Joyce Meyer - Self-Righteousness
So we're going to talk this weekend about some self-sins. And I didn't call it that because I knew nobody would buy the series after it was over, so we're calling it "Self-help, how to escape self-overload and live a life of fulfillment". And we're going to talk about four things this weekend in four different sessions: self-righteousness, which is a sin because it's not the will of God: self-confidence, which is also not the will of God. And some of you are thinking, "Well, I thought I was supposed to be confident". Well, you are, but confident in God, not confident in yourself. And self-pity. Hmm. No, I'm not telling you which session I'm teaching what in. And then self-centeredness. But first I want to start with just a little foundation about balance.
Let's go to 1 Peter chapter 5, verse 8. This is a scripture that God put before me early in my walk with him, and I studied it and really got a lot out of it, especially in the amplified Bible. Now you know I got a new Bible here, so now all these pages are going to stick together. "Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times, for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams about like a lion roaring in fierce hunger, seeking someone to seize upon and devour".
Now you know, maintaining balance in our lives is quite a challenge. Doing enough, but not doing too much. Doing for other people, but not getting to the point where you never do anything for yourself and you burn yourself out. Working, but also resting. Giving, but also saving and spending. We should give to other people, but you should spend some of your money on yourself, you should save some of it because there's no balance if we just do all of one and none of the other. To be healthy, we need to eat balanced meals. So balance is a big deal in life.
And you know, one of the questions that people ask me all the time, especially when I do television interviews or radio interviews or magazine interviews, is, "How do you keep your priorities straight with a schedule like yours"? And one time I said, "I'm always straightening them out". And I thought, you know what? That's the best answer because I don't know that anybody ever just gets all their priorities straight and then they just keep them straight the whole time. I think we're always having to relook at things in our life and readjust and readapt. So if I'm going to talk about this for a few minutes, this would just be a good time for you to ask yourself, is there any area of my life where I'm out of balance?
We're going to do a lot of ask yourself tonight. I don't want you just to listen to me. I want you to ask yourself some questions or at least write the questions down and go home and have a meeting with yourself. A meeting with yourself can produce a lot. I can tell you it's just amazing because there's really no point in just coming to something like this just to see what I look like in real life. If you're going to come, you need to come because you want to grow, you want to change, and you want your life to be better and you want to glorify God more.
So just ask yourself, is there any area of my life where I'm out of balance? Because this scripture says that, "Be well balanced, for your adversary, the devil, roams about like a lion roaring in fierce hunger, seeking someone to seize upon and devour". So he has an open door to people that are out of balance. And we tend to be extreme. And so like tonight, I'm going to teach you about self-righteousness. Well, that doesn't mean that you don't try to do things right. It just means that you know that no matter how much you do right, you can never be right with God by what you do, that your righteousness has to come from him as a gift. And then out of knowing who you are in him, you strive to do the right thing because you love him, not to get him to love you.
Now I'll say it again, so don't worry about that, a few times. Now what I just spit out of my mouth took me probably about 20 years to learn because we really want to impress people and we really want to impress ourselves. You know, a lot of what we do we do just to impress ourselves. You ever find yourself praying out loud in front of a group of people and you realize you're not even really talking to God? You're just praying to impress the people. No? Well, I have. I guess I'm in worse condition than you, I don't know. But we need to have a balanced attitude towards self. Before I ever start off into these self-sins, you need to have a balanced attitude towards self.
So you need to love yourself, but not be in love with yourself. There's a difference. You want to take care of yourself. You want to respect yourself. You want to invest in yourself. You want to do things for yourself. But yet you don't want to be selfish and self-centered. There's a big difference. Matthew 22:36 through 40 says, "The most important commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. And the second is like it. You shall love your neighbor as you love yourself".
And it was a big breakthrough for me when I realized many years ago that I really could not love anybody else until I learned how to love myself. And I didn't like me. And if you don't like you, you are in for a rough road in life because, as I say all the time, everywhere you go, there you are. You know, I mean, I don't even look forward to having a cup of coffee with somebody I don't like, let alone spending a lifetime with them. And I think a lot of times we just spend our lifetime not liking ourself, and comparing and competing and doing all kinds of things. And if I don't teach you that you need to have a good relationship with yourself, then when I start talking later about not being selfish and self-centered, I can just drive you into more of a problem than what you've already got.
