Moralistic Therapeutic Deism Promotes Self-Righteousness

by Mike Ratliff

The five points of Moralistic Therapeutic Deism as defined by Christian Smith are these:

  1. A God exists who created and orders the world and watches over human life on earth.
  2. God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions.
  3. The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself.
  4. God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when he is needed to resolve a problem.
  5. Good people go to heaven when they die.

However, this is the basis of the “theology” predominantly preached and taught throughout the “seeker movement” as my friend Lane Chaplin made clear here. I pray that you do follow that link and read Lane’s post from 2008 and also read Christian Smith’s article from The Christian Post, which is also included at the bottom. Continue reading

A Blow at Self-Righteousness

A Sermon Delivered on Sabbath Morning, December 16th, 1860, by the
REV. C. H. Spurgeon
At Exeter Hall, Strand.

“If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me: if I say, I am perfect, it shall also prove me perverse.”—Job 9:20.

Ever since man became a sinner he has been self-righteous. When he had a righteousness of his own he never gloried of it, but ever since he has lost it, he has pretended to be the possessor of it. Those proud words which our father Adam uttered, when he sought to screen himself from the guilt of his treason against his Maker, laying the blame apparently on Eve, but really upon God who gave him the woman, were virtually a clame to blamelessness. It was but a fig leaf he could find to cover his nakedness, but how proud was he of that fig-leaf excuse, and how tenaciously did he hold to it. As it was with our first parents so is it with us: self-righteousness is born with us, and there is perhaps no sin which has so much vitality in it as the sin of righteous self. We can overcome lust itself, and anger, and the fierce passions of the will better than we can ever master the proud boastfulness which rises in our hearts and tempts us to think ourselves rich and increased in goods, while God knoweth we are naked, and poor, and miserable. Tens of thousands of sermons have been preached against self-righteousness, and yet it is as necessary to turn the great guns of the law against its walls to-day as ever it was. Martin Luther said he scarcely ever preached a sermon without inveighing against the righteousness of man, and yet, he said, “I find that still I cannot preach it down. Still men will boast in what they can do, and mistake the path to heaven to be a road paved by their own merits, and not a way besprinkled by the blood of the atonement of Jesus Christ.” My dear hearers, I cannot compliment you by imagining that all of you have been delivered from the great delusion of trusting in yourselves. The godly, those who are righteous through faith in Christ, still have to mourn that this infirmity clings to them; while as to the unconverted themselves, their besetting sin is to deny their guiltiness, to plead that they are as good as others, and to indulge still the vain and foolish hope that they shall enter into heaven from some doings, sufferings, or weepings of their own. I do not suppose there are any who are self-righteous in as bold a sense as the poor countryman I have heard of. His minister had tried to explain to him the way of salvation, but either his head was very dull, or else his soul was very hostile to the truth the minister would impart; for he so little understood what he had heard, that when the question was put, “Now then, what is the way by which you hope you can be saved before God?” the poor honest simpleton said, “Do you not think sir, if I were to sleep one cold frosty night under a hawthorn bush, that would go a great way towards it?” conceiving that his suffering might, in some degree at least, assist him in getting into heaven. You would not state your opinion in so bold a manner; you would refine it, you would gild it, you would disguise it, but it would come to the same thing after all; you would still believe that some sufferings, or believings of your own might possibly merit salvation. The Romish Church indeed, often tells this so very plainly, that we cannot think it less than profanity. I have been informed that there is in one of the Romish chapels in Cork, a monument bearing these words upon it, “I. H. S. Sacred to the memory of the benevolent Edward Molloy; a friend of humanity, the father of the poor; he employed the wealth of this world only to procure the riches of the next; and leaving a balance of merit in the book of life, he made heaven debtor to mercy. He died October 17th, 1818, aged 90.” I do not suppose that any of you will have such an epitaph on your tombstones, or ever dream of putting it as a matter of account with God, and striking a balance with him, your sins being on one side and your righteousness on the other, and hoping that a balance might remain. And yet the very same idea, only not so honestly expressed—a little more guarded, and a little more refined—the same idea, only taught to speak after a gospel dialect—is inherent in us all, and only divine grace can thoroughly cast it out of us. The sermon of this morning is intended to be another blow against our self-righteousness. If it will not die, at least let us spare no arrows against it; let us draw the bow, and if the shaft cannot penetrate its heart, it may at least stick in its flesh and help to worry it to its grave. Continue reading

Self-Righteousness and Accusing the Brethren

by Mike Ratliff

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:9-14 ESV)

Self-Righteousness: the attempt to meet God’s standards based upon one’s own merits.

In the truth war, some though they perhaps mean well, from a confused theology foundation and concept of genuine holiness and Christlikeness, are continually accusing many of us of things that seemed designed to discourage and divide. Their “standards” of Christian conduct that reveals whether a person is genuinely in God’s will or not is based on a set of values that are very hard to find in the only place that counts, the Word of God. Instead of being based in our Lord’s own teachings and those of the inspired writers of the Word of God, they have created their own standards that our enemy uses in his accusations of those who are truly obeying God in the truth war.  Continue reading


by J. C. Ryle

“He told this parable to some who trusted in themselves, that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt.” (Luke 18:9)

Are there none to whom this parable is applicable in the present day? Truly, if it were so, the ministers of Jesus would have comparatively a light employment and an idle post. We do not often meet with men who deny the divinity of Christ—or the personality of the Holy Spirit—or disbelieve the Bible—or doubt the existence of a God, and so bring upon themselves swift destruction. But, alas! We have daily proof that the disease spoken of in our text is as deep-seated and hard to cure as ever, and of all the mischievous delusions that keep men out of heaven, of all the soul-destroying snares that Satan employs to oppose Christ’s Gospel, there is none we find so dangerous, none so successful, as self-righteousness! Continue reading

Self-Righteousness and Repentance


by Mike Ratliff

“Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’” (Luke 15:25-30 ESV)

I heard part of a sermon on the radio in my pickup this afternoon that pierced my heart. I have learned to pay attention when this happens. The preacher was Dr. Richard Land and he was expounding on Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son. I began listening just as he read Luke 15:25-30. Then he gave a couple of illustrations that God used to direct my path to this post. The first illustration concerned a friend of Dr. Land who was dying. He had terminal cancer. This man was a Pastor of a church in a small town. His daughter had returned home after living a sinful debauched lifestyle. She was pregnant out of wedlock. Her intent had been to privately abort the baby, tell no one, and remain in her sinful lifestyle. However, God entered in to her heart, brought her to repentance, and sent her back home. She arrived at home as her father was dealing with his cancer.  Continue reading

No Confidence in the Flesh

When we become self-righteous due to our focus shifting from our Lord in our utter spiritual helplessness, we take on the ways of the world, but in the garb of the Christian. When we do this, and we all do it, we can find ourselves in a very bad place where we think we are serving our Lord when all we are doing is feeding our pride. Therefore, since we are living in a time of deep deception and we must be on guard constantly that we not slip into this horrid condition, let us look at what the Apostle Paul says. John Hyndrex has written a wonderful article about this. Enjoy and be blessed! – Mike Ratliff

Charles Spurgeon Quote

“I sometimes wonder that you do not get tired of my preaching, because I do nothing but hammer away on this one nail. With me it is, year after year, ‘None but Jesus! None but Jesus!’ Oh, you great saints, if you have outgrown the need of a sinner’s trust in the Lord Jesus, you have outgrown your sins, but you have also outgrown your grace, and your saintship has ruined you!”