From Self-Righteousness to Salvation: Christ’s Unfailing Call to Repentance
The yearning to be good, noble, and self-sufficient is a struggle that resonates with many. This pursuit often leads some to depend on their own righteousness, a path that may seem right but is at odds with the teachings of Jesus Christ. In the heart of the Gospel, Jesus Himself provides the answer, proclaiming, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15).
Salvation through faith in Jesus Christ is a foundational truth of the Gospel. Repentance and belief are not isolated concepts but intimate companions in this journey. For those who have sincerely placed their trust in Jesus, salvation is secure, a precious gift that God graciously bestows. To repent is to recognize our need for God’s forgiveness, turning away from sin, and seeking a new path. Belief is the trusting acceptance of Christ’s sacrifice, affirming God’s promises, and committing to follow Him wholeheartedly.
However, the allure of self-reliance, often referred to as self-righteousness, can lead to a hardened and deceived heart that overlooks the crucial aspect of repentance. As Jeremiah 17:9 says, ‘The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?’
But what does repentance truly mean? Repentance is more than feeling sorry for one’s sins; it’s a heartfelt turning away from our sinful ways and a sincere commitment to follow God. Think of it like realizing you’re going down a wrong path and making a complete U-turn to head in the right direction. An everyday example might be a child who disobeys a parent, recognizes the wrongdoing, apologizes sincerely, and makes a genuine effort not to repeat the mistake. This profound act of changing one’s mind and heart aligns us with God’s will and opens the door to His grace and mercy.
In our world today, repentance can be overshadowed by the values of self-sufficiency and personal achievement. Yet, the importance Christ placed on repentance and belief is unmistakable. He began His ministry with the call: ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near’ (Matthew 4:17).
Our goal is to explore this subject with compassion, recognizing that the call to repentance and belief is a loving invitation from our Heavenly Father. It’s a call to examine our hearts, turn from sin, and draw closer to Him, leading us from darkness into light, from bondage into freedom, and from despair into everlasting joy.
If you’ve ever felt tension between the world’s emphasis on personal strength and Christ’s call for humility and reliance on Him, this exploration is for you. We will delve into the Scriptures, focusing on those who may need to recognize their true spiritual fallenness and sincerely repent and call upon the Lord for salvation.
The path ahead is filled with gravity and hope, guided by the timeless teachings of our Savior, and anchored in the unchanging truths of God’s Word. Together, repentance and belief form the gateway to experiencing the fullness of salvation offered in Christ Jesus, a path filled with grace, hope, and transformation.
The Allure of Self-Righteousness
The Desire for Control
Many earnestly strive to be good, loving, and accepting, embracing values they believe align with a compassionate worldview. However, this desire for control can become a blind spot, leading to choices that, though well-intended, are at odds with Christ’s teachings.
Our society encourages the pursuit of individual truths, often equating love with affirmation and acceptance of all choices. It’s a comfortable blind spot that makes it easy to overlook God’s commands. Many sincere individuals deem themselves good, loving people, affirming others in their choices, even when those choices conflict with biblical principles.
When it comes to issues like relationships, morality, and personal rights, well-meaning people often find themselves asking, “Shouldn’t everyone have the right to love as they wish?” or “Isn’t it loving to support others in their personal choices?” However, without a deep understanding of what God’s Word actually instructs, these questions can lead to a dangerous divergence from Christ’s teachings.
The Spiritual Danger
This disconnect, this blind spot, poses a spiritual danger. While embracing love and compassion, many fail to see that they are choosing their understanding over God’s wisdom. Christ calls us to “repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15), but without knowing what is commanded, many don’t recognize their need to repent.
Embracing societal values without examining them against God’s Word can lead us to believe that our love, our acceptance, our judgment of what is right, is enough. But Proverbs warns us, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death” (Proverbs 14:12).
The allure of self-righteousness is subtle, often masked by a genuine desire to be good and loving. But it leads us away from the need for repentance and the true love that God offers through Christ. Understanding our blind spots, recognizing where our judgment conflicts with God’s commands, and surrendering our ways to His authority are essential steps in aligning with His righteousness.
