So often we as people look to the works of our own hands to find our righteousness. The problem with that is that the things that we do, or desire to do of our own hearts and minds or not a showing of God’s righteousness but rather, of self-righteousness, and God said that our righteousness is as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). Our hearts are desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9) and there is no good thing found in us (Romans 7:18), therefor nothing that we desire and do of our own leading or ability can be righteous or Godly. It can only be self-righteous which is not righteousness at all, in fact, it’s nothing more then idolatry (breaking the first two of the Ten Commandments.)
“For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.” – Romans 10:2-3
“Now I Paul myself beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, who in presence am base among you, but being absent am bold toward you: But I beseech you, that I may not be bold when I am present with that confidence, wherewith I think to be bold against some, which think of us as if we walked according to the flesh. For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;” – 2 Corinthians 10:1-5
You see, because our own righteousness is as filthy rags to God, and we can do no good thing of ourselves, we must humble ourselves, recognize this fact, and come into submission to the obedience of God, performing only “His” righteousness by “His” leading, even as Christ himself did.
Through out scripture we see examples of those who have chosen to “follow their hearts”, their own desires, those who put their trust in them selves and in doing so, elevated themselves (and their imaginations) above God and His perfect knowledge and plan. We have to recognize that to walk in true righteousness (which means “to be in right standing with God“), we must walk in God’s righteousness and not our own. Understand that to be in right standing with God we must seek, trust, and obey God in all things. To walk in self-righteousness we need only to seek what we want, trust in and obey only our own thoughts and desires. This is what the Angels did, who left their first estate, mentioned in 2 Peter 2:4, to invoke such a harsh punishment from God. They followed their own imaginations, thoughts, desires, and will, and did something that God never told them to do. This is also what happened to Arron’s two sons in Leviticus 10 when they offered up the strange fire to The Lord. That is to say, they did something in the house of God (and as representatives of God) that God Himself never told them to do, and therefor were struck down by God, even becoming accursed in His eyes.
“And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the Lord, which he commanded them not. And there went out fire from the Lord, and devoured them, and they died before the Lord.” – Leviticus 10:1-2
God takes these issues very seriously and we ought to do the same. Simply copying what we’ve seen others do without seeking God for what He wants us to do, or trusting in our own hearts, thoughts, and desire without regard or reverence to God’s great sovereignty, power and will, is a sure fire way to offend a God that demands humble trust, submission, and obedience to His will alone. If we are to call ourselves Christian then we ought to attain to fulfill the definition of that Name and be “like Christ“. Remember that Christ never did anything of His own will or desire, but only the will of His father (John 5:19), constantly standing against the desires and traditions of men to do so. Know that God does things that don’t make sense to us to show us that He is God and we are not. His ways are not our ways, but His ways are always perfect and never without purpose. (Isaiah 55:8). Let us lean not on our own understanding but in ALL our ways acknowledge God and His sovereign power with our obedience and trust, allowing Him alone to direct our path (Proverbs 3:5).
Understand that we can not do anything on our own or of our own without it being in rebellion to a Holy and sovereign God. Therefore we must humble ourselves, seek His will and let Him be God. We need only to obey what He says, when He says, and how He says, and we will walk in true righteousness, which is simply His righteousness manifesting through us; a willing, humble, and obedient vessel. Let us never seek to join the club of the self-righteous looking to our own understanding or the works of our own hands like those who missed Jesus while glorying in the circumcision of the flesh, but rather let us join the remnant of the obedient who show forth God’s glory through a circumcision of the heart. A removal of all flesh (or self) in submission to the will of God, not just outwardly, but inwardly, where it matters most.
“For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.” – Romans 2:28-29
“He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.” – Proverbs 28:25-26
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” – Matthew 7:21