Modern Pharisees: self-righteousness vs Christ-righteousness

"Righteousness" is the means by which someone becomes "a good person."
"Self-righteous" is when someone considers himself "a good person" according to a morality system he makes up for himself.

For being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, they didn’t subject themselves to the righteousness of God. ~ Romans 10:3

We could render it this way in modern English,

Because of ignoring God’s morality system, and seeking to establish their own morality system, they didn’t subject themselves to the morality system of God. ~ Romans 10:3

Many people have come up with many ways to become regarded as "a good person." This way, they can do the bad things they enjoy and still be "a good person. " However, in reality, whoever teaches a morality system different than Jesus is acting like the Pharisees.

The New Testament describes the Pharisees not simply because they were a real group of people who interacted with Jesus, but because they serve as an example of Christless moralists of every time and place.  That is to say, that we can identify Pharisee attitudes and behaviors in Christless moralists of every kind and learn from Jesus how to deal with them.  What follows is some of the identifying characteristics of the Pharisees:

  • they are opposed to the rule of the Lord Jesus Christ
  • they tie people up with rules that they invent
  • they condemn people who disobey their invented rules
  • they favor people who flatter or support them and their rules
  • they seek to be in control of others
  • they are organized into their own group
  • they portray themselves as deserving of control of things
  • they are wolves in sheeps' clothing
They love money. They set their minds on earthly things. They falsely accuse. ...

We can readily see in our own times groups of people (zealots, activists) who act this way:

  • non-Christian religious people
  • Environmental activists (people who make a morality system out of their concern for the environment)
  • Political activists (people who make a morality system out of politics and government rule)
  • LGBT activists (people who make a morality system out of their sexual orientation)
  • Money zealots (people who make a morality system out of their control of money)
  • Race-activists (Racists, people who make a morality system out of their ideas about race relations)
  • Academics (people who make a morality system out of obtaining formal education)
  • Science activists (people who make a morality system out of "Science")
  • Military zealots (people who make a morality system out of military service)