The Problem of Self-Righteousness

Don’t Ignore Your Owen Sins

Romans 2:1-11

February 12, 2023

Pastor Craig Ledbetter

Bible Baptist Church, Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland


I.     Announcement


A.   Sadly, Eric & Alison McNally will be leaving us to move to Northern Ireland very soon! They will be very missed!

B.   Join us right after Church today for a chance to enjoy some homemade Nachos together (yay), and fellowship with them, share some hugs & memories, and wish them all the best in their new adventures!

C.   Let's all take a moment to thank Eric & Alison for all the building & office work he has done for so many years; And for Alison’s dedicated & loving work in the creche minding the little ones etc.

D.   Wherever they go, we know they will continue to be a blessing!


II.   Introduction and Review (Romans 2:1-11)


A.   We are working our way through the Book of Romans, verse by verse, line by line

B.   Chapter 1 describes sinners, mainly Gentiles (that’s us)


1.    Sin has many faces: Fornication, Covetousness, Envy, Murder, Pride, and 100 more

2.    Sin is the result of living outside of God’s laws, God’s designs – living our own way

3.    And judgment/condemnation is the result

4.    But some people always try and exclude themselves from being in trouble – the self-righteous – people who think they are good, and not sinners like other people are


C.   So Chapter 2 warns against sitting in judgment of everyone as if you are not as bad as other people


1.    Chapter 2 is written to a group of people who believed they were good, upstanding, holy living people that were not sinners! People who thought they were guaranteed heaven when they died!

2.    I don’t know which is worse. Being self-righteous and not needing God and thinking you’re so good that you don’t need to repent…

3.    Or thinking that you are absolutely no good at all and figuring there’s no reason to repent because God would never accept you anyway!


D.   Self-righteousness is probably one of the worst sins!


III.         Message


A.   Who Do You Think YOU Are? (Romans 2:1)


1.    Romans 2:1  Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.

2.    There are obvious sinners (see chapter 1)

3.    And there are also arrogant sinners – self-righteous sinners

4.    They are Inexcusable


a.     Paul attacks the very thinking of people who think they are good, or have an excuse for the sinful way that they are

b.    Did you ever try and offer an “EXCUSE” to a Garda for why you were speeding?

c.     Did you ever try and offer an “EXCUSE” for why your report wasn’t turned in?

d.    Well, the Bible says, no one has an excuse when we face the judgment of God!


5.    Judging sinners


a.     It is easy to look at the list of sins that plague and infest every corner of this world, and see ourselves as morally superior (Luke 18:9-14)

b.    Luke 18:9-10  And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.

c.     The Pharisee…


1)    Luke 18:11,12 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.

2)    He was a praying man

3)    A religious man – worked very hard at obeying all the laws of God

4)    A confident man – confident in himself and his religion

5)    A teacher of the law

6)    A thankful man – not a grumbling, complaining man

7)    A fasting man – self-controlled, and able to say no to food

8)    A tithing man – gave away 10% of his income

9)    A separated man - NOT like so many other men were!

10) Sounds like such a GOOD man, right?


d.    The publican…


1)    Luke 18:13  And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.

2)    A traitor to his own people – collecting taxes from the Jewish people for the Romans

3)    A “greedy capitalist” – made a huge cut off of the taxes collected

4)    A bully – forcing people to pay their taxes

5)    Alone – hated by everybody

6)    An honest man – admitted he was a wicked sinner

7)    A desperate man – “don’t condemn me like I deserve!”


e.     Yet listen to Jesus…


1)    Luke 18:14  I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

2)    The good-living Pharisee was left to himself


a)    There is nothing wrong with the Pharisee doing all that he was doing

b)    But his problem was his view of himself – his PRIDE and self-righteousness

c)    And that damned him – blocked him from getting MERCY


3)    While the sinful publican, went home pardoned – forgiven – right with God! Justified means just as if he had never sinned!


f.     Which way do you see yourself?


B.   God’s Judgment is Spot On! (Romans 2:2)


1.    Romans 2:2  But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things.

2.    Against ALL sin - No one escapes God’s justice

3.    He IS judge of all – every race, language, culture, people, nation and tribe
Whether you like it or not

4.    He WILL judge all – no one ever gets away with murder, or thievery, or lying, or pornography, or drug dealing, or hatred, or lust, or bullying

5.    And He will judge RIGHTLY - God’s judgment is never wrong! He knows everything, so He is fully qualified to judge the whole world rightly!


C.   So, What is Self-Righteousness?


1.    It was an attitude the Jews had about themselves


a.     Believing they are better than other people – more holy

b.    Self-righteousness is a state of mind in which a person believes they are morally superior to others and that they are exempt from the same standards of behaviour that they expect from others.

c.     The Jews believed the fact they were descendants of Abraham meant they had special dispensation / special favour with God and made them a superior race, above all other “races” spiritually

d.    The fact is, the NATION of Israel is special to God, but their genetics / their DNA gave them no SPIRITUAL benefit


2.    Self-righteousness justifies itself and its own sins


a.     Blaming others

b.    Never taking responsibility

c.     Will always see its own wrong-doing as slight and small in comparison with others


3.    It is pride


a.     Self-righteousness is Believing in one's own superiority in talents, beauty, wealth, accomplishments, rank or office

b.    Having lofty airs, being distant from most people, and often in contempt of others.

c.     Satisfied with one’s self, and ability (yet honest men admit they are flawed and fail)


4.    Not caring about what God sees in us. Self-righteous people do not care about their actual spiritual condition, and criminal record in God’s record book! They close their eyes to their own sins, and only see sins in others – no compassion!

