The Other Self-Righteous

There are at least two manifestations of self-righteousness. The first is the “religious” self-righteous, the one most people think of, exemplified by the Pharisee of Luke 18: 9-14.

But often people fail to take note of the worldly self-righteous. This is the man who attempts to justify his aversion to the church by pointing to some hypocrisy, real or imagined, in one or more of its members. Since he sees himself as “just as good as that guy”, he has fooled himself into thinking “that guy’s sins and shortcomings” somehow mitigate his own. So he ignores the Lord, the church and the Bible. He may pray from time to time when he gets in a jam. Whether he acknowledges it or not, he has a need to be confronted with the gospel, he has a responsibility to assemble with the church to encourage others and to worship God. He fails to realize that just as he is “just as good” as the church-going hypocrite in this life, in eternity he will be just as lost.
Brad Fry

Published in: on December 10, 2014 at 11:16 am  Comments (2)  
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Caught

Occasionally when John 8:1-11 is being discussed, it is interesting to note some of the emphases and suppositions many make about the event. This is the record of the woman caught in adultery. Some wonder where the man is with whom the woman was committing adultery and why he isn’t being charged. Others suppose that the woman has been set up and being used as a pawn in this trap to corner Jesus. Still others portray her as an entirely sympathetic character who probably had no choice but to do what she did.

         While there may be some merit to differing degrees to some of these points, I wonder if they have been made so much that we’ve missed God’s point. What we know precisely of this woman from the text is that she was caught committing adultery. She may have been the pitiable character described above. Or, for all we know, she may have been a brazen reprobate with a calloused conscience who was cheating on her husband and neglecting her kids. She may have been a loose living home-wrecker who was having an affair with another woman’s husband. We just don’t know whether she was more deserving of sympathy or scorn. We do know this—she was caught in adultery. Then she stood before Jesus. And Jesus not only disarmed her self-righteous accusers from being able to condemn her, he himself passed over condemning her, even though he was the only one fit to do so.

         Could it be that one of the reasons some want to see the woman less culpable for her situation is that otherwise our standard for forgiveness and justice is turned on its head? If she is to be forgiven, don’t we want her to deserve it? Must not there be some extenuating circumstance that makes the grace shown her more merited? But that’s the thing about grace—it’s never merited. Grace is not just for people who’ve done annoying things. Grace is for people who’ve done abominable things.

         Make no mistake about it. Anyone who remains unrepentant in their sin before God stands condemned. But for some people, there is something that happens when you stand before Jesus and you are vulnerable, helpless and have nowhere to turn. That can strip down pride and prompt true repentance. That can break a hard heart and make it useful for the Master.

         Jesus’ parting words for the woman were, “Go, and from now on sin no more.” When she came she had been caught in adultery. When she left she was caught in grace.

 Brad Fry

Published in: on November 3, 2010 at 11:39 am  Comments (2)  
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The Error of Narrow Exclusivism

What does constitute the true church or a true Christian, biblically speaking? Is it a matter of getting everything right? Does it mean you hold the proper position in all of the debates of the day? Are you only authentic if you have aced someone’s acid test?

         Two of the many letters the apostle Paul wrote were the letters of 1st and 2nd Corinthians. Here were some of the problems the Christians in Corinth had: They were divisive, arrogant, worldly and lawsuit-happy. They were judgmental, unloving and unconcerned about their brethren. They had turned the worship assembly into a chaotic, prophetic free-for-all. They had made the Lord’s Supper into something unholy and selfish. Some were absolutely ignorant when it came to the resurrection. Some questioned whether Paul had any authority to be telling them what to do. Those are just some of the highlights of their error. But notice how Paul addressed them, “To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:2,3). Evidently error, whether in doctrine or lifestyle does not invalidate a Christian or a church. Must these problems be repented of? Of course, that’s why Paul wrote the letters. May these problems put a person’s salvation in jeopardy? Absolutely. But teaching to correct error and warning of the dangers of apostasy are a far cry from thinking that we are capable judges of the eternal destinies of our brethren. No one has everything right (1 John 1:8). Otherwise we wouldn’t need God’s grace. Are you that sure of your performance? I’m not.

         But to ask again the question, isn’t there something that testifies as to whether or not one is a Christian? Indeed there is. At the very beginning of the church God told us what that is: “Now when they heard this [Peter’s preaching of the gospel], they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do? And Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’ So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and there were added that day about three thousand souls.” (Acts 2:37,38, 41).

         That’s the church folks. Nothing more, nothing less. Always has been. Always will be. Do what they did and you’ll be what they were—a Christian.

Brad Fry

Published in: on October 27, 2010 at 10:34 am  Leave a Comment  
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