Have you ever wondered why it is so hard to relate to people who project a sense of moral superiority? Self righteous people focus more on their goodness than the holiness of God. One night, such a self-righteous man named Nicodemus, a ruler in the Pharisee's council, came to Jesus wondering how he might obtain eternal life. Jesus did not beat around the religious bush with the dignified gentleman, but said, "No one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again." (John 3:3) Jesus wanted Nicodemus to know hat all people must be regenerated through a new birth in the Holy Spirit in order to go to heaven. This was a new concept for Nicodemus who thought he deserved to go to heaven because of his religious piety and good works. Yet, the ruling Pharisee sense a higher authority in Jesus that caused him to question his own beliefs.
Jesus plainly spoke to the self-righteous teacher and said, "Whoever believes in Jesus Christ will not perish but will have eternal life." (John 3:16)
1. Jesus did not argue with Nicodemus about the requirements for entry into heaven, He persuasively stated the facts. Try not to get into a debate with self-righteous people who are quick to defend their positions.
2. Jesus referred to the teachings of His Father - the word of God. He knew that a man like Nicodemus would respect teaching that came from a higher authority. Self-righteous people like the security of authoritative truth that they can reference in future discussions.
3. Jesus helped Nicodemus understand that logic, academic learning and religious research can only take a person so far. To comprehend God's revelation one must trust and obey God who illuminates the mind of each person so that they can perceive the things of the Spirit of God. Natural men do not understand the supernatural truths of God - they even appear foolishness to them. Do not be surprised if self-righteous people ridicule your beliefs. People mock what they do not understand.
4. Nicodemus came to Jesus at night because he was afraid his peers might laugh at him. Even self-righteous people become ashamed and guilty in the presence of a loving and righteous person.
5. Jesus helped Nicodemus understand that a powerful Christian life is lived through the empowerment of the Spirit of God in an attitude of grace rather than a reliance on rules, regulations and law.
6. Jesus helped Nicodemus see that a deep knowledge of history, traditions and legends cannot be clearly understood without the Spirit of God to illuminate their deeper meanings. Only the Spirit of God has the ability to help people perceive how God works through situations for His sovereign purposes.
7. It is difficult for self-righteous people like Nicodemus to admit that they are sinners just like ordinary, uneducated and lower class people. It is more than symbolic that Nicodemus came to Jesus at night. He wanted no one to know that he too was a man with a lot of doubts about his salvation and eternal security
8. Jesus challenged Nicodemus by asking him, "You are Israel's teacher and do you not understand these spiritual lessons?" It is always difficult for the self-righteous to admit their insufficiencies.
9. Self-righteous people prefer to compare themselves to other ordinary people. Jesus helped Nicodemus realize that the Pharisee's righteousness was not sufficient to get them into heaven.
10. Self-righteous people would rather judge others than be judged for their own discrepancies. Jesus helped Nicodemus realize that it is better to confess one's sins and receive God's forgiveness than to live eternally in hell where a person will pay for their iniquities in agony.
11. Eventually, Nicodemus repents and places his faith in Jesus Christ to receive forgiveness for his sins. His new found faith emboldens him to reveal his loyalty to Christ amidst the jeers of his peers. When the self-righteous turn their trust over to Jesus Christ they become marvelous advocates for grace over law.
12. Nicodemus is willing to break with his old traditions by touching the dead body of Jesus and allowing himself to become ceremonially unclean. When a self-righteous person replaces a trust in God's love for their previous reliance on rules and regulations to make them holy, they make a clean break with their past.
13. Nicodemus gained new friends that were not apart of his social-economic or religious circle. When a self-righteous person grows in Christ they begin to appreciate how the love of God allows them to broaden their relationships with people of different cultures, social classes and religious backgrounds.
14. Nicodemus is a model to many of how a self-righteous elderly man can learn new ways of thinking. No one is ever to old or too self-righteous to be changed by the power, love and truth of Jesus Christ.