Self Righteousness




Self-righteousness (also called sanctimoniousness, sententiousness, and holier-than-thou attitudes) is a feeling or display of (usually smug) moral superiority derived from a sense that one’s beliefs, actions, or affiliations are of greater virtue than those of the average person. Self-righteous individuals are often intolerant of the opinions and behaviors of others.


The dictionary definition of self-righteousness is “confidence in one’s own righteousness, especially when smugly moralistic and intolerant of the opinions and behavior of others.”

Biblically speaking, self-righteousness, which is related to legalism, is the idea that we can somehow generate within ourselves a righteousness that will be acceptable to God (Romans 3:10). Although any serious Christian would recognize the error of this thought, because of our sin nature, it is a constant temptation to all of us to believe we are, or can be, righteous in and of ourselves. In the New Testament, Jesus and the apostle Paul came down particularly hard on those who attempted to live self-righteously. Read More…

Often when I make a decision, particularly decisions such as choosing not to participate in popular activities such as Yoga or Tai-Chi, I am accused of being ‘self righteous.’

And sometimes I am. For which I humbly beg forgiveness both from those I offend and my Lord. The gospel of Mark records that even Jesus did not consider himself ‘good.’ He does not hesitate to point out that ‘no one is good except God alone.

As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.” (Luke 18:19)

It came, therefore, as a surprise to me one day when I first discovered this exhortation in the Book of Ecclesiastes:

“Be not righteous over much; neither make thyself over wise: why shouldest thou destroy thyself?” (Ecclesiastes 7:16)

I puzzled over this for a long time. Because in 1 Peter 1:14-16 it is also written:

“As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.”

Here is a link to an article that helped me understand this seeming dichotomy:

Over Righteousness by Arthur W. Pink (1886-1952)


“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do—do it all for the glory of God!” 1 Corinthians 10:31

Glorifying God, not self-righteous glorification of ourselves, is what the Christian’s life is ultimately, all about!