A Generation of Self-Righteous Hypocrites
There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes,
and yet is not washed from their filthiness.
1. We noted last time that vs. 11-14 are connected in thought. They each begin with the expression, ‘There is a generation…”
a. Agur uses this expression to denote the fact that such a class of people exist. Such a segment of society exists.
b. That is because the things he describes are part of human nature. It has been repeated generation after generation.
2. The particular segment of society Agur describes in vs.12 is a generation of self-righteous hypocrites.
a. They have always existed, and they always will—till glory.
b. Agur reminds us all that they are still out there. Be warned.
There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes
1. PURE: Clean; free from foreign particles or impurities; flawless; perfect; genuine; without defect of any kind; without error.
a. Lev. 11:36 – The term is used of that which is ceremonially pure and clean according to the Mosaic Law.
b. Ex. 25:11 – The term is used of pure gold – free from dross or impurity.
c. Ps. 12:7 – God’s Word is described as “pure” – free from any flaws or errors… true and right.
2. Agur states that “purity” is the assessment of SELF that this generation had.
a. They saw themselves as pure and clean before God’s Law.
b. They saw themselves as without fault.
c. They saw themselves as free from any impurity of any sort.
d. They saw themselves as flawless… perfect… impeccable.
e. They saw themselves as free from error – true and right.
3. We have all met folks from this category.
a. In every discussion on any subject, their opinion is always the correct one.
b. Whenever their behavior is questioned, they cannot acknowledge any fault… because they are without fault.
c. They love to let others know just how pure and righteous they are too. It is one of their favorite topics of conversation.
d. Without judging any individual’s heart (I don’t know anyone else’s heart)… I think it is safe to say that this kind of self righteous hypocrisy is also seen in one of the most influential aspects of American life: Hollywood!
• They go to acting school, get a few lucky (Providential) breaks, become a celebrity, and suddenly become experts on politics, ecology, energy, foreign policy, and virtually everything else.
• They tell us little people to ride bikes and save the environment, and then fly all over the world on their private, gas guzzling jets.
• They use their celebrity status to promote candidates who (not always but mostly) promote very liberal agendas.
• In their own eyes, their views and opinions are always correct. In fact, flawless!
• And anyone who disagrees is a knuckle dragger.
e. But this is not found exclusively in Hollywood.
f. Such people are found everywhere: in the office; in the home; in politics; in education; in business; in the marketplace.
g. Agur is giving us a heads-up: beware!
4. It is human nature to think this way.
a. Prov. 20:6 – “Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?”
b. Prov. 21:2 – “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts.”
c. Prov. 12:15 – “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.”
d. Prov. 16:2 – “All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the LORD weigheth the spirits.”
e. I Sam. 15:13-15 – “And Samuel came to Saul: and Saul said unto him, Blessed be thou of the LORD: I have performed the commandment of the LORD. 14And Samuel said, What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?” Saul genuinely believed that he had obeyed God… because he did obey partially. That was enough to blind him to the truth.
f. Isa. 65:5 – “Which say, Stand by thyself, come not near to me; for I am holier than thou.” This expression has become “proverbial” to describe this kind of self-righteous hypocrisy. Their attitude was repulsive and irritating to God—like getting smoke in your eyes.
g. Jeremiah 17:9 – “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Our own hearts deceive us into thinking this of self.
5. This self-righteous hypocrisy is especially repulsive in the religious realm.
a. God doesn’t expect unbelievers to live like believers. God has much higher standards and expectations for believers.
b. The believer has much more light, and is therefore judged even more harshly – according to the light that he has.
c. Luke 16:13 – The self righteous Pharisees derided Christ’s teachings. But the Lord said that they were men who “justified themselves.” God’s estimate was not the same as theirs.
d. Luke 18:11-12 – This attitude is perhaps best seen in the Pharisee in the Temple: “The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.” In his own eyes, he was pure—flawless—perfect.
e. This is an attitude that can reside in any one of us as believers.
f. It is repulsive to the lost around us.
• Be careful when sharing the gospel. Don’t come across as one who is “holier than thou.” That will turn them off instantly. Nobody wants to listen to someone with that kind of pride oozing out of them.
• When witnessing verbally, we should put ourselves on the same level as the sinner… for we too are sinners. We are sinners saved by grace, but sinners nonetheless.
• And always emphasize that we are sinners saved by GRACE – God’s unmerited, undeserved goodness. We too are worthy of eternal condemnation.
g. And of course, this kind of self-righteousness is especially repulsive to God. He hates for flesh to glory in His presence. It is as irritating to God as smoke is to our eyes.
6. Thus, Agur has described a segment of society that is repulsive to both God and man.
a. Nobody likes a self-righteous hypocrite.
b. We should also beware lest this attitude be found in our own hearts. We are all capable of this kind of blindness.
c. And the danger of this kind of egotism usually results in opposition and resistance when others (even God’s Spirit) seek to rebuke and correct you of such errors.
d. We will never be corrected from errors and faults we refuse to acknowledge exist.
And yet is not washed from their filthiness
1. What a contrast!
a. In their own eyes, they are pure and flawless.
b. In God’s eyes, they are not washed from their filth. They are not pure but very impure. They are in fact filthy!
c. It is amazing how people can genuinely believe things that are so opposite reality… opposite the truth.
d. The heart is deceitful above all things. How blind is the fallen heart to perceive our own spiritual condition.
e. We always seem to have an overly-rosy opinion of ourselves.
f. That’s why we need to rely on what GOD says about us. Our own estimate of SELF is virtually never correct.
2. Matt. 23:27 – The Scribes and Pharisees were blinded by self conceit. They were deceived into believing that all was well.
a. They saw themselves as “whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward.” They saw the outward fresh coat of paint. From the outside it looked beautiful.
b. God saw them differently: full of dead men’s bones! Lifeless…filthy…
3. Rev. 3:17 – The church at Laodicea had a glowing opinion of themselves.
a. In their own eyes, they were “rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing.”
b. But in God’s eyes, they were “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.”
c. God’s cure for such thoughts is simple: REPENT! (Rev. 3:19).
d. Their thoughts of self were wrong. They needed to change their mind and see themselves as God saw them: “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.”
e. God’s estimate is always correct.
4. In light of this truth, certain exhortations are in order:
a. Prov. 3:7 – “Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.”
5. We would do well to consider the words of the apostle John:
a. I John 1:8 – “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”
b. Man’s estimate of self is very different from God’s estimate.
c. When that is the case, we need to change our minds. Repentance is in order.