds a man to their inability to be obedient wholeheartedly to the Law of Moses. The person who sees righteousness as coming solely from his own effort fails to see that the law is the righteousness of God defined in terms of human understanding.

1. What does Proverbs 30:12 say about those who are pure in their own eyes (self righteous)?

So what is righteousness? Righteousness is the state of moral perfection required by God to enter heaven. That is a far cry from the definition of self righteousness. “Confident of one’s own righteousness, especially when smugly moralistic and intolerant of the opinions and behavior of others,” or as seen in the Bible, legalism…the idea that we can work a righteousness in our own effort that will be acceptable to God.

2. What does Romans 3:10 say about the righteousness of mankind?

At one point in time or another, each of us think that we can be righteous in and of ourselves. Jesus spent a lot of time in his ministry teaching that righteousness in our own strength is worthless. We see it in Luke 18:9-14 in the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector. The Pharisee came to the temple to pray, trusting that he had kept the law and by so doing was righteous thus anyone else was contemptible. The tax collector was humble and on his knees with grief because he knew there was nothing about him or his life that would cause God to look upon him in favor. Jesus spent considerable time teaching his disciples the dangers of self righteousness.

3. According to John 15:5 what did Jesus say about our efforts without him?

How can we tell if we are afflicted with the spiritual disease of self righteousness?

A. When we are adamantly sure that we are right, we have nothing else to learn. When we are sure that we have kept the law, we have no need for the righteousness of Christ. I am innocent of wrong doing. We see this is the story of the rich young ruler, and in Job. Job was convinced that he was righteous and became quite angry when it was suggested that he was not.

Read Proverbs 12:1; Proverbs 19:20; Proverbs 18:2 (a) What does Proverbs teach about those who refuse to be corrected because they are sure that their own way is correct? (b) What is the end result of listening to advice and accepting instruction? (c) What does a fool delight in?

B. Read Matthew 6:1-2, 5, 16; 7:1-5; John 8:3-9; II Corinthians 10:12

From these Scriptures list five attitudes that are examples of being self-righteous.

4. Read Job 27:6  What happens to our conscience when we are convinced that we are right? When we are in that frame of mind, we become stubborn in our resistance to the word of God and our hearts become hard and impenetrable. We cannot see our own sin, yet the sin of others is quite apparent and it is our job to point out this lack to them.

Therefore, another sign of self righteousness is seen when we look with contempt on others who are not as enlightened as we are. It may be that we are following the mandates set out by God in His holy word, but our self righteous attitude towards those who do not live up to our standards becomes evident when we correct others, when we judge them or complain about them to others. Any good we may have done is negated by our self-righteous attitude.

5. What would be a better way to react when we see sin in others? Read John 8:11

We who condemn are no better than the one we accuse. Jesus is the only One who did not have sin. He had the right to judge, yet He showed mercy. He did not condemn the woman caught in adultery but gave her some good advice. “Sin no more.”

6. When we are not humble but instead take great pride in being obedient we are guilty of self-righteousness. How should we practice righteousness? Read Matthew 6:1-6

This was a sin of the Pharisees. They took great pride in fasting and being obedient to the letter of the law. They wanted others to see them pray, give to the poor, or be present in the synagogue. They relished the praise of their neighbors and friends. When we make sure that others know we have daily devotions, give offerings to the poor, fast during Lent, we are guilty of self righteousness. In reality, our giving should be in secret and without any hope of a return. Our fasting should be without any outward sign that we are fasting. Jesus tells us to do our acts of kindness in secret, to pray in the closet where we cannot be seen of others. We are to give, pray, and live in a way that brings glory to God and not to ourselves

Is the focus of our conversation, thought life,prayer life, and giving concentrated on the pronouns “I,” “me,” “mine,” and “my.” Are we like Job, who said in Job 29:14 14 I put on righteousness as my clothing; justice was my robe and my turban?

He claims to have put on his own robe of righteousness. He is righteous in his own evaluation of self. We become complacent when we believe we are clothed in our own righteousness. We have no need to depend on God, to go to him for forgiveness because we are all ready righteous in our own sight. We are told to be aware of the needs of others and to take action. Because of our attitude however, we see no need to take action because we are already righteous and have no need to serve those less righteous that we are. When we do take action, our motives are not pure. Everything we do is colored by our need to be seen and praised by others.

Are we truly grateful to be part of God’s plan of salvation for us?

7. Read Job 35:7  what would be your answer to the question Elihu posed for Job? Are we grateful to be part of His family and church? Do we truly understand that God does not need us to carry out His plan of redemption? Or do we think that God cannot survive without our help. Do we think that we are doing a service for God? Are we constantly thinking about what we have given up to be in God’s service? When we truly understand that God does not need us, but we need Him, we can give God the glory for everything in our lives.