You need to be balanced. Don't be in love with yourself, but love yourself. Don't just do things for yourself to the exclusion of never doing anything for anybody else, but don't just do everything for everybody else and never do anything for yourself. Because the greatest gift that you can give the world is a healthy you. There's nothing worse than trying to be in a relationship with somebody that is emotionally dysfunctional because they don't have any balance in their lives. The Bible says in 1 Peter 3:11 that we are to pursue peace with God, peace with ourselves, and peace with our fellow man. Look at the bottom part of that scripture. "Do not merely desire peaceful relations with God and with your fellow man, and with yourself, but pursue and go after them"!
So ask yourself, are you at peace with yourself? Some of these questions that I'm going to tell you to ask yourself may be things that you've never even taken the time to ask yourself. Do you have a good relationship with yourself? Do you enjoy spending time with yourself? Or do you always have to have something going on around you, some kind of noise going on, something happening, people around all the time, the tv on, you know, something happening all the time? And you know, not always. I mean, it can just be something you've done as a habit, but sometimes people just don't want to spend time with themselves.
It's very important if you've never done it that sometime this weekend, you come to terms of peace with yourself. And the only way you can do that is to learn how to receive the forgiveness of God for all the things that you've done wrong in the past. And when we receive God's forgiveness, that means that we forgive ourselves. We take that forgiveness and we say, "Okay, I'm going to let it go too". It means that you don't spend your life feeling guilty and condemned and feeling ashamed. We should feel disappointed when we make mistakes, but we don't have to get buried under that disappointment and just constantly feel like, "I can never do anything right. I can never do anything right".
For years and years, I had a record playing in my head, "What's wrong with me? What's wrong with me? What's wrong with me? What's wrong with me"? Anybody else have that record at home? And we look at other people and we compare ourselves with them and we think, "Well, why aren't I like that? Why can't I do that"? If you really like who you are, it'll set you free from comparing yourself with other people, from competing with other people, from the tyranny of perfectionism of always thinking that you have to do everything perfect all the time. We need balance. It's really impossible to love other people, which should be the number one goal of every believer. That is our goal as a believer, to walk in faith and to walk in love. That's it.
If you want to just narrow it down to a little capsule that you can go home with, what is this all about, you know, what am I supposed to be doing as a Christian: walk in faith, walk in love. Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. Love your neighbor as you love yourself. God loves you, you receive his love, you love him back. Then out of that, you can finally begin to love other people. Unhealthy, emotionally dysfunctional people cannot really love other people properly because what they do, even the good things that they do, they're doing to get something or to be well thought of or to be admired rather than just to give something. And real love just is pure giving.
You're giving not to get something, not to be admired, not to be appreciated, not for any other ulterior motive. You're just going what God does. You just love because, and you do it unconditionally. And we all know that takes a lifetime to keep learning and growing in. But it's a great pursuit. I would certainly rather be pursuing learning how to love other people than pursuing getting my own way all the time, which I wasted a lot of years doing, and finally found out that no matter how much I try to make myself happy, I cannot make myself happy by trying to get myself everything that myself wants. Has anybody else learned that?
There's so many wonderful, amazing things that Jesus sets us free from. Mark chapter 8, verses 34 and 35, "And Jesus called to him the throng with his disciples and he said unto them, 'if anyone intends to come after me, let him deny himself forget himself, ignore himself, disown and lose sight of himself and all of his own interests and take up his cross and follow me.'" Hmm, nobody's cheering. I don't care where I read that scripture, nobody cheers. That's a hard scripture for a Christian to read.
Now if I would have said all things are possible with God, you would have just screamed your heads off. But now see, even that scripture, that doesn't mean that you're not to take care of yourself or that you're to never do anything for yourself. It means that we don't live for self. And if you don't remember anything else that I said tonight, remember this. The cross that God asks us to bear, take up your cross and follow me, it's not tragedy and misery and not having our needs met and always having pain in our life somewhere. Although we may go through some of that, we should be going through. Yea, through you go through the valley of the shadow of death. When you go through the fire, when you go through the flood.
