Are you Self-Righteous? Take the Test!

When you reach a certain age, you have to go for periodic checkups to ensure that nasty diseases haven’t flared up since your last check up. Similarly, it’s a good idea to undergo regular scans for self-righteousness.

Like cancer and heart disease, self-righteousness is one of the biggest killers around. Self-righteousness is believing there are things you can do to make yourself pleasing to God.

What is self-righteousness?

Self-righteousness is sometimes manifested in feelings of superiority towards others. But self-righteousness can also be reflected in a low sense of self-worth.

The defining ingredient of self-righteousness is that you are providing your own standard of righteousness.

When you decide what is good and right, perhaps on the basis of your own moral judgment or law-keeping, you are eating from the wrong tree. You are usurping God’s role as the Righteous Judge. True righteousness comes from trusting in Jesus, the Righteous One (2 Cor. 5:21).

Below is a simple self-administered test to help you detect the odor of self-righteousness. Respond to each statement below by indicating true or false.

How to score: Give yourself a point for every statement you scored as true.

How to interpret your score:

Score: 0 – 1 = you’re probably not self-righteous, unless you brag about your test result.

Score 2 or more: You’re a little bit self-righteous. Don’t panic! “All of us” are self-righteous at some point (Is. 64:6). The good news is self-righteousness is a treatable disease. See Doctor Jesus straightaway.

To learn more about self-righteousness and how to treat it, check out my article, “Six Signs of a Self-Righteous Mindset.”


The Grace Commentary is a great place to find answers to Bible questions, like these:

1. What is the word of God?
2. Why say a man is justified by works and not faith alone?
3. How will God repay us according to our deeds?
4. Why didn’t the religious leaders stone Jesus like they stoned Stephen?
5. Why did Paul call himself a bond-servant if he knew he was a son?
6. What is a measure of faith?
7. How do we work out your salvation “with fear and trembling”?
8. What is the significance of David’s Key?
9. What does it mean to “the God of hope”?
10. What are the works of faith?

Add the Grace Commentary to your home screen today!

16 Comments on Are you Self-Righteous? Take the Test!

  1. Doing things for God and wanting to do more means you are a good servant who loves the Lord NOT SELF RIGHTEOUS.

    • You have a point. But so do I. Obviously, there is nothing wrong with doing the Lord’s work. Self-righteousness crops up when we put greater emphasis on what we are do doing rather than whom we are serving. Our motivation should be love for those served rather than love of the work or some misplaced sense of accomplishment. Any time we put our self – our deeds, our works – before others, we need to question our motives.

  2. The answer to the question is “ ”. A person who knows God doesn’t even ask such a question.
    The concept of righteousness and a binary alternative don’t enter the mind of those who are in God. God is who he is and we are that.

  3. “I am quick to find fault in others.”

    Your survey is faulty.

    1, 2, 5, 6, and 7 can be positive traits and are not necessarily self-righteous.

    9 and 14 are valuable traits, and when one is nearly always right, it is one’s responsibility to share that knowledge with others.

    • Pride in any form is one of the clearest signs of a self-righteous mindset. If we must boast, let us boast in the Lord. It is his work we do and his fruit we bear. Apart from him we can do nothing.

      In the parable of the Pharisee, the self-righteous man thanked God that he was not like other people. Fault-finding and never apologizing are clear indicators of self-righteousness. Nobody is perfect. We all need grace.

      I should add that getting upset with this test may be another sign of self-righteousness. The one who takes pride in himself and his accomplishments, does not like to be challenged and is quick to defend himself.

  4. Great test and great point that the test upsetting you is the best test. This is a list of things you do yourSELF to make you righteousness. True righteousness can only be received as a gift through the completed work of Jesus.

  5. Good list, except maybe “I like doing things for God”. Answering that true or false is like answering the question’ “Are you still beating your wife?” 🙂

  6. You say that low self-esteem can be a sign of self-righteousness…

    • I don’t believe I said that. Low self-esteem could be the result of many things.

