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Give Up on Your Own Self-Righteousness

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    Give Up on Your Own Self-Righteousness

    by Paul David Tripp

    This post is adapted from New Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel Devotional by Paul David Tripp.

    Two Very Different Approaches to Sin

    Since sin is deeper than bad behavior, trying to do better isn’t a solution. Only grace that changes the heart can rescue us.

    There is a difference between a person in whom disappointment leads to self-reformation and someone in whom grief leads to heartfelt confession. I think that we often confuse the two.

    The first person believes in personal strength and the possibility of self-rescue, while the second has given up on his own righteousness and cries out for the help of another. One gets up in the morning and tells himself that he’ll do better today, but the other starts the day with a plea for grace. One targets a change in behavior, and the other confesses to a wandering heart. One assesses that he has the power for personal change, while the other knows that he needs to be given strength for the battle. One has to hold on to the possibility of personal reformation, but the other has abandoned that hope and therefore runs to God for help.

    Self-reliant personal reformation and the penance that follows is the polar opposite of heartfelt confession with the repentance that follows. People who acknowledge that what they’ve done is wrong and then immediately lay out plans to do better unwittingly deny what the gospel of Jesus Christ says about them, how real change takes place, and where help can be found.

    The Power of True Confession

    What they have omitted or neglected is confession. When you confess your sins to God, you don’t just admit that you have sinned; no, you also confess that you have no power to deliver yourself from the sin you have just confessed. True confession always combines an admission of wrong with a plea for help. The heart then, encouraged by the forgiveness and presence of Jesus, longs to live in a new, better way (repentance).

    A person who manifests a self-reliant recognition of wrong assigns to himself the power to do better and then gives himself to spiritual-looking acts of penance that make him feel good about himself and his potential ability to do better. But while he is acknowledging sin, there is no verticality to what he is doing. By that I mean that there is no Godward confession, no recognition of his desperate need for rescue, and no repentance that is motivated by a heart filled with gratitude for and worship of God.

    It is an “I can save myself” way of dealing with sin, and it is far more prevalent in the church of Jesus Christ than we would think. It never results in lasting change. It never produces a protective and preventative humility of heart. It never stimulates further worship and service of the Savior. It simply does not work. If you had the power to change yourself without God’s help, Jesus wouldn’t have had to come. The whole story of the gospel in Scripture is a story of people who are desperately trapped in sin and have no hope except the rescuing grace of the Redeemer.

    When your sin is revealed today, which of these two pathways will you take?


    Paul David Tripp (DMin, Westminster Theological Seminary) is a pastor, author, and international conference speaker. He is also the president of Paul Tripp Ministries and the executive director of the Center for Pastoral Life and Care in Fort Worth, Texas. He has written a number of popular books on Christian living, including What Did You Expect?, Dangerous Calling, Parenting, and New Morning Mercies. He lives in Philadelphia with his wife Luella and they have four grown children. For more information and resources, visit

    Source: Give Up on Your Own Self-Righteousness | Monergism

    The post is an eye opener. I am a kind of person who believes in his own self-righteousness. I am always right,is my favorite one liner. Perhaps this is because I have too much self pride and I am too much selfish. Its' not that I don't realize my shortcomings. I do realize my wronged notion, however, I find very difficult to correct myself.

      I find the post fascinating, but I do think it should come with one warning. There's a certain type of person who will get up in grief, cry out for help and then instead of listening to what God sends them, will sit there and expect God to solve their problems for them. These are the people who get up each morning praying for a lottery win to solve their money problems, and sit around and wait, but ignore the phone call from a local shop that morning offering them a job...and then pray again next morning and sit around...

      God gives you what you need, not what you want, and sometimes, to paraphrase Edison, that help comes dressed in overalls and looks like hard work.

      You cannot tell if someone is being self-reliant and rejecting God when they try to do better, or whether they are doing what God sent them guidance to do. You can't tell whether their "plan to do better" was designed with prayer and God's guidance, or comes purely from their own mind. Only God knows that, so we cannot judge.
      Last edited by ChatterBox; 01-08-2017, 12:31 AM.

        In a sense, I can see the healthy reality needed for all of this to most effectively work. It is true, when it comes down to the very heart of the matter. Our own righteousness, or feeling of righteousness, cannot save anyone in and of itself. Salvation is a gift. Let God be God.
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