Friday, April 19, 2013

Q: Questions

Today's topic is questions: are you asking the right ones? What are the reasons and motives behind your questions? During Jesus' ministry, he was often criticized and questioned by the Pharisees who were out to trap Him and find fault. The Pharisees were legalists who cared more about their rules than showing love or actually living godly lives: they were hypocrites. 

Like the FOC member, who wishes to remain anonymous, the Pharisees asked a lot of questions. And, like Mr. Anonymous, they were asking all the wrong questions. Why do I ignore most of the man’s questions? Because the questions are red herrings – off topic and unimportant (and, not incidentally, he would argue and bicker with any answer I were to give). So, rather than addressing those legalistic questions, I’d like to take a look at the attitude behind them.

* * * * *

The dictionary definition of self-righteousness is “confident of one’s own righteousness, especially when smugly moralistic and intolerant of the opinions and behavior of others.” Biblically speaking, self-righteousness, also known as 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 in self-righteousness.

Jesus’ condemnation of self-righteousness was especially harsh in His treatment of the Jewish leadership of the time. Six times in Matthew 23, Jesus condemns the scribes and Pharisees for rigidly adhering to the letter of the law in order to make themselves look better to others. The parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector was specifically told by Jesus to “some who trusted in themselves, that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt" (Luke 18:9-14). The Pharisee assumed his acceptance with God based on his own actions, whereas the tax collector recognized that there was nothing in himself that would cause God to approve of him. Over and over again in the gospels, Jesus clashes with the Pharisees and scribes about true righteousness. At the same time, He spends a great deal of time and energy warning His disciples about the dangers of self-righteousness, making it clear that without Him, they could do nothing (John 15:5).

Paul’s treatment of self-righteousness is no less scathing than Jesus’ was. He began his great argument in Romans for the grace of God by condemning the Jews’ self-righteous trust in circumcision (Romans 2:17-24). He follows that up in chapter 10, saying that the Jews tried to gain acceptance with God based on their own righteousness, demonstrating ignorance of the true righteousness of God (Romans 10:3). His conclusion is that Christ is the end of righteousness, not man.

Paul’s letter to the Galatian church also addressed this very issue. These believers were being told that they had to do certain things to be acceptable to God, specifically be circumcised. Paul goes so far as to say that this is another gospel and calls those who advocate it “accursed” (Galatians 1:8-9). More tellingly, he tells his readers that if righteousness could come from their own actions, then Jesus died “for no purpose” (Galatians 2:21), and that righteousness could come “by the law” (Galatians 3:21). Paul’s conclusion about the Galatian believers was that they had been foolish in their attempt to be perfected by the flesh (Galatians 3:1-3).

It would be an understatement to say that every believer is plagued by this attitude. It is in our sin nature to try to do something to merit our salvation. The costly freedom of grace, bought for us by the blood of Jesus with no contribution from us, is difficult for our prideful hearts to understand or appreciate. It is far easier to compare ourselves with one another than it is to recognize that we cannot measure up to the standards of a holy God. However, in Christ we can know true righteousness. In Christ, we can know the forgiveness of sin that comes to us through grace. Because He stood in our place, we benefit from both His sinless life and His sin-bearing death (2 Corinthians 5:21). Because of His sacrifice, we can face our sin and bring it to the cross, rather than try somehow to be good enough for God. Only in the cross can we see the grace that covers all our sin, and defeat the constant tendency to self-righteousness in our hearts.

This article was reprinted with permission, and originally appeared at


  1. The right questions (at least for me) especially when I first became a believer

    Is everything in the Bible true?
    Absolutely, Writen by men inspired by God.
    Surrender by faith.

    Can we reach Heaven thru works?
    The only way is thru the blood of Christ.

    Becoming self righteos, is a tool of the Devil. He wants us to believe we can do it on our own.
    For one I know I can't.

    We will always have questions,fortunately we know where to go for the answers.

  2. So basically this is a long winded version of why you won't discuss anything positive about the foc? You don't look more credibil because of this. It just appears you know the questions asked are valid and you refuse to give an answer because you can't spin the answers negatively. When you were asked about a myriad of things including spousal abuse you jumped all over it because you had a few examples that you used to pigeon hole us (once again) as a group. But when that was left out you had to write all of this to justify why you won't adress the rest of the questions. Just admit Suzanne, you are not willing to have an honest discussion about the foc, you only want your readers to hear your opinion of the foc and not the whole truth.

  3. You don't look very "credbil" (sic)either. You and I both know would be impossible to compare the abuse rates between FOC and non FOC because Follower women generally do not report abuse. They don't even have the same definition of abuse. Many were raised believing getting hit was an acceptable punishment for displeasing your husband. There is no reason to tell you were abused if you believe it was your fault.

  4. You need to pay attention. You are completely off topic. Abuse was already addressed. There are many things suzanne is avoiding. Btw you are full of crap for saying anyone is raised believing hitting a woman is acceptable. You just sound stupid saying things so ridiculous and anyone that believes that would believe anything.

  5. Mr. Red Herring (Google it April 20, 2013 at 10:25 PM)

    I will take the bait.

    Off topic? you Anonymous April 20, 2013 at 10:25 PM said "When you were asked about a myriad of things including spousal abuse you jumped all over it because you had a few examples" I believe I am directly on topic! You are trying to imply spousal abuse does not occur except for the few examples Susi stated. Abuse rates are impossible to compare between the world and the FOC, not because of the lack of abuse,just the lack of reporting.

    Sadly my aunt said "Walter said it would be very hard for a real man to stand by and have a woman yell in his face and not hit her. That girl had better learn when to keep her mouth shut" This was in response to the rumor that JM allegedly hitting his second wife.

    Mr. Red Herring, maybe you need to stand in some different circles on Sunday morning, you may be surprised by what other followers (many of them young men) believe is acceptable.

    Susi has stated the good things about the church, she just doesn't believe the good outweighs the bad.

  6. "you are full of crap"

    “Profanity is the weapon of the witless”--unknown

    You, my friend Anon, need a better weapon or more wits.


The catchpa has been removed to enable easier commenting. Spam and irrelevant comments will be deleted.