Relative Righteousness

Have you ever asked someone: “Do you think you are a good person?”

What response to you normally get to such a question?

Most people respond to this question with something like this: “Yes, I think I’m a good person.”

An interesting followup to that question is, “Why do you think you’re a good person?”

The people who say that they are a “good person” often answer the question of why they think they are a good person with a slew of comparisons that come under the heading of “relative righteousness”.

Many say that they do more good than bad. Others say that, compared to most people, their behavior is relatively good. Some will tell you, that even though they don’t do everything right, their intentions are good.

These evaluations come under the heading of “relative righteousness”. In other words, the evaluation of whether they are good or not is based upon how they stand relative to other’s behaviors or intentions. If they can find someone worse than themselves, then they believe that they are good compared to them. This is what I call the evaluation of “resident evil”. If someone around is worse than me, then I am “ok”. 

If they seem to fall in line with most people’s behavior, then they can be called “good”. This I call “running with the pack”. If I stay in line with what people say is acceptable, then I am “ok”.

If they intend to do more good than bad, than that qualifies them to evaluate themselves as “good”. This is what I call the “failure to launch” mentality. My intentions didn’t quite make it into actions but I judge myself according to what is advertised rather than according to what is delivered.

And finally, some say, “Well, I do more good than bad.” This is what I call the “moldy cheese” theory. If I can find more good cheese (behavior) on the block of cheese (my life) then I find rotten, I’m “ok”.

Let me give you a scenario.

Let’s say that you make yourself a milkshake. In that milkshake is the best ice cream, fresh milk – the best ingredients. But, before you mix the milkshake, you drop just a tiny bit of dog poo-poo in it. Not much; just a drop that amounts to the size of an English pea.

Would you drink the milkshake?

It looks good. It smells good, so why not?

How much poo-poo in your milkshake is too much?

Many people mix for God a life that looks good compared to others, but still contains the contamination of sin. How much sin is too much for God to accept?

Relative righteousness is a deception.

Psalm 53:2-3: “God looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there are any who understand, who seek God. Every one of them has turned aside; they have together become corrupt; there is none who does good, No, not one.”

We are not going to be judged in comparison to others or according to our intentions. Our standard of comparison is the perfection of Christ.

Wait a minute! If you use that standard, no one will measure up!

You’re right. So, what is the remedy?

The only remedy is to accept the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ on our behalf. The evidence of accepting His substitutionary death is a changed life. As it was said in the movie, “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome”: “Two men enter – one man leave”. You join in His death and rise to walk in a life that is identified with His. The old man is left behind and the new man walking in the Spirit emerges!

Most people don’t understand the gravity of their sin.

Before you are saved by grace, you stand guilty of putting the Son of God to death through your sin.

Isaiah 53:5: “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.”

It was neither a Roman government nor a group of religious Pharisees and Sadducees that put Jesus to death – it was my sin and your sin. So, until we are saved, we stand guilty of His blood. Since we owe Him a debt, He is the One who decides how that debt is satisfied.

That debt is satisfied only by death to self and new life in Him!

Don’t fall into the folly of relative righteousness. It is a lie. You will not be judged according to what others have done or not done: you will stand before God all alone – UNLESS, you have the Advocate, Jesus Christ standing with you saying, “This one is Mine; bought by the blood of the Lamb!”

Don’t offer to God a “poo-poo” milkshake life – one that looks like a good milkshake compared to other milkshakes but one that is actually contaminated by sin. Let Jesus redeem you by His blood sacrifice!

The blood of Jesus is your greatest fear or your only hope.

The choice is up to you!



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