So anytime you hear yourself saying... Somebody says, "How are you"? You say, "Well, I'm going through," be happy you're going through, that you're not stuck in the middle in something you're never going to get out of. But say, "Praise God, I'm going through. And then on top of that, I'm not alone. God's going through it with me". But we're not to live our life selfishly and self-centered. The cross that God asks us to bear is to live an unselfish life. Just to not have me as the center of my life and to actually get up every day, maybe thinking on purpose about what I might be able to do for somebody else, to make their life better instead of being mad at everybody I know because they're not making me feel good. I can teach this. I got lots of experience in this particular subject matter, amen?
I might as well just say it from the beginning, you cannot be selfish and happy. It just won't work. You can go ahead and try if you want to for a few more years, but you'll come back around to knowing you cannot be selfish and happy. And to be honest, some of you may have traveled many miles and spent money for hotels just to hear that. "God, I don't understand what's wrong with my life. I'm just not happy and I don't know what's wrong". Well, is it even remotely possible that you're not happy because you spend all your time trying to make you happy? No, maybe? Help me, yes? I mean, could that even remotely be a possibility? Okay, so, self. God wants us to forget about ourselves, and when we do, he'll take care of us. Now that doesn't mean you never do anything for yourself. It doesn't mean you never think about yourself. But it does mean that self is not our focus.
Now we're gonna talk about what I'm gonna call some of the self-sins. And some of them are things that you might not even look at as sin. I know there was certainly a time in my life when I didn't. And the first one I want to dive into is self-righteousness. We have a deep need to feel right. We're created by God for love and we're not created to feel wrong about ourselves, to feel like something is wrong with us all the time. We're not created to compare and compete. We're created to be unique, to enjoy ourselves, to enjoy the life that God gives us. And we're created to have a sensing that everything's okay. You know, I'm not perfect, but it's okay. I'm all right. God loves me. But he doesn't want us to get that sensing from ourself. He wants us to get it from who we are in him. Amen?
Something that God gave me many, many years ago, and I say this often, is if you're ever gonna have any peace with God, because righteousness leads to peace. If you don't have righteousness, you're never going to have peace. You don't have peace, you're not going to have joy. Romans 14:17 says, "The Kingdom of God is not meat and drink," it's not things, "It is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost". And I believe it comes in that order. How can you have joy if you have no peace? And how can you have peace if you're against yourself all the time and always, always, always feeling like something's wrong with you? And then trying harder and harder and harder to do right stuff all the time and failing every day? And then going back to feeling guilty and bad about yourself?
So I hope to get some of you off that treadmill because I lived on it far, far, far too long. You know, I hope I preach right tonight and say everything right, but chances are I may not. But you know what? I'm still right with God, amen? Because me preaching doesn't make me righteous. I'm made right with God because of faith in Jesus Christ, and faith alone in Jesus Christ can make us right with God and justify us. "Well, Joyce, aren't we supposed to try to do right"? Well, of course I'm gonna do my best to preach right tonight, but you see, here's the thing we have to understand. God is so right, he is just so unbelievably right, like we can't even measure his rightness. We could never understand it. So our best effort at being right can never still suit him because of how right he is.
God is so holy that no matter how good we are, his holiness would burn us up if we got in his presence if he didn't give us something. And so he gives us Jesus, who is God himself, the all-righteous one, who paid for all of our sins. And he says, "Now you can come to me through him and I'll receive you as being just as right as he was". You know, the more I know about God, the harder time I'm having understanding why anybody would not want to believe in God. I mean, it's just too late for me. I mean, I've seen too much and tasted too much of the goodness of God to ever go back, but I just feel so sorry for people and the conditions in the world today.
And all the people that are trying to get rid of God and saying they don't believe in God, I mean, it's just like, what in the world? Do you have anything that's better that's replacing what we've got? No. Man, I don't have to get up and compare myself with anybody else. I'm free to be me. I can get on television and make a mistake in front of a billion people and still say, "God still loves me. I'm still right with him. Hope you still like me, but if you don't, I can survive even that". Amen? Now it took me a long time to get here.
