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11 Characteristics of the Self-Righteous

Self Righteous

Self-righteousness is rampant in our churches. Pews are packed every week with Pharisees, who think they are doing everything right. Scripture paints a woefully different picture. Far from thinking we have arrived, or that we are superior to others, we should see ourselves as needing and depending on the righteousness of Christ. Instead of raising our spiritual noses at those struggling with sin, we should humbly bow before the Savior knowing we too are sinners saved by God’s grace. No, we should not think ourselves self-righteous because we are far from it. Instead we should thank and praise God for sending His Son to cover our transgressions.

Even though we are far from self-righteous, we often think or act as if we are made righteous through our own efforts, not Christ’s. How do those who think themselves self-righteous act? Let me share with you just 11 characteristics of the self-righteous.

11 Characteristics of Those who Think Themselves More Righteous

1. They do not see their walk with God as a community project.

2. They do not work well with others.

3. They consistently believe they are right and know best.

4. They are resistant to change.

5. They do not respond well when reminded they need to change.

6. They do not desire others exhortation or admonition, even getting angry at times.

7. They are not patient with those who mess up, struggle with sin, or have lost their way.

8. They do not deal well with opposition or accusations.

9. They will consistently wonder why God has singled them out for difficulty.

10. They do not see a need to admit or confess their sin.

11. They consistently point out the sin of others with an air of superiority.

Resources

Post adapted from Paul Tripp, Dangerous Calling, 73-74.

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11 comments on “11 Characteristics of the Self-Righteous

  1. Self-righteous…or narcissist? I’m currently reading Scott Peck’s “People of the Lie” and, as I went through your list, I saw many similarities between your list and narcissistic behavior. Peck points out in a later chapter (haven’t got there yet) that many narcissistic people gravitate towards church to improve their public persona. Just a thought.

    • Don,
      I think that is a good observation. Self-righteous people often want the praise of others. They want others to look at them as great. The Pharisees fasting and praying is a great example.

      What is the name of the book? Would you recommend it for the reading list?

      Blessings,
      Casey Lewis

  2. The point about our Christian walk as a community project is interesting and important. It is one of those theological truths that is so difficult to remember and work out. I often rush through life failing to engage in the lives of others and pridefully portraying only my best side. Perhaps this topic could be the subject of a longer post from you. I would be especially interested to see what directly says about it.

    • Dustin,
      Thanks for reading and commenting. I agree that walking in community with others is difficult. I too often fail to engage others I know and at times puff myself up as if I don’t have any sin. As I have been reading Dangerous Calling by Tripp lately, I am reminded of the importance of community and confessing sin, especially for a pastor, since it is easy to seclude yourself.

      Church culture for both the pastor and the congregation needs to work toward creating meaningful community. I will see if I can come up with a post on community in the near future.

      Blessings,
      Casey Lewis

  3. Nice. I wrote something like this a few weeks ago called 5 ways you know you’re in works: http://zusings.com/2013/01/29/5-ways-to-know-that-you-maybe-in-works/

    It’s so important. I feel like works/self-righteousness leaves you feeling apart from God as sin does even though in self-righteousness your are “doing the right things”.The Holy Spirit will make you sin sensitive and self-righteous sensitive.

  4. Wow, what an eye-opener. I am guilty of each one of these characteristics!

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