5.    It is a self-condemning sin


a.     The Bible says, Everyone who judges other sinners, always condemn themselves

b.    THAT is what this entire chapter proves

c.     Romans 2:1  Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things. [AND WON’T ADMIT IT]

d.    Listen to Jesus in Matthew 7:1-5


1)    Matthew 7:1  Judge not, that ye be not judged.

2)    General advice, but notice that it does NOT end there!

3)    Matthew 7:2  For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

4)    If you start noticing all the sin going on, you had better take a good look in your own home, and in your own heart and mind!

5)    Matthew 7:3  And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

6)    Matthew 7:4  Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?

7)    Matthew 7:5  Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.


8)    So, It is right to examine actions and motives – to judge

9)    But we are to do righteous judgment (John 7:24)  Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment. Do it RIGHT!

10) An eye doctor had better fix his/her own eyesight before they try and fix yours!

11) Start with discovering your own sins (you need proper glasses) the laws of God


e.     Examples of self-righteous people are:


1)    We know about The Pharisees (Matthew 23:25)  Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.

2)    And King David after his sin of adultery – thought he was okay since no one knew about it… did not want to hear the prophet Nathan rebuke him

3)    But Atheists feel like they are morally superior to God – find fault with everything in the Bible and with God!

4)    Modern Christians


a)    They only want to have their itching ears scratched, and their pet doctrines preached, and their conspiracy theories honoured – THAT is why there are so many churches and religions!

b)    They don’t want to hear about sin, and about the Gospel, and don’t want to be told they are doing wrong, and need to repent

c)    Large churches are built upon self-help, self-righteousness, and self-gratification – that is all the preaching and teaching they want


5)    We need to obey 2Chronicles 7:14,  If my people, which are called by my name [FORGET ABOUT EVERYONE ELSE], shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.


D.   Worry About Your Attitude (Romans 2:3,4)


1.    Romans 2:3,4  And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

2.    What us Your Attitude Towards People Who Sin?


a.     Disgust? That’s a start – we should not ever be comfortable with sin going on around us

b.    But how do you view people who live in rebellion to God?

c.     It is easy to just decide they are deserving of God’s judgment


3.    About Yourself


a.     You have probably convinced yourself you are different than others

b.    Yet, you probably do all the same things, but just not to the same amount

c.     The Bible says we do, and we need to take a good long look and check


4.    Towards the Goodness of God


a.     Do you even notice how good God is being towards you?

b.    Romans 2:4  Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

c.     The fact God is not actively punishing you every time you sin is proof of God’s kindness


1)    Forbearance is God waiting, delaying His judgment against you

2)    Longsuffering means God is patient with you, putting up with all your foolishness, and sins

3)    Whew! Quit thinking this government is good to you!

4)    God is good to you – admit it


d.    But God’s kindness is NOT proof He accepts your sin! You WILL still be judged one day – just like he will judge all the other “sinners” out there!

e.     So, God expects even you, no matter how religious you may be living, to repent, even though you haven’t been caught, exposed, and humiliated, and judged yet!


1)    Romans 2:4  … the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

2)    God would prefer if you repented and got converted!

3)    Jesus told a very religious man named Nicodemas that HE had to be born all over again on the inside, or else he was going to face the wrath of God!


5.    How is Your Heart? (Romans 2:4-6)


a.     Despising God’s kindness and goodness and grace


1)    Romans 2:4  Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

2)    How could anyone DESPISE God’s goodness and kindness?

3)    Yet people do – they take it as a reason to go lower, and live more wickedly


a)    Abusing the grace of God

b)    Refusing to repent – even though your own heart demands it, and you hear God in His word demand it


4)    The TEST to you this morning is HOW interested are you in knowing what GOD thinks of your life, than what YOU think of it!

5)    If you barely come to church, never read through your Bible, never worry about the sins you have become comfortable with, then YOU NEED TO BE WORRIED


b.    A Hard and Impenitent heart - A Cold, Hard Heart Towards Your Own Sin


1)    Romans 2:5,6  But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; Who will render to every man according to his deeds:

2)    Our problem is in our HEART – not our money, our job, our health…

3)    We heard all about the heart of wicked men and women in chapter 1

4)    Listen to the description of the heart of a self-righteous person…

5)    A hard heart is the worst kind of heart to have

6)    Impenitent means it won’t repent, won’t bend, yield, won’t agree with God

7)    Stuck on itself – won’t listen to anything except itself

8)    Try and love someone who has a hard heart towards you!

9)    Well, how is your heart towards GOD? Probably very stiff!


c.     Warning!


1)    A hard heart, only grows harder the longer you go without repenting

2)    They can come a time when it is impossible to repent because you are too hard!