The Biblical View of Righteousness
God’s Standard of Righteousness
God’s righteousness is perfect and far above our human understanding. Jesus confronted the self-righteous attitudes of His day, especially among the religious leaders who prided themselves on their piety. In Matthew 23:25-28, He admonishes the Pharisees:
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”
These piercing words serve as a caution to all who would boast in their righteousness. The Lord sees the heart, not just the outward appearance, and He knows when our actions are rooted in pride rather than genuine love for Him.
Similarly, in Luke 18:10-14, the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector, Jesus contrasts the self-righteous boasting of the Pharisee with the humble plea of the tax collector. The Pharisee stands and prays: “God, I thank you that I am not like other men.” But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift his eyes to heaven and simply prays: “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” Jesus concludes that it was the humble man, not the Pharisee, who went home justified before God.
The Gift of Grace
Righteousness is not something we can earn through our efforts. Paul explains in Romans 3:23 that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” emphasizing the impossibility of achieving righteousness through our works.
Instead, righteousness comes as a gift through faith in Jesus Christ. Paul beautifully illustrates this in 2 Corinthians 5:21: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” It is only through Christ that we can be made righteous, not by our own merit but by His grace.
Repentance and Faith
Repentance and faith are the cornerstones of the Christian faith, as taught by Jesus throughout His ministry. He urged people to turn away from their sins and believe in Him. Using the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector in Luke 18:9-14, Jesus showed the profound difference between self-righteousness and true repentance.
The teachings of Jesus reveal the heart of the issue: self-righteousness blinds us to our need for Christ, leading us to trust in ourselves rather than in God’s perfect standard. Jesus’ words call us to humility, repentance, and an honest examination of our hearts, prompting us to question our attitudes and align ourselves with God’s perfect standard. It’s a call to self-reflection and a sincere return to the loving arms of our Savior, who offers us the true source of righteousness.
The Consequences of Rejecting God’s Authority
Eternal Consequences: The Bible warns about the eternal ramifications of rejecting God’s ways, and Jesus Himself emphasizes the urgency of repentance. in Luke 13:4-5 He recalls a tragic event where eighteen people were killed when the tower in Siloam collapsed on them, saying, “Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” This profound statement is not just about a historical tragedy or a random example; Jesus used it to drive home a vital point. He wanted to show that those who died were not more sinful or deserving of death than anyone else. It’s a stark reminder to all of us that life can be unpredictable and fragile, and the need for repentance is urgent.
We can see ourselves in this context; we too are not exempt from life’s uncertainties and the need to align with God’s will. The refusal to repent leads to spiritual death, eternal separation from Christ. This grave warning is not just a historical lesson; it’s a call to action that compels us to examine our lives and recognize our need for God’s grace and mercy.
Personal Struggles: The consequences of rejecting God’s authority reach beyond the eternal realm. In the here and now, it may lead to confusion, spiritual emptiness, and a misunderstanding of true goodness. When one’s values and beliefs are grounded in self and societal norms rather than God’s unchanging truth, it’s like building a house on shifting sand. The lack of a firm foundation leads to a life without real purpose and meaning. The Bible warns of such a perilous path, urging us to seek God’s wisdom and align our lives with His will.
Societal Influences: Today’s culture often values personal beliefs, feelings, and societal norms over biblical commands. This has led to a dangerous shift in understanding righteousness, and in many cases, a complete rejection of the need for repentance. The voices that champion self-love and personal freedom above all else can drown out the gentle call of Christ to follow Him. Many people, even those claiming to be Christian, adopt views that affirm what is popular in society but conflict with God’s Word. Whether it’s accepting attitudes towards things like homosexuality and abortion, or embracing a “live and let live” philosophy, these societal influences lead individuals further away from God’s commands. The danger is not in the specifics of each issue but in the overall rejection of God’s authority. It’s a blind spot that many fall into, deeming their own behaviors loving and therefore acceptable before God, without understanding what God truly commands.
