RIGHTEOUSNESS IS A GIFT
Luke 18:9 "And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:"
People who are self-righteous often despise others. No one can compare himself with God's perfect standard and feel good about himself. To trust in ourselves, we have to constantly compare ourselves with others. This breeds a critical attitude towards others that exalts self by debasing others.
No one can ever be righteous in the sight of God through his own righteousness. Our actions benefit us in relationships with people and prevent Satan from having an opportunity against us, but they cannot make us right (righteous) with God. We must trust in God and receive His gift of righteousness completely on the basis of faith in what Christ did for us. This is the truth that this parable is presenting.
Most people are unaware that there are two kinds of righteousness. Only one type of righteousness is acceptable to God. One form of righteousness is our own righteousness. These are the acts of holiness that we do in an attempt to fulfill the commands of the Old Testament law. This is an imperfect righteousness because human nature is imperfect and incapable of fulfilling the law.
God's righteousness is not something that we do, but something that we receive as a gift through faith in Christ. It's not possible to trust in our own righteousness and in God's righteousness. A person who believes that he must earn God's acceptance by his holy actions must not believe in God's righteousness, which is a gift. It has to be one or the other; we cannot mix the two. Righteousness is not what Jesus has done for us plus some minimum standard of holiness that we have to accomplish. God's righteousness is perfect. Accept this gift He offers to you.