Jonathan Edwards uncovers the idolatry of self-righteousness:
You who trust to your own righteousness, arrogate to yourselves the honour of the greatest thing that ever God himself did…To take on yourself to work out redemption, is a greater thing than if you had taken it upon you to create the world…
Is it any wonder, then, that a self-righteous spirit is so represented in Scripture, and spoken of, as that which is most fatal to the souls of men? And is it any wonder, that Christ is represented in Scripture as being so provoked with the Pharisees and others, who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and were proud of their goodness, and thought that their own performances were a valuable price of God’s favour and love? [A History of the Work of Redemption, The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Volume 1, 581]
As Edwards demonstrates, when you are self-righteous you attempt to do the greatest thing that God has ever done, namely, redeem sinners. What greater arrogance can there be than to think that your own work of self-redemption is better than God’s work of redemption?
The idol within the heart of the self-righteous is self, as you present to God your righteousness in the place of his. It is a foolish attempt to do what God alone can do.
Therefore repent of your self-righteousness daily and trust God’s good news of redemption for the world found only in his perfectly righteous Son, Jesus.