Self-righteousness is believing we are, or desiring to be, right with God through our own works. And we all do it until we learn better because we think God expects it. If I read my Bible through every year, then God'll be pleased. Well, do you know what? We don't read our Bible to please God. We read it to learn. I don't get some kind of checkMark on my heavenly calendar. "Oh, look at how good Joyce is today. Look at that. She read her Bible today". Oh, and God says now to the Holy Ghost, "I feel so much better that Joyce read her Bible today". That has nothing to do with it. I need to read it so I don't live stupid. I need to get in here and find out what makes sense. I don't have to read it to be right with God. God's not mad at me if I don't read the Bible. But this is the only thing that's truth and wisdom, so if you're going to bother to read anything, I certainly would read this over the newspaper. I certainly would read this over some of the junky magazines that are out there to read, amen?
"Well, I tried to read the Bible once and I couldn't understand it". Well, maybe you started in Leviticus or something, I don't know. Give it another try and start in the book of John. We think sometimes, "Well, I'll be right. I'll be right. The world will see me as right if I have enough education". That's why God uses people that it just scrambles other people's brains when you see God using them.
When we understand what God has done for us in Christ, we are set free from the law and the tyranny of the law, and all the have-to's and the should's and the ought's and the obligations and the comparisons and the competitions. And we're free to get up every day, and yes, every day we try to do the right thing, but not because we have to to get God to love us. Just because we love him so much and appreciate what he's done for us so much that how could I possibly get up and do anything other than my best, even though I know my best is never going to be good enough? Whoo!
And can I tell you something? You can go to church for 30 years and never hear anything like this. Cause I went for years and years and years and never heard anything like this. I knew doctrine. I knew the rules I was supposed to follow. And thankfully, I was in a church that really taught a great message about salvation through grace, but I didn't know that I had been made right with God through the blood of Christ. I didn't know that. I confessed every week that I was a poor, miserable sinner.
You say, "Well, aren't you"? Well, yes, I sin, you sin. And they are pretty poor, miserable sins. That's what I do, but my who is the righteousness of God in Christ. Not because I do things right. I sin, but I believe, I believe that Christ did for me what I could not do for myself. And I respond every day by trying to help people, by trying to be a good little girl because I love God not because I have to, because I want to. And you know what? When you start getting up every day and your whole heart is you want to please God, you really think he's going to be mad at you when you make little mistakes?
I remember when my son, who's now 34, he thought he was going to help me one day. He was really little, and he got a bucket of water and got some soap in it somehow and got a rag and got out on the front porch. And we had a big bay window out there and he slopped that stuff all over that window, and took a towel and dried it and came and found me. "Mommy, mommy, I washed the window for you". He took me in there, he was so happy about his job. And I looked at it and my heart just went... "Thank you, sweetheart. Oh, that was so sweet of you". And then you go clean the mess up when they're not looking.
Well, you know what? God cleans a lot of our messes up when we're not looking, while we're sleeping at night. Let me tell you something. This is all about heart relationship. I'm talking about, now you know what? This is not for you tonight if you don't really love God. But if you really, really, really love God, and you know what, you probably wouldn't be here tonight and those of you watching television, you would have already turned the program off probably if you didn't care anything about trying to get your life right with God. And the thing is you can't get it right, but you can receive the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:21, "He that knew no sin became sin that we might be made the righteousness of God in Christ". Every day of my life, I say, "I am the righteousness of God in Christ". And I have made all kinds of religious people mad saying it, but the Bible says it and I am going to say what the word says. I am not righteous because I do everything right. My goodness, how could we do everything right? The Bible says in order to do that, you would have to not sin in thought, word, or deed. Well, I can't even get out of bed in the morning before I've already messed all that up. Thought, word, or deed. Thought! Whoo! My goodness. We need a Savior. We desperately need a Savior.
Now watch this, you're gonna like this. Romans 3:20, "For no person, no person will be justified (made righteous, acquitted, and judged acceptable) in his sight by observing the works prescribed by the law". Whatever that law is. You know what? You can make a law out of exercising. You can. You can make a law of not eating certain things. And the thing is when we make a law out of something for ourself, then we always try to put our law on everybody else. And you know, one of the ways that you can tell when something's become a law for you, if you start having a judgmental attitude toward other people who aren't doing it.