Do I feel compassion, empathy, for others? Do I feel their pain? When we have no compassion for another, we are quick to judge them, thinking that we would never act that way. I just don’t understand why they did that? We are sometimes so righteous in our own sight that we cannot understand the weakness of others.

Isaiah 65:1-5

The key verse here is 5. 1-4 is God’s statement about the sins of the Judeans. Verse 5 exposes the holier than thou attitude they had toward others.

8. Write verse 5. I have often thought how grateful I am that my eternal existence is in the hands of a merciful, compassionate God and not in the hands of my fellow man. I cannot see into the heart of another. I cannot see a repentant heart. I know that I am not who I was yesterday. Only God knows and understands what goes on in the darkest parts of our soul. Only God understands the root of our problems and He is the only one who can lead me to repentance with love and mercy. How true is the adage, I cannot understand another unless I have walked in his moccasins. His path is different from mine and his heart is a mystery to me. I have no right to judge for I am in the same boat.

9. Would I rather wallow in self pity than to ask God for forgiveness when I have sinned? Cain is a good example of this. Nowhere do we hear him ask for forgiveness, instead what his complaint is? Read Genesis 4:13

He showed no signs of changing or repentance. He did not feel sorry for his sin, for the pain he caused his parents, or for robbing Abel of his life. When he is punished his lament is self pity. His only sorrow is living with his punishment

10. Do I accept the fact that I have sinned or do I try to justify what I have done? Do I have a basket of excuses from which to draw? When we are self righteous, it is difficult to admit there is sin in our life. Job searched his own heart but could find no sin that could have caused the trials he was going through. Read Job 32:1-2 (a) why didElihu become angry with Job? Since he could find no sin in his own heart, he blamed God. He even wanted to present his case to decide who was right, him or God. Job 23; Job 40:8 ; Luke 16:15 (b) What did God ask Job? (c) What does God say about those who justify themselves before men?

11. Read Isaiah 46:12; What does this verse say about those who are far from the righteousness of God?

12. Read Isaiah 64:6; What does this verse say about our purity and righteousness?

13, Revelation 3:17-18 What is the counsel of God?

After reading the last group of Scriptures, answer the following question. Does a self righteous person see his sin for what it is? They cannot see the true character of their lives. Their motives in giving, praying, sacrificing, and good deeds are poisoned by their self-righteousness.

Is self-righteousness sometimes seen as righteousness? Read II Samuel 15:1-6; Absalom went to a great deal of trouble to present himself to the people as one who cared about them and one who would rule over them with justice. David was far wiser and had more understanding of the problems the people endured than Absalom. David had lived the life of the commoner while Absalom had been raised as the privileged son of King David. Absalom was motivated not by the problems of the people but by his own ambitions. He stole the hearts of the people by appearing to be righteous.

14. Read Matthew 23:25-28 When Jesus called the Pharisees hypocrites, what did He mean?

15. Read II Timothy 3:1-5 List the characteristics of people during the last days.

We can see this in our time. Many do seem to be Godly on the outside. They serve in the church, do good deeds, and they may even call themselves Christians, but in reality they do not give God the glory for anything. Their focus is on self.

God warned the Israelites about self-righteousness in Deuteronomy 9:4. He warns them not to take credit for dispossessing the inhabitants of the Promised Land. It was not the righteousness of the Israelites that prompted God to act, but because of the wickedness of those who lived there. The Bible has many stories that exemplify the folly of self-righteousness.

We read in Matthew 23:27-28 where Jesus says the Pharisees outwardly appeared righteous, but inside they were full of hypocrisy and sin. We see the same thought exemplified by Saul (I Samuel 15:13 ; the young man who asked what he must do to be saved(Matthew 19:20), the lawyer who tried to trip Jesus up with his questions(Luke 10:25,) The Israelites(Romans 10:3), and the church at Laodicea)(Revelation 3:17)

16. After having gone through this study, what conclusions do you reach about the righteousness of man? However there is hope!

17. Read Philippians 3:7-10. Where can we get righteousness?

Righteousness is available through faith in El Tsidkenu, the LORD our Righteousness, Jesus Christ. And that will be the subject of the next lesson.



  1. April 10, 2012 at 11:17 am

    […] 6 Jehovah Tsidkenu, The Righteousness of Man (donnabarton.wordpress.com) […]

  2. April 19, 2012 at 8:00 am

    […] 6 Jehovah Tsidkenu, The Righteousness of Man (donnabarton.wordpress.com) […]

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