Self-Righteousness: The Last Idol of the Heart — George Whitefield

“Before [you can be sure of your peace with God] you must not only be troubled for the sins… of your nature, but likewise for the sins of your best duties and performances.

When a poor soul is somewhat awakened by the terrors of the Lord, then the poor creature, being born under the covenant of works, flies directly to a covenant of words again.  And as Adam and Eve hid themselves among the trees of the garden, and sewed fig leaves together to cover their nakedness, so the poor sinner, when awakened, flies to his duties and to his performances, to hide himself from God, and goes to patch up a righteousness of his own.

Says he, “I will be mighty good now — I will reform — I will do all I can; and then certainly Jesus Christ will have mercy on me.”

But before you can [know you are at peace with God] you must be brought to see that God may damn you for the best prayer you ever put up; you must be brought to see that all your duties — all your righteousness — as the prophet elegantly expresses it — put them all together, are so far from recommending you to God, are so far from being any motive and inducement to God to have mercy on your poor soul, that he will see them to be filthy rags, a menstrous cloth — that God hates them, and cannot but away with them, if you bring them to him in order to recommend you to his favor.

My dear friends, what is there in our performance to recommend us to God?

I can say that I cannot pray without sin — I cannot preach without sin — I can do nothing without sin; and as one expresses it: my repentance needs to be repented of, and my very tears to be washed in the precious blood of my dear Redeemer.

Our best duties are so many splendid sins.  Before you can know you are at peace with God, you must not only be made sick of your original and actual sin, but you must be made sick of your righteousness, of all your duties and your performances.

There must be a deep conviction before you can be brought out of your self-righteousness; it is the last idol taken out of your heart.

The pride of our heart will not let us submit to the righteousness of Jesus Christ.  But if you have never felt that you had not righteousness of your own, if you have never felt the deficiency of your own righteousness, you cannot come to Jesus Christ.

There are a great many now who may say, “well we believe all this,” but there is a great difference between talking and feeling.  Did you ever feel the need of a dear Redeemer?  Did you ever feel the want of Jesus Christ, upon the account of the deficiency of your own righteousness?

And can you now say in your own heart, “Lord, thou mayest justly damn me for my best duties that ever I did perform?

If you are not thus brought out of yourself, you may say to your heart, Peace! Peace!” but there is no peace.”

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