You know, sister Super Christian. You try to have breakfast with her and... She happens to be anointed by God as an intercessor, which is a gift. And so she asks you, of course, about your prayer life. And you're a little new believer and you're praying about 3 minutes every morning and you're just so happy about it. You and God are just getting on really good and, man, you just got it going on. She says, "Oh, you only pray 3 minutes"? Now right away you're going like, "Well, how long do you pray"? "Oh, well, I get up at 5 every morning and pray till 9".
So then maybe you do what I did when I heard somebody teach that. Actually came to the church and taught how she prayed 4 hours every day. And she did. And God had gifted her to do it the day she was saved. She went and found a church and started praying, and prayed 4 hours every day the rest of her life. Well, that was a gift just like I have the gift to stand up here and do what I'm doing. But I decided because she was doing it and she seemed powerful, that I was going to do it. So I got me a clock, I got me a room. And, I made an announcement. And that's where we make our biggest mistake. I made an announcement, "I am going to start praying 4 hours every day. Children, husband, do not darken that door. I will be in there being spiritual".
And I had my clock there and, I mean, I prayed about everything that I knew how to pray about. I was walking and praying loud. And I looked at my clock and 5 minutes had gone by. I had 3 hours and 55 minutes left and I didn't know anything else. So I decided to lay before the Lord. And, of course, I fell asleep. Because, most people who get up at 5 do. Except now I do get up at 5 and it's funny, now I get up at 5 because I want to go spend time with the Lord. But I will not tell people how much time I spend in prayer or how much time I... I will not tell you. Don't even bother asking me. You know why? Because I don't want you to compare yourself to me or anybody else. I want you to get your own relationship with God.
My goodness, the stuff that we do trying to earn and deserve something from God. And you know you got a problem when somebody that is much less, "Spiritual," than you gets what you've been believing God for. Come on now. "Well. That person doesn't even go to early morning prayer meeting. And, now they're getting married to the best looking guy in the church. I've been praying my guts out for 20 years just to get a date". Hey, the minute we get mad at somebody who is getting blessed more than we are, and we're mad about it because they're not as spiritual as we are, "The law..". Whoo, Jesus, we're having fun.
Alright. Now, "No person will be justified (made right, acquitted, and judged acceptable) in his sight by observing the works prescribed by the law. For the real function of the law," the whole reason why God gave it, "Is to make men recognize and be conscious of sin not mere perception, but an acquaintance with sin which works toward repentance, faith, and holy character". So the only reason why God gave the law was to say, "Okay, here's what you have to do if you want to be acceptable to me by your works. Now go ahead and try". "Oh God, I'm so sick and tired of this. I don't know what's wrong. Oh God, I give up. I just can't do this anymore. I tell ya, I don't know what the problem is. I go to church, I give, I do everything they tell me to do, and nothing's happening. God, I'm so sick and tired of this. I'm so sick and tired of this. God, you got to do something. If you don't do something, I'm going to give up".
Sound like anybody you know? Oh man, I carried on like that for years and years and years. And one day I fell on the floor, got very dramatic... Which God don't care about any of that, by the way. It was like, "I give up. I just give up". So help me, I heard the Holy Spirit say rather loudly, "Really"? I'm thinking, "Well, you sound kind of excited". And this was just what I knew. "Joyce, the only time I really get to work in your life are those few moments in time when you've exhausted yourself to the point where you give up". Man, I got to keep working out just to get up off of this floor.
Verse 21, "But now the righteousness of God has been revealed independently and altogether apart from the law, although actually it is attested by the law and the prophets. Namely, the righteousness of God which comes by believing with personal trust and confident reliance on Jesus Christ (the Messiah). And it is meant for all who believe. For there is no distinction". Doesn't matter what side of the tracks you were born on. Doesn't matter what your race is. It doesn't matter what your family bloodline is. Doesn't matter how much education you got.
