Right & wrong in Jesus' perspective Part 4
- Paul against self-righteousness
Later Paul wrote a long epistle to Rome, and a smaller one to
Galatia to explain this idea further. He writes, "I am not ashamed
of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone
who believes for in it the righteousness of God is revealed." He
goes on to say that no human being is righteous. Although someone
tries his/her best to follow all the rules of religion, still he/she
is unrighteous. In short, Paul is trying to say that no one can
believe "I am right". On the other hand we need to believe "God is
To explain this idea further, Paul uses several metaphors. As
slavery existed in those days, Paul says that the transformation is
from the slavery under the master called sin to the slavery under
the master called righteousness. Paul uses the term sin for self-
righteousness. The wages they receive from the old master is death,
but the gift they receive from the new master is eternal life. He
extends this metaphor further saying that God has bought them from
their old master (sin) by paying a price.
Still another metaphor Paul uses is that of sacrifice. Sacrifice is
a part of Jewish religious tradition. Paul says that Jesus' death
was a sacrifice. Sacrifice has been traditionally the mark of an
agreement between God and people. Paul says that self-righteousness
or sin keeps God and people enemies to each other. However, in
Jesus' sacrifice, people make an agreement with God and reconcile.
John against self-righteousness
Later John summarized the message of Jesus as follows: "This is the
message we have heard from Him and announced to you, that God is
light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we
have no sin we are deceiving ourselves. . If we confess our sins,
He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse
us from all unrighteousness." I Jh 1:5 10. According to John, sin
is darkness, which makes us blind; it is something we can be
cleansed from: a sickness. It is also something which we need
forgiveness from God: a crime.
Jesus himself compared sin/ unrighteousness/ self-righteousness to
darkness. Self-righteous people live in darkness. They believe a lie
about themselves and about God.
By comparing sin to sickness, John makes the following affirmations:
1. One needs to admit that he/she is sick in order to go to a
doctor. Similarly, one needs to admit that he/she is a sinner
(spiritually sick) in order to seek a cure.
2. As soon as someone goes to God, and trusts in Him just like
a sick person trusts a doctor, God will cure him/her of his sin.
By comparing sin to a crime, John affirms that as soon as someone
admits that he he/she has not been right in thoughts, words and
deeds, God will forgive him/her just like the father of the prodigal
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