After “functionally atheist,” what is likely the next most critical problem for Christians? How about self-righteousness? There are three main problems, dire threats, having to do with self-righteousness.
One, self-righteousness is a determination of the corruption in our human nature; pride makes us self-righteous.
Two, we are greedy because we have an intense sense that we are dying (like a drowning person), therefore we are grabbing for everything and anything we think will make a life for us, yet we know that is wrong; so we are always looking for a way to justify our greed so we can maintain our ego.
Three, if we are determined to justify ourselves we are necessarily working against the justification that Christ provided for us and works in us. Here is the scenario that all corrupt human nature asserts:
“Are you self-righteous?”
“No, I’m not self-righteous.”
“How do you know?”
“Because I’m not. I know that other people ARE self-righteous, which is terrible, which is why I am careful to never be self-righteous.”
“Isn’t that what other people tell themselves?”
“No. Like I said, I’m not self-righteous like other people.”
“What about taking the log out of our own eye so we can see clearly to take the speck out of the other person’s eye?”
“I did that already; that’s how I know that I am clearly seeing what is wrong with everyone else.”
One of the many purposes of the law is to “stop every mouth.” Immersion in the Word is like being under water; hard, even impossible to talk. In that same water we are regenerated by God’s Word and Spirit. Our regenerate soul clings to the truth of God’s work to justify us; both in the life of Christ in our place and by the work of Christ and His Spirit in our life. There is rest, peace, and joy in the work of Christ for us, as Jesus said, “This is the work of God, that you are honest about dependence on His Son.”