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The Destiny of the Self-Righteous

Because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.
–Romans 2:5

Why is a self-righteous person guilty before God? Romans 2:1-4 tells us he is guilty because of his condemnation of others, his hypocritical conduct, and his contempt for God’s grace. What is the destiny of the self-righteous? “Because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God” (2:5).

Paul said the wrath of God is right now being poured out on all unrighteousness (1:18). Those who engage in sin are already experiencing the wrath of God. Sometimes that is through the created order. When you break God’s laws, there are consequences. Sometimes God’s wrath is expressed in direct intervention in a person’s life. But that does not preclude a day of God’s wrath that is yet to come. God’s wrath is like water building up behind a dam. One day God’s wrath is going to be poured out on all unbelievers. When is that day?

We see it in Revelation 20 in the Great White Throne Judgment. John wrote, “I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds” (20:11-12). The unbeliever has rejected the grace of God, so he will be judged by his works.

The unbeliever has hardened himself to the grace of God. He has said, “I am a good person, so I am just fine having God judge me by my works.” God says, “Fine, I will judge you by your works.” But what the unbeliever does not realize is this: the standard of judgment at the Great White Throne is not the relative righteousness of other people; it is the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ, and by that standard, all fall short of the glory of God. That is why Paul said they are “storing up wrath for [themselves] in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to each person according to his deeds” (2:5-6).

How can we escape that sure and certain day of God’s wrath? When we face God, we do not want to be dressed in unrighteousness; sin will never allow us into the presence of God. But we do not want to be dressed in self-righteousness either. Our righteousness is like a filthy rag to God (Isaiah 64:6). The key is to make sure when we face God we are dressed in Christ’s righteousness. When you trust in Christ as your Savior, God wraps you in the righteousness of His Son, Jesus Christ. Paul put it this way in Romans 5:9: “Having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.”


Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Religious … Right in Hell” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2014.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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