IMITATIONS - the world is full of them. You can go to the grocery store and buy imitation orange juice, imitation ice cream, imitation vanilla and artificial sweetener. Today you can get imitation eggs for breakfast and put them along side your imitation bacon and then sprinkle them with a salt substitute. You can go the jewelry store and buy imitation diamonds, sapphires and rubies. You can go to the mall and buy an imitation fur coat, imitation leather shoes and coats, or simulated oak furniture.
Imitations - they often look and feel like the real thing, and are hailed as the next best thing especially when you can't afford or shouldn't have the real thing. But more often than not you get what you pay for. If you buy an imitation, you get an imitation, something that isn't going to last as long or work as well or be as good as the real thing. In most cases, the real thing is better.
In the spiritual realm the real thing is always better. In the spiritual world there is nothing like it. Fakes and poor imitations don't make it here. In fact, false notions or imitation religions can put one’s soul at risk.
A good example of this is found in Jesus' remarks to the Pharisee and Publican found in Luke 18:9-14. The Pharisee thought he had it made with God. He saw himself as righteous and pleasing to God. The Pharisee prided himself in the keeping of the law. He boasted to God about his good deeds. From his lofty perch of self-righteousness he looked down on the publican who was also there in the temple.
There was only one problem but it was a big one. His righteousness was not real. He was only righteous in his own eyes. He saw himself as righteous because he compared himself to the righteousness of other sinners like the publican. What he needed to do was to compare himself to God. If he had done that, he would have seen how far short of perfection he had come and that he was a sinner without hope.
The publican, on the other hand, knew he was a sinner. He made no excuses for his sin for there were none that God would accept. He saw that his only chance was to throw himself at God's feet and plead for mercy.
Jesus tells us that this man went home justified. Justified means to be declared righteous by God, to be without sin before God. This was accomplished through the righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ and is ours by faith. It is real righteousness for Jesus was perfect. Put your faith in Jesus as our Savior. Trust in his righteousness, not yours. His is real! His works! His satisfies God’s demands for holiness. Nothing less will do.
Don't make the mistake the Pharisee did. Don't look for righteousness in your own good deeds. Don't think that what you can do will make you acceptable to God. You'll never be good enough. Don't take comfort by comparing yourself with others. There is only one source or real righteousness - Jesus Christ!