Creflo Dollar - How To Recognize Self-Righteousness
Look at Romans chapter 4, and in Romans chapter 4, we're gonna look at verses 1 through 8. And I'm gonna be reading out of the New Living Translation. I think this will really bless you. I try to teach on some aspect of righteousness at least two or three times a year, because it's the most vital part of the believer's life and grace. Very, very important. Verse 1, he says this, "Abraham," Romans chapter 4 verse 1 through 8. We were right there, right? Romans 4 through 8. "Abraham was, humanly speaking, The founders of our Jewish nation. What did he discover about being made right with God"? What did Abraham discover about being made right with God? "If his good deeds had made him acceptable to God, he would have had something to boast about". If his good deeds made him acceptable unto God.
Now listen to this, I love the New Living Translation 'cause we really need to hear it this way. "If his good deeds had made him acceptable to God, he would have had something to boast about". But that was not God's way. So your good deeds don't make you acceptable to God. I didn't know that when I first got born again. I was busy about trying to do as many good deeds as I could to be acceptable to God, and that's what we're taught. But he says, that's not God's way. That's not God's way. Verse 2, "If his good deeds had made him acceptable to God, he would've had something to boast about. But that was not God's way". Verse 3, "For the Scripture tells us, Abraham believed God". He did what? He believed God and what did God do? "God counted it unto him as righteousness because of his faith".
That's what's in Genesis I believe chapter 15. He believed God, he believed God, and he was counted righteous because of his faith. Accounted righteous because of his faith. You're righteous because you believe you are. You believe what he said about you, okay? Verse 4. He says, "When people work, their wages are not a gift". A wage is something you earn, right? So, "When people work, their wages are not a gift, but something they have earned". Verse 5, "But people are counted as righteous, not because of their work, but because of their faith in God who forgive sinners". So I'm righteous because one day I had faith in God, he forgave me, he saved me, and I said, you know I said, "I believe you Lord". And heaven said, "You're righteous". Not because of my anything that I did to earn it, it was a gift to me, praise God, all right?
"David also spoke of this when he described the happiness of those who are declared righteous without working for it". I like this. "They were declared righteous without working for it". Somebody say, "I'm the righteousness of God, without working for it". Stop right there, that's enough to make you just wanna love on God all day long, all right? Next verse. "Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sins are put out of sight". This is so amazing to me because your sins have been put out of sight except your own sight. It seems like you're the only one paying attention to something that you're not supposed to even see. Oh, man. Verse 8, "Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of sin". You didn't work for it. He has, he has cleared your record of sins.
If you could ask God, "God, could I see my record"? And you're trying to look for something you did in 1978 on Saturday at 4 o'clock, it's gone, it's gone. Who can forgive like our God? And that's why I wanna serve him, and that's why I wanna, I wanna depend on him, that's why there's no one like him. Nobody like him. And this is, you know this is just first scripture, but that's enough to make you chuck some corn, amen. All right, now let's look at a series here. Hebrews 10:14. I wanna put this in here, and I wanna show you these scriptures before we start. Because boy, that self-righteousness, it'll sneak up on you if you let it.
All right, verse 14 says, "For by one offering, he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified". That one offering was the offering and the body of Jesus Christ. The body of Jesus Christ has perfected us who are sanctified forever by one offering. It's done, it's a done deal, okay? It's finished, it's done. It's not you know, I'm righteous today, and I got to be careful not to lose it. All right, so my question is, how do you think you would lose it? "Well, if I do something wrong, I might". Wait, wait you wasn't doing nothing right when you got it. You're following what I'm saying? What are you gonna learn in this series? You're gonna learn how amazing your God is.
All right, let's look at these Ephesians 2:8 through 9. I've never really focused in on the boasting aspect of it that, you know, I don't ever wanna be in a position where something happens by the hand of God, and I can find a reason to give myself or credit something to me or boast about something. If you can boast about God, that's what he wants. If you can boast about you probably, you didn't do it right. Ephesians 2 verse 8 and 9, "For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourself; it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast".
And I'm gonna do something here, I'm gonna take everything we've been learning over the last six months, and I wanna look at verse 8, and I'm gonna read it based on your deeper understanding of what these two words mean. For by this unmerited, abounding provision, of the operation, of the unrestricted, infinite love of God, that comes through Jesus Christ for us, especially for those who depend on him. For by that, you are saved, through a total dependence on God. And you had to. He saved you through this grace, and you depending on God for it to be true, for it to be authentic. You had to depend on him for that salvation. You couldn't save yourself, so your salvation was totally dependent on him. And he says it right there, and that not of yourself, he said, this was a gift of God that came to you by grace.
