Justifying Self


In the last post we were introduced to a group of religious people called the Pharisees. While He was on earth the Pharisees were Jesus’ harshest critics and opponents. They were a religious group who, “derided him.” That means they sneered at Him and turned their noses up at Christ (see Luke 16:14).

Now the source of their derision was what was in their heart and what they heard.

What they heard that day was Jesus teach a lesson involving an, “unjust steward” followed by these words, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” (Luke 16:1-13). In other words, you cannot serve God and money.

That’s what irritated the Pharisees. You see they, “were covetous” and Jesus’ teaching stepped on their toes. Thus, “they derided him.”

Jesus Christ however, was not intimidated by His covetous critics. He addressed them and it’s His words to them I want to listen to.

To begin with, He told them they were people who, “justify yourselves before men” (Luke 16:15). In other words, they declared themselves to be righteous before others. And to those around them, the Pharisees even appeared to be righteous (see Matt. 23:28).

Now let’s be honest, are we any different than the Pharisees? Aren’t we all experts at justifying our actions and attitudes and don’t we always put our best foot forward in front of others?

Think about the various ways we go about justifying ourselves.

It begins by comparison. We weigh our actions against the actions of others around us. It sounds something like this, “Ok, I did do _____ but so-and-so did ______.” Why do we all make statements like that? It’s because we’re attempting to justify our wrong deed by convincing ourselves and others that it could be worse. And that may be true. However, I think it’s time we all stop comparing ourselves with those around us and begin comparing ourselves to God Who is gloriously holy and ask ourselves how we measure up against that comparison (Exodus 15:11).

We not only are experts at comparing ourselves with others, we also are very good at blaming others for our sins. This includes blaming our surroundings, circumstances, and upbringing. This is not some new clever trick either. It’s the oldest trick in history. Adam and Eve attempted to shift the blame for their sins (Genesis 3). However, God held each one of them responsible for their own actions and holds each one us responsible for our actions as well.

The third method of self-justification is what I call weighing. What we do is we place both our good and bad deeds on a scale, and most of us feel pretty good that the good outweighs the bad. Hmmm…maybe another topic for another day.

At this point all I can say is Jesus Christ was right. We are such experts at justifying ourselves. And this is a serious matter because God’s Word plainly states, “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10). The wonderful news is that through Christ every single one of us can be justified. That truth is wonderfully declared in the rest of Romans chapter three.

If you have any questions regarding these spiritual matters, please do not hesitate to contact us. We would be glad to help you discover the answers to your questions.