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Bible verses about Self Righteous Attitude
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Isaiah 65:1-5  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Our concern is His holier-than-you accusation. In this case, God is saying that Israel was rejecting Him, as if they were somehow better than He was and did not need the correction He had for them. Within a Christian assembly, a negative exclusivity can form in an individual and create hazards in our attitudes about ourselves and others, laying a spiritual minefield.

This attitude requires understanding. We must be careful. It causes some among us to be aloof within the group to their own hurt or to withdraw themselves and become independent. It infected the Jews of Jesus' day—in fact, the origin of the word "Pharisee" is vague, but most commentators believe it means "separatists." It affected the church, too, in the days of the apostles.

Matthew 9:10-11 records an incident in which a form of it confronted Jesus:

And so it was, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, "Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?"

Jesus' response pointedly reveals the error in their thinking and conduct.

Galatians 2:11-13 exposes its existence in the early church:

But when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy.

This is a possible downside of the true church's exclusivity. It can produce a self-righteous, I'm-better-than-you hypocrisy if we forget or overlook the fact that it was God's work and not ours that provides our calling and spirituality. Even today, there are groups claiming to be the exclusive true church.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Is There a True Church?


 

Ezekiel 9:7-8  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Effective sighing and crying before God does not imply an "I told you so," self-righteous attitude. Lot, Peter writes, was oppressed by what he witnessed around him; he wrestled with it. There is no indication at all that he self-righteously gloated at the cities' destruction.

What about Ezekiel? Understandably stunned by the destruction that he witnessed in the visions, he cried out to God, asking Him how far the judgment would go (Ezekiel 9:8; 11:13). Far from self-righteous gloating, this forward-looking prophet expressed his concern over the welfare of his countrymen. His was not a self-righteous response to the destruction that he saw coming.

Because Ezekiel asked, we know. God tells us that He does indeed spare and protect His people (see Ezekiel 11:14-21). We know that God will not destroy all Israel, but He will rescue a remnant out of which He will build a better world for our children's children. It will be a world where, as Amos 5:24 foretells, "justice [will] run down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream." In that world, we will no longer need to cry and sigh over abominations.

But that will be then, and now is now. In this present evil world, let us sigh and cry over Israel's sins, praying that we use God's Word to understand exactly what those sins are. Let us remain awake and alert to what is happening around us, fully understanding what God considers to be sinful, but not participating at all in those sins. And let us not gloat in self-righteous glee in the wholesale death and destruction that we know will come, but rather pray for God's mercy and grace on all.

The days are becoming very evil, and the angel with the inkhorn might just be roaming around here now. If we do these things, he might not pass us by.

Charles Whitaker
The Torment of the Godly (Part Two)


 

Revelation 2:4  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Note that each of these congregations—those in Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea—was located in a Gentile city, and in all probability, each congregation's membership was primarily Gentile. It is quite likely that in each congregation the Jews were a minority.

Recall that the Romans ravaged Jerusalem in AD 70, and its Christians had to flee to Pella to save their lives. It is highly probable that none of these congregations had any communication with any survivor of the first congregation in Jerusalem. All of the apostles except John were dead, and he had been banished to Patmos. This circumstance was far different from the one in which the church was founded.

Were these Gentile congregations still part of the true church? Were they free of flaws and perfect in their character, attitudes, and doctrines? Would such a negative judgment eliminate them from being a true assembly?

Consider these further factors: Revelation 2:4 commends the congregation in Ephesus for doctrinal vigilance but castigates it for leaving its first love. Revelation 2:9-11 shows Christ commending Smyrna for being spiritually rich, but He also admonishes them to overcome. Despite His commendation, they are not a finished product.

Revelation 2:13-15 praises those in Pergamos for not denying their faith, but its members are doctrinally divided, and they permit heresy to continue. Revelation 2:19-20 presents Thyatira as growing in good works, but its members tolerate heresy and are guilty of sexual immorality.

Revelation 3:1, 4 exposes Sardis as spiritually dead, though it contains a few who remain undefiled, indicating that its members have virtually lost their faith and are capable only of dead works. Revelation 3:8, 11-12 reports that those in Philadelphia are faithfully enduring, but Christ admonishes them to hold fast and overcome. Finally, Revelation 3:15, 19 judges Laodicea as spiritually bankrupt and gives it no commendation at all. The congregation is strongly advised to be zealous and repent.

What does a composite picture of these congregations reveal?

1. All seven of them are admonished to repent, hold fast, or remain faithful.

2. Only two of them, Smyrna and Philadelphia, receive strong commendations and no listing of their sins and other shortcomings.

3. Two of them, Pergamos and Thyatira, receive a lesser commendation and fairly strong rebukes for sexual immorality and allowing deceivers into the congregation.

4. Two of them, Sardis and Laodicea, receive strong rebukes and no commendations.

In terms of a true church in a single corporate body, what do we see? Only sixty years or so following Christ's resurrection, we have a mixed bag as regards overall stability and righteousness.

Even so, is any one of them not a true congregation, an assembly of truly called-out ones? Does Christ in any way say that even one of them was no longer part of His church, His body of people? Not in the least. There are, however, warnings that, if they did not repent, some within their fellowship might not be within the Body of Christ in the future. Two things are sure:

1. Some of these congregations are clearly spiritually better than the others.

2. Some of them are decidedly awful, even though, using carnal judgment, they may outwardly appear good.

Since Revelation is an end-time book, the overview given in Revelation 2 and 3 is especially significant at this time. It is forecasting what things will be like just before Christ returns, and He uses these first-century congregations to illustrate His forecast for our time.

Remember that God is judging us individually within each group. An attitude that we should not allow to grow in us is to think that we are the only ones who retain a true-church identity. The other side of that same concept is that, even if we agree that others are still part of the true church, we are still better than they are—indeed, everybody else is Laodicean by comparison.

This unmistakably holier-than-you attitude is extremely destructive to true brotherhood and proper fellowship and unity. Luke 18:9-14 records this teaching of Christ concerning self-righteousness and its effects on these matters. Those who elevate themselves in their judgment of themselves as compared to their fellow members bring on themselves this condemnation. God does not justify them when they make this kind of judgment.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Is There a True Church?


 

 




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