Come on. "Since all have sinned and are falling short of the glory of God". I love that. It doesn't say all have sinned and have fallen, it says are falling. "All have sinned and are falling short of the glory of God. All are justified and made upright and put in right standing with God". Come on, somebody give God a big praise. My, my, my, my, my, my, my.
"Well, Joyce, shouldn't we try to do what's right"? And we just got to keep going back here. Absolutely. And you know what? The closer you get to God, the more often and the quicker you're going to realize when you do something wrong. But now here's what we have to understand. God does not condemn us. He convicts us. There is a big difference. And conviction is meant to lead us to repentance, where condemnation pushes us down into the sin and overloads us with a burden that we can never do anything about. I mean, you should be glad that God has determined to never leave you alone. God loves you too much to leave you the way you are. The worst thing that could happen to me would be to be left the way I am right now.
"God, please keep working in my life and changing me". Not because I have to change any more to go to heaven. That's already a done deal, bought and paid for. Honey, I got my ticket. His name is Jesus. Amen? You say, "Well, doesn't that kind of preaching just give people a license to sin"? Nope. If anything, it makes you want to sin less than ever because you just are so in love with Jesus that you're like, now, you know, you may come back at another time and hear me talk about, you know, trying to do right.
And that's right, we need all the messages. We need them all. But what I'm telling you is self-righteousness is a sin. God hates self-righteousness and he despises what the Bible calls, "Works of the flesh," which is me working, trying to earn or deserve something from God. "Well, I deserve. Well, I should have that. Well, why are you doing that for them and not for me? Well, I give more than they do, and they got a raise at work and I didn't get one. Well, I, I, I, I". Instead we say, "God, I trust you". Philippians 3:4 through 8. "Though for myself," the apostle Paul is saying, "I have at least grounds to rely on the flesh".
Well, he starts out in verse 3 and says, "Put no confidence in the flesh". Then he says, "Now as for me, I at least have grounds to rely on the flesh. If any other man considers that he has or seems to have reason to rely on the flesh and his physical and outward advantages, I have more". So Paul's saying, "Look, I'm better than all of you". And I mean, he's looking at it from the standpoint of following the law. He said, "I got all of you beat. Circumcised when I was eight days old, the race of Israel, the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew, the son of Hebrews. As to observing the law, I was of the party of the pharisees. As to my zeal, I was a persecutor of the church". He said, "I was so religious, I was hating people that weren't doing it like I was". "And by the law's standard of righteousness (supposed)," see, "(supposed justice, uprightness, and right standing with God) I was proven to be blameless and no fault was found in me". Verse 7, "But whatever former things I had that might have been a gain to me, I have come now to consider as one combined loss for Christ's sake".
So Paul said in order to have this relationship with Christ, I've had to gather up all of my works and all of these things that I worked so hard to be proud of myself, and I got to be willing to get rid of all that and say, "None of that does me any good". You can have 20 degrees and I can have none. I got a bunch, but they were all given to me, which is the coolest way to get them, let me tell you. The point I'm trying to make is Paul said, "I got it all. I had every degree". And he said, "But I got to tell you that it's worth nothing. It's worth nothing as far as me being right with God". It might help you get a better job with a little more money, but it doesn't make you any more right with God than somebody who didn't get through the eighth grade.
This is the point we're making. I'm not saying that those things aren't valuable, but what I am saying is it doesn't make us any more right with God. I am only right with God because I have put my faith in Jesus Christ and Jesus alone. "Yes, furthermore, I count everything as loss compared to the possession of the priceless privilege (the overwhelming preciousness, the surpassing worth)". Boy, he gets long here. "(And the supreme advantage) of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord". Don't lose me.
There's something good coming. "And of progressively becoming more deeply and intimately acquainted with him of perceiving and recognizing. I have lost everything," are you ready? "And I consider it all to be mere rubbish". The amplified Bible is being nice. Another translation says, "Dung". In other words laughing, I consider it all to be poo-poo. Now I know your preachers normally don't do that kind of stuff, but I want you to get this. Paul's saying it's all just nothing but trash. It's useless. It's worthless. It's a stinking mess compared to the priceless privilege of knowing him, of knowing Christ as my Savior and my Lord. Somebody get up on your feet and shout. Yay, hallelujah, whoo!