      • You said, ‘Self-righteousness is sometimes manifested in feelings of superiority towards others. But self-righteousness can also be reflected in a low sense of self-worth.’

        Exactly – in my case, it stems from reading the Bible! If we believe Jesus when he says that we are evil (Matthew 7:11), we will see ourselves as evil, and will obviously have a low sense of self-worth. But perhaps Jesus’s response to our suffering would be to say, ‘If you have a low sense of self-worth, it’s because you love yourself too much, so that you think you were meant to be a good person and are sorry that you’re not. You just need to accept that you’re a filthy, disgusting vermin and that the most you can hope for is to plead with God not to send you to hell!’ (Though if we cared about justice, we ought to WANT to go to hell.)

        I can’t sleep for thinking about Jesus seeing me as evil. I can’t believe in his love – if you regard people as not just flawed or imperfect, but outright evil, it means you have written them off as beyond redemption.

        I know most people don’t see Jesus this way, and I know that it’s more probable that I am wrong than that everyone else is, but when I look at his words, I can’t not see him as someone who hates us. How does everyone else cope with this?

      • The kind of self-righteousness that manifests in a low sense of self-worth stems from refusing to believe that God loves you or that Jesus died for you. It’s choosing to wallow in self-pity when you could be walking in his grace.

        Instead of lifting a single verse out of context, look to the cross. See what Jesus did for you there. Let his actions reveal how much he loves and cares for you and renew your mind. Jesus loves you, Elizabeth. I pray that you will be rooted in his great love for you and together with all the saints will grasp its breadth, depth, and height.

  7. Self righteousness stems from the curse of condemnation,I believe it is a reaction to our general state of a sense of insecuritythat we have about God,self and others which comes from not fully knowing or understanding how much the Lord loves us all individually and collectively and what He did for us all at the cross to reconcile us all back to ABBA God because God loves us all so much.Competing,comparing,striving,labouring,low/ high self worth,people pleasing,approval seeking,self justification,shaming,blaming,naming,jealousy,snatching and grabbing,self loathing,withholding,fearing,lying,boasting,self help,jealousy of others “good fortune” ,blessings from God.So yes Paul you were right what you said at the end of your test the only cure,remedy,treatment is Doctor Jesus and a revelation of how much we are loved and why and what Jesus did for us at the cross, only He can deliver,heal us from self righteousness which is driven by our fearful need to prove somehow that look everybody we are ok and our fearful belief that we are unloveable and no good and this fearful drive comes from us as we all on some level still feel condemned,judged,wrotten and cursed due to a lack of knowledge and revelation of how much we are loved..Come Holy Spirit of God of Jesus Christ and straighten us all out by Your light of truth on how much we are all loved.

  8. I like this test. I’ve been in a season of falling in love with Jesus again, and when I look at these questions, nearly every one of them was true before this season began. I was self-righteous, from a point of low self worth. Digging into Grace has mightily blessed me and helped take the focus off of me and onto Him. And some of that has come through your blog. So thank you Paul, God bless your ministry, and continue to grace you to walk in Him. 🙂

  9. Any deficit in anything we go through is not because we deserve it or because of some Unconfessed,untackled,secret sin,it is mainly due to our incorrect belief about God,believing the wrong,bad news,report about Him rather than the good news-Jesus and His completed atonement,payment for our sin past,present and future. So self righteousness to me more often than not is believing,fearing somehow,somewhere that God is mad,displeased with us and we still owe Him something,have to pay somehow,try and make atonement somehow which can be subconscious so assuming that any struggle,hardship,deficit is because God is punishing us or we deserve to be punished,suffer,be in lack somehow as sometimes we do not understand,trust or we forget how much and what He has forgiven us for at the cross and why and what He and Jesus sacrificed,went through at the cross to give and make us righteous with the righteousness of God in Him.So the devil takes advantage of our lack of understanding,trust,confidence,acceptance of this truth and tries to deceive us that we have to work for our righteousness still rather than freely believing,receiving it by faith and that is where our problem,struggle issue lies with a sense of condemnation which generates all forms of self righteousness.

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