How to Give Up Protecting Your Self-Righteousness

Yesterday we looked at the Christian’s fight against sin and the need we have to confess to God even the sinful desires in our hearts that seem to come out of nowhere.  The need for this comes from the reality that sinful desires actually don’t come out of nowhere but are in our hearts because we are sinful by nature.  In other words, our sinful desires do not come from Satan or some unknown outside source but from within us, whether we are conscious of them or not (see Matthew 15:19 and James 1:14).

Today I want to write about one of the reasons I think we may not like the idea that we are responsible for our sinful desires.  We have all had numerous experiences where in the middle of doing something seemingly virtuous, a sinful thought appears in our hearts and minds that is sick and corrupt.  It’s one of those thoughts that scares you because of the depth of its depravity and makes you feel dirty for having thought it.  Immediately, you shake your head (as if that’s going to do the trick) and say to yourself, “No!”.  You try to go back to what you were doing but the thought still threatens to unfold in your mind, and even after it’s gone the fact that it was in your mind still haunts you.  To confess that such thoughts come from within you obliterates any remaining dignity you thought you had, so you choose to write it off as uncategorized evil and only confess the sins you feel like you actively chose.  You know that if you confess that such thoughts come from you, then you are admitting you are capable of atrocities reserved only for the real scum of the earth.   We all want to protect our own self-righteousness (which is an illusion in the first place), so we hold back those desires from the light of the gospel.

Many of you are familiar with 1 John 1:7 which tells us we need to “walk in the light”, but do you remember the benefit John gives for doing this? – “the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin”.  Similarly in verse 9 we are told, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  These verses, though often quoted to unbelievers who need to come to Christ for salvation, are actually written to believers to encourage us to walk before the Lord as an open book, believing that God, through Christ, continually cleanses us and removes many of the temporal consequences of sin that we experience as a daily reality in this life.  If we refuse to confess our sinful desires to God, we will miss out on the benefits of God’s conscience-cleansing, burden-lifting grace for those sins and should not expect to grow in great measure.

The gospel of Jesus Christ deals with sin fully and completely, so one of the best things we can do for God’s glory and our joy is to stop trying to protect our pride and spill out all known sin in confession to the Lord.  Stop hanging on to the lie that you yourself are good and embrace the reality that God is good  Then, remember that through the death of Jesus you receive the blessings of that goodness more and more as you agree with God about your sin… even the sin at the level of your desires.


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About Brent Osterberg

Ransomed sinner, husband to Keri, father to the kiddos three, associate pastor at Calvary Bible Church in Fort Worth, TX, and lover of most things epic. View all posts by Brent Osterberg

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