And you depending on God got it to you, and then he says, verse 9, "Not of your works, no man can boast about what happened". Nobody in here can boast about, oh you were so awesome and you were so amazing, and that's how you got saved. You got to, you just have to, you have to lift your hands up and say, "Look at Jesus," amen. Look at Titus 3 and 5. Titus chapter 3 and 5. It's gonna be good. Verse 5, "Not by works of righteousness, not by works of righteousness". Now, what is it that the church majors on? Works of righteousness, right? There's nothing wrong with doing good deeds and all that other kind of stuff, but you got to be careful not to use that to give credit to what only God gave you by his grace, okay? Works are so received by God when they are done from a love motivation, absolutely. But your works won't get you what grace can only give you. You understand that?
And so this relationship has got to be much deeper than what I can, the works of righteousness that I can do, and really expecting for something to come from your works of righteousness. I mean, God appreciates it and everything, but if you're trying to be the righteousness of God through your works and then giving your works credit for it, it's not gonna happen. And that's where religion deceives, and I'm gonna show you this religious aspect in a minute. "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his". What? "His mercy". He did what? "He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Spirit". His mercy is involved, his mercy is involved here.
And then let's look at Romans 10:3 and then I got one more, and we'll get started. Somebody says, "You better hear him get started, you're running out of time". Romans 10:3. "For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, going about to establish their own righteousness". You see a distinction here. He mentions God's righteousness versus our own righteousness. And he says, "For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and they went about establishing their own righteousness". Now, they went about establishing their own righteousness because they were ignorant of God's righteousness, okay? He said, "They have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God". And when you do not submit yourself to the righteousness of God, you will establish your own righteousness.
Think about it, if you're not really there where you're submitted to the righteousness of God, you are probably spending every day establishing your own righteousness. And so you're right by your own standards, you're right by your own works. And this righteousness is righteousness based on your complete dependence on him. If Jesus is all right, you all right. If Jesus is right you're right. That's what this is about, it's about him. And then finally, Proverbs chapter 20 and verse 9. Proverbs 20 and verse 9. New Living Translation, stay there. Proverbs 20 and verse 9. New Living Translation. "Who can say, I have cleansed my heart; I am pure and free from sins"?
That's interesting. He say, "Who can say that? Who can say, I've cleansed my heart? Who can say I have cleansed my heart? Who can say, I am pure and free from sin because I cleansed my heart"? You missed a lot of spots. You can't cleanse your heart, only he can. He can do that, amen. Now let's get into this now. But that's the basic foundation of what this series is gonna be about. Let's, you know if we're talking about defining self-righteousness, I believe if I define self-righteousness, I'll give you a picture of the righteousness of God. So here's the deal self-righteousness, I would define it as people who are working or striving to get right with God. People who are working and striving to get right with God.
Now I'm gonna ask you to just think about something. Do you remember when you were striving to get right with God? Yeah. I think that's one of the things that's running a lot of people away from the church. They worked real hard to get right with God, not knowing they were already right with God, but they wouldn't receive that they were right with God, and the striving drove them away. It's like, "I can't do it no more". And don't add some condemnations, some guilt and some sin to all of that, it's like I don't even know how to do this.
Look at Galatians 5 and 4. People striving to get right with God. I mean, that's on their own effort, okay? Galatians chapter 5 and 4 in the New Living Translation. Let's do all of it in the New Living translation tonight I wanna teach from that. He says, "For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ"! Wow. I think that King James says, "You have fallen from Christ". You have fallen from grace. And we thought falling from grace meant falling into sin. Falling from grace means to fall back into the law. It literally means to fall back into self-effort, to fall back into your own self-sufficiency. It means to fall back from depending on God, to declaring your own dependence from God, okay? "For if you are trying to make yourself right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God's grace".
And why? Because you're trying to make yourself right with God by keeping the law. Well, think about what it was when we first joined the church and when we first got saved. You know the first thing we learned is, you know, what do you do and what you don't do. And so we were trying to be right with God by keeping the laws, by keeping the rules and the regulations. And I mean, what else are you supposed to do? We didn't know any, that's what you're supposed to do. You're supposed to keep the Ten Commandments and then ask somebody you need to pray, you need to fast this, you need to be right, do right, act right, and I'm not any way saying to contradict those things, but I'm saying there was a better route that God had, and it was through him and not through your own self efforts. And we wasted a lot of time, and then we became religious, and then we started hanging around people who thought they were hearing from God, and we started playing church.
