Self-Righteousness: A Pillar of Unbelief

Often the charge is levied at religious people (in America it’s Christians since it is, on the surface, the prevalent faith) that they are self-righteous prigs who like nothing better than to impose their morality on everyone else and sapping the “fun” of out of everything. Sometimes the accusation is justified albeit for the wrong reasons.

It’s somewhat comical to watch religious people lob this label on one another. Among Christians much of this brotherly bickering could be curtailed with a cursory look at Romans 14, but I digress.

Currently reading Gene Edward Veith’s, “Loving God with All Your Mind” and are finding it to be a stimulating read.

In one of the chapters he talks about self-righteousness and the way he explains it shed some light on the fact that this disease is not limited to religious folk.

Veith writes,

The most dangerous illusion of them all is self-righteousness. This is the true barrier to Jesus Christ. All rejection of God’s grace takes this form. Those who refuse the free forgiveness of God through Christ do so because they do not see themselves as needing that forgiveness. They do no admit that they are sinners. They deny that they are desperately lost.

God’s Law in its purity works not only to shape society and to show us how we are to live, but also reveals our sinfulness and awakens in us our need of a Savior (Romans 7, Galatians 3).

And yet we try to convince ourselves, even in the midst of our sins, that we are basically good, in fact better than most people. We justify ourselves, and in our complacency and self-sufficient pride we shut out the grace of God.

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Mike Libecki and an old RAF officer

Mike Libecki is a rock climber who according to this story, “is on a one-man quest to conquer remote lands untouched by humans.”

Caught the piece on Nightline a few minutes ago and was fascinated by the incredible footage Mr. Libecki filmed as he climbs.

From the report,

He is drawn to extreme climbing not only as a way of discovering the unknown but also for the intensity of living in the moment and being totally consumed by the wilderness around him. “I’ve explained it as living in the ultimate now,” said Libecki. “Experiencing the ultimate moment of reality, where you’re so involved, you’re so entwined in what you’re doing, it’s so exotic that you’re not thinking in the past or the future. It’s just a ride of ultimate reality.”

After hearing this quote I was reminded of the words an “old, hard-bitten officer” in the Royal Air Force whom CS Lewis encountered after giving a talk. The officer’s words Lewis recorded for posterity in his classic, Mere Christianity,

I’ve no use for all that stuff [theology]. But, mind you, I’m a religious man too. I know there’s a God. I’ve felt Him: out alone in the desert at night: the tremendous mystery. And that’s just why I don’t believe all your neat little dogmas and formulas about Him. To anyone who’s met the real thing they all seem so petty and pedantic and unreal!

Wonder if they truly felt the presence of the God who is there? Wonder if they would concur with the words of the Apostle,

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. Romans 1:20