A Loving Invitation
A Call to Consider: Consider Christ’s outreach to the most unlikely in society. He met with tax collectors, prostitutes, and the despised – people who were regarded as sinners, rejecting God. Through the story of Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10), a tax collector who had lived a self-centered and self-seeking life, we see how Jesus lovingly calls even the worst in society to repentance. Zacchaeus was filled with pride, yet Jesus looked past his sins and offered salvation. Can you see how Christ’s call extends even to you?
Humanity’s Wayward Path: Every person, regardless of background or belief, conducts their lives in ways contrary to what God calls us to do. We are self-centered and self-seeking, filled with pride, and often ignorant of the truth. The Scriptures declare, “There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10). Do you recognize this reality in your life?
Christ’s Unfailing Love: Consider the weight of the words: “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6). This passage reveals a love so deep, so undeserved, and so transformative that it can be hard to fathom.
Imagine you are in a dark, dangerous pit, trapped by your own choices and the consequences of a life led astray. The walls are steep and unclimbable, and there seems to be no way out. You are that sinner, weakened by rebellion and stranded in a place of despair.
Then, into this pit comes a light, and the voice of Jesus calls to you. He doesn’t just send a rope or a ladder; He Himself descends into the darkness to be with you. He doesn’t merely reach down; He comes down to where you are. His hands are not just extended; they are scarred, bearing the weight of your sins, and yet they hold you with a gentleness that heals and restores.
This is the love of Christ. He died for you when you were at your weakest, your most ungodly. He saw you not for what you were but for what you could become in Him. His death was not a distant act but a personal sacrifice, a reaching into the very depths of human brokenness to bring redemption and life.
Such love is not a fleeting emotion or a shallow sentiment. It’s a fierce, unwavering commitment that pursues you even when you are running away. It’s a love that sees beyond your failures, your pride, your self-righteousness, and calls you to something higher, something holy, something only possible through His grace.
How can we respond to such love? It’s a love that invites not just admiration but transformation. It calls you to turn from your ways, to repent, and to embrace the Savior who gave everything to rescue you. Will you let His love change your heart today?
A Time for Decision:
The call to repentance is not just a demand; it is an invitation. An invitation to leave behind the chains of sin, the illusions of self-righteousness, and the dead ends of worldly pursuits. It is a beckoning to embrace the grace, the love, and the transformation only Jesus Christ can offer.
Scripture declares: “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2). Today, not tomorrow, not some distant future, but right now, is the moment to respond to Christ’s call.
Imagine kneeling before the God of the universe, overwhelmed by His presence, yet enveloped by His love. Let this be your prayer:
“Father in Heaven, thank You for Your boundless grace and Your unfailing love. Thank You for seeing me, a wretch, a sinner, yet loving me still. Thank You for Your nail-pierced hands, Your sacrificial death, Your triumphant resurrection, and the empty tomb that promises life eternal.
I recognize my need for You, Lord. I turn from my ways and embrace Your way. I receive You, Jesus, as my Lord and Savior. Transform me by Your Spirit, and let me walk in Your truth, reflecting Your love to a world in need.
The decision is yours. Christ’s arms are open wide, His love is reaching out, and His promise of salvation is yours to claim. Will you answer His call? Will you embrace the Savior who gave all to rescue you?
May you find in Jesus not just a doctrine to believe but a Person to know, love, and follow. In Him, there is hope, there is life, and there is a future filled with purpose and joy.
Thank you sincerely for investing your valuable time with us at Victorious Christians. It is a privilege and joy to be part of your faith journey. Your pursuit of understanding, your desire to grow closer to God, and your willingness to engage with the eternal truths of Scripture are commendable and inspiring.
May your walk with Christ be strengthened, your heart be touched by His love, and your life be a testimony to His grace. We look forward to continuing to serve you as you grow in faith and experience the victorious life that only Jesus can provide.
With warm regards and prayers for your spiritual growth,
The Victorious Christians Team