You know, I got a word from you, I had a dream about you and all that, it's just like, this was just too much, and just like, you just wanted to quit, you know. It got rough. I meet people like that all the time, that used to be in church, used to be great Christians. I'm like, "What happened"? "That just wasn't for me". I found out it wasn't for a lot of people. That got really rough striving and that's what the scripture describes here. And it says, "You fall from grace when you fall back into self-effort". Look at Galatians 2:16, also in NLT. Galatians 2:16, pretty powerful scripture here. He says, "Yet we know that a person is made right with God". How is a person made right with God then, if we're not keeping all the laws and stuff? The issue is, you're gonna be keeping all the right things, but not by your own effort. It's the Holy Spirit that's gonna be working in you and giving you the power to do what pleases God.
So look what he says. "Yet we know that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, and not by obeying the law". Whoa. I didn't hear that when I first got saved. You know the world of difference it would've made? You would be shocked the number of times you read over these scriptures. I sit now in different places and I see preachers just read over it, like ain't nothing there. Like, let's just get past this and get to the good part. You're at the good part. "Yet we know that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, and not by obeying the law. And we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we might be made right with God because of our faith in Christ, not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be made right with God by obeying the law".
How many of you know we need to do this refreshing? Amen. And that's what we were, that's what we were working to be diligent at. Got to keep all these commandments, got to keep all of that. Not understanding that, you know, the rules were not supposed to administer morality. It was supposed to be the Holy Spirit that ministers morality. By changing your heart, working in you, changing your desire, giving you the desire to do what pleases God and the power to be able to do that. That's Holy Ghost, he has accepted the responsibility for our transformation. He didn't ask you to work to be right, he asked you to believe him, and he was gonna work on your righteousness. How simple is that? "Believe me. Have faith in me. You're right, because you believe me".
Check Abraham out. Abraham believe God, and heaven said, "You're righteous". What? And then we read this past Sunday and I believe in Genesis chapter 20. We saw the liar, we saw the fearful man, we saw the coward man, and God still called him a prophet. 'Cause God said, "I declared you righteous, I don't know how you're seeing yourself, but I still see you as what I declare". 'Cause traditional church will tell you well, you know, "You know you can lose your righteousness". Please tell me how, tell me how. You trying to say once saved, always saved? Well, tell me how you lose it. The only way I know you lose it is by an act of your own will to reject everything that Jesus stands by, and you're not even mature enough.
Hebrew says, you got to have a level of maturity for that to even rule out the mercy of God. You can do something stupid like, "Well, I just don't believe God. He didn't give me my money like he said he would. I don't like God". God say, "That's a little baby, don't pay no attention. The mercy of God's still over you. They ain't even grown up enough. They ain't even grown up enough to commit the unpardonable sin". You have to be like seriously, seriously mature, I think the Bible talks about working all, you have to operate in all the gifts of the Spirit, you got to have, you know this call in your life, this anointing in your life, you got to come to a level of maturity and then open clear minded, turn away from God. That's rare, that's rare.
And here's why I say it. It's rare that even if you turn away from God, all you got to do is believe, and you're right back there again. He's made it so hard for you to go to hell, and yet hell is full. It's full 'cause they just can't figure out religion, let me just. I wrote a book, I must have, I don't even remember it because I was so angry when I wrote it. I called it 'Why I Hate Religion.' And I just went at it and then finished it and said, "Well, I know they gonna talk bad about me now". I'm like, "I don't care".
All right, listen to this now because we have to find out what that is. Religion is the same thing as self-righteousness. It's the same thing as self-righteousness. It's man's pursuit to make himself right before God. That's what religion is. When you were religious, it was all about your pursuit to make yourself right with God. So you ever wanna think about, you know when I say religious, just self-righteous. It's your pursuit and your sweat, to try to make yourself right with God.
That's what religion is and I tell you what, when I was under the umbrella of religion, it was always something I had to do. It was always something I had to do. You got to do this, and if you don't do that, and then they don't even say, if you don't do that, you're gonna time out. If you don't do that, you're going to hell. If you don't do that, God just gonna send straight to hell? And then sometimes they say, you're going straight to hell. "My people are destroyed because of what they don't know".
Can I be honest with you guys, it just, it really blows my mind when I sit and see thousands of people shouting over nothing. 'Cause I'm like, "Something must be wrong with me. I just heard the same thing y'all heard and it was nothing, and y'all going crazy over it". And then you pay $700 to get in. I don't, and this for free. I don't get it. And I'm thinking, "Is that what it takes"? I hadn't figured that out yet, except maybe people are hurting so bad, they just need something to shout over. But I'm like, "I don't get it". I said, "Lord, I don't get it". Because see, I first realized it when I saw those same people in trouble and they didn't have a clue what to do. They didn't know how to actively resist the devil.