3)    Why risk it?


E.   So, You Are In Trouble Too (Romans 2:5,6)


1.    Do you really believe you can escape the judgment of God?


a.     Just because you do NOT do what other people may be doing, do you really believe you are superior, and are able to judge them, and not yourself!

b.    John the Baptist warned the most religious people of the day, Pharisees, to “Flee from the wrath to come” because THEY were in such serious trouble with God!

c.     Jesus later warned the same Pharisees, in Matthew 23:33, “Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?


2.    Treasuring Up… WRATH (Romans 2:5,6)  But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; Who will render to every man according to his deeds:

3.    It will all catch up with YOU one day


F.    What is Repentance?


1.    Something unknown by 90% of the world, and misunderstood by the other 10%

2.    It is Sorrow for what you have done against God’s laws, and against people, and against yourself. Not just being sorry, but feeling sorrow and grief for wrongs done

3.    It is a Surrender to the right-ness of God’s ways of living – no longer fighting it

4.    Stopping all excuses, and defences – accepting that I am wrong – owning it

5.    A choice that turns my attention away from sin, to God’s Son

6.    And that is it!


a.     It is not you stopping sinning – it is you deciding you need God’s help to stop, and you want to stop, and you cry out to God to save you so you can and will stop!

b.    It does not save anyone. It just makes it possible for God to save… Like the plowing of hard, stony ground in a field, so seeds can be planted, and grown!


7.    Who Needs to Repent?


a.     Matthew 9:10-13  And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.


1)    The answer is, the same who need a physician/doctor – the sick in soul - sinners

2)    Sinners need to repent – not just believe, but humble themselves and go to the Doctor and get forgiven!

3)    1Timothy 1:15  This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.


b.    Luke 13:1-5  There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.


1)    The answer is, all of us!

2)    People in Turkey and Syria, who just experienced such an horrific series of earthquakes and destruction, were NOT worse sinners than WE

3)    And unless IRELAND repents, this nation will likewise, in the same horrible way, perish!


c.     That is why the Apostle Paul said in Acts 17:30,  And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent.


G.   We ALL Get What We Deserve (Romans 2:5-11)


1.    Fact: God will reward every man according to his reaction to the word of God (Romans 2:7,10)


a.     The Right Reaction (Romans 2:7)


1)    Romans 2:7  To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:

2)    Romans 2:10  But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile:

3)    ‘Patient continuance in doing right’ means:


a)    Just doing the right thing, continually

b)    The right thing is defined by God in the Bible, not by culture, community, or even by a church


4)    Seeking glory, honour, immortality… Will be rewarded with eternal life


a)    Luke 8:11  Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.

b)    Luke 8:12  Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.

c)    Luke 8:13  They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.

d)    Luke 8:14  And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.

e)    Luke 8:15  But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep [DOING] it, and bring forth fruit with patience.


5)    Why? Because, as you read the Bible, you will come to the conclusion that what Jesus did was perfect, and will always be enough!

6)    That is why ignorance of what this Bible says, damns this world!


b.    And the Wrong Reaction to the Word of God (Romans 2:8,9)


1)    Romans 2:8,9  But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;

2)    Contentious – argumentative

3)    Not obeying what is true

4)    But obeying unrighteousness, sin, temptations


6)    Results in:


a)    Indignation – extreme anger

b)    Wrath – violent anger

c)    Tribulation – worst trouble

d)    Anguish – extreme pain

e)    Upon the life of everyone who disobeys the word of God, whether Jew or Gentile! THAT is the end result of living without God

f)     If you only walked the streets of Cork at night, especially Friday and Saturday nights, you would see this!

g)    If you only had REAL reality TV shows, you would see the darkness in so many homes


2.    A slam against the Jews! Who saw themselves as so much better than us Gentiles


a.     Romans 2:9  … of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;

b.    Romans 2:11  For there is no respect of persons with God.

c.     They were more accountable to God, because they had more revelation from God!

d.    We are all the same before God below the surface of our skin


H.   Unless We Accept that JESUS Got What WE Deserve! THAT IS THE GOSPEL


1.    1John 2:1,2  My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

2.    Us ignorant, pagan, wicked Gentiles get saved and go into heaven ahead of all the religious Jews, and good living Mormons, and holy catholics

3.    Not because we are better than they, but because we own up to our sinfulness, and admit we need a Saviour




A.   Good people are not guaranteed a place in heaven (because there is none good)

B.   But honest sinners can jump the queue, so to speak, and go straight into heaven!

C.   How can sinners get ahead of good people?


1.    People just need to know they are in trouble with God – THAT is the start!

2.    All it takes is for any sinner, no matter how few many sins they are drowning in, if they are tired of sin and self, and would turn to the only Saviour, break down and admit they are wrong, and sinful, they can then ask, and they will be saved!

3.    You can be saved today!


D.   And dear Christian, we need to examine OUR hearts, and make sure we easily repent when we have done wrong, and done some of the same things this wicked world has done

E.    2Chronicles 7:14,  If my people, which are called by my name [FORGET ABOUT EVERYONE ELSE], shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.