And truly I think the more righteous any is in his own eyes before conversion, the more need he has of heart-breaking work, in order to his salvation; because a man is not by nature so easily convinced that his righteousness is to God abominable, as he is that his debauchery and profaneness is. John Bunyan – The Acceptable Sacrifice
Isaiah 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf;
and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
Our righteousness does not amount to much. In a lot of ways, our righteousness is going to hinder you from getting saved and then hinder your walk with God. I am not saying you should live a wicked life. Quite the opposite. Instead, I am saying that as Bunyan made clear, it is our view of ourself that is the problem. When we think we are better than others, we are in big trouble. It is hard to be broken when you are never wrong. The Pharisee was constantly trying to justify everything he did. The publican is asking for the mercy of God because he KNOWS what he is. The Pharisee has no clue who he really is.
More “Righteous” Before Saved
As Bunyan said, the more righteous you think you are before you are saved, the more God will need to break your heart to produce godly sorrow. I would also argue that it will cause problems after you are saved as well. The apostle Paul needed a thorn in the flesh to keep him humble so that he could figure out he was the chiefest of sinners. He had a lot of “Pharisee” in himself that needed to be cleaned out over the years. You need to get a good view of yourself. If you have been raised in the cleanest of Christian homes, never smoked, never fornicated, never cursed, etc., you have just as much to repent of as the sinner down the street. It will take a lot more convincing to show you of your sin and truly believe it in your heart. Your mind will fight you and say constantly, “I am not all that bad…” The sooner you can convince yourself you got nothing to offer God except a pile of dirty rags, the better off you will be. Let the Lord break you. Let him convince you of your sin. It is the best thing that could ever happen to you.