Not too long ago, a young man showed a similar reaction. His parents had provided him with an excellent education, helped buy him a house equal to theirs, and given him and his wife a vacation to Hawaii, a new car every third year and still more, yet he failed to meet his ordinary responsibilities like a man. When the father demanded some responsible action from the young man and his wife, the son angrily rejected the advice. “What have you ever done for me all these years?” he complained. “You were always too busy working to spend time with me before, and now you want to run my life.” The son had been given a good, disciplined home life, an excellent education, as much time and attention as his father could afford, and more than a little money, but he could still complain!
The root of this moral sickness is self-righteousness. The self-righteous man sees everything wrong with God, the world, and his family, and nothing wrong with himself. The self-righteous man has a revolutionary answer for all problems: everything around him must change, and he must remain the same. By definition, he himself is the ultimate standard and judge. The social order must be overturned, his parents despised, and all authority flouted, but he insists on remaining the same: he is very pleased with his own perfection.
They are wrong, seriously and viciously wrong, these men who tell us that these revolutionists, old and young, in politics or in our schools, are fine young idealists. They are, rather, self-righteous fools, dedicated to the proposition that all evil is in the world around them and all righteousness is in themselves.
This is why Scripture is so emphatic in declaring that no man is saved by self-righteousness, “for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified” (Gal. 2:16). No man gains a do-it-yourself salvation or perfection. Salvation is the work of God in man, God’s righteousness, not man’s self-made righteousness. The saved man seeks to conform himself to the Word and will of God; the self- righteous man seeks to conform God and the world to his word and will. The self-righteous man makes his own will his law; he replaces the law of God with man-made traditions of his own devising.
Today, self-righteousness has been made a virtue, old and young busily cultivating it. We are in trouble. The world of self-righteousness is a world of anarchy. The story about the young wife is twenty years old; some, but not too many, sided with her then. The story of the young man comes from last year; most people sided with the son. After all, they said, the son is not a criminal, and the father should be grateful; who else is he going to leave his money to?
Solomon described these people long ago: “There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness” (Prov. 30:12). The destiny of such people is to be washed out of history by God’s judgment.
– A Word in Season: Volume 1
Although Dr. R. J. Rushdoony is most known for his scholarly works on theology, history, philosophy, economics, education, and statecraft, A Word in Season reveals the intense, but simple, approach to applying one’s faith to every area of life and thought. This is all done in a format of bite-sized readings on the uncompromising faith.