“14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the Law, do by nature the things contained in the Law, these, having not the Law, are a law unto themselves: 15 Which show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)” Romans 2:14-15
If we do not reckon with Adam’s original sin and it’s imputed sinfulness to all of mankind, our guilt as a sinner in need of a Saviour cannot be properly understood. Mankind’s moral corruption cannot be measured by actual sinful acts. Not all men are given over to uncleanness and improper conduct (Romans 1:24, 28). The sinful acts are merely the result of a sinful heart.
The depravity of a sin sick heart is still equipped with a conscience and the works of the Law written upon their heart allowing them to do that which is in accordance to God’s Word but is not good nor well pleasing because the motive is wrong. In other words, even the lost can do that which is in accordance to God’s Will but never the less, they are lost. Consider King Cyrus, the heathen king who rebuilt the Temple (Ezra 5:13) who performed according to God’s Will but was nevertheless a heathen king.
If we do not properly understand our imputed sinfulness due to the fall of Adam, we cannot properly understand the imputed Righteousness afforded to us by the Cross of Christ. Measuring our transgressions according to other’s sinfulness produces pride which falls out to unbelief in the need for Jesus’ atoning work and His Righteousness.
“23 For if any be a hearer of the Word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: 24 For he beholds himself, and goes his way, and straightway forgets what manner of man he was.” James 1:23-24
We quickly forget what manner of man we are as we look unto the transgressions of others to measure our depravity.
“Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.” Titus 1:15
Self righteousness does not reckon one’s own sinfulness but measures other’s. It defiles the mind and conscience by declaring the Cross of Christ as insufficient to fulfill our moral depravity while exalting the “good” in which we do because of our conscience and the law of God written on our hearts as sufficient to fulfill our moral depravity.
When recognizing the self righteousness of others, consider the plumb line by which their sinful ways are measured. If it’s not the Cross of Christ, we have forgotten what manner of man we are.
“Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, you which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest you also be tempted.” Galatians 6:1
-Donna Clark Warren