Commenting on the religious leaders during Jesus’ day as recorded in the Gospels:
Their situation shows a special irony. Their very religiosity and the satisfactory sense that they had of their own lives were keeping them from genuine religious health. Religion can be a deadly thing.
The situation with the religious leaders during Jesus’s earthly life contains broader lessons. None of us today is exactly in the same situation, but the human tendency to pride and self-satisfaction remains in us today. When I talked about the murderers and robbers and sinners, did you see yourself as like them, as needing Jesus the physician? Then I am writing to you. Or did you see yourself as better of than they? Is your life relatively satisfactory? Then I am writing to you as well. But I am writing partly to warn you that you are in danger of having a false comfort from the achievements in your life. You seem to yourself to be “righteous,” not in need of service that Jesus came to give. But you need him nonetheless because you conceal your needs from yourself. And your peril is greater, because you do not see it…
We have failed to do what we ought. And the failures are not small, because they reveal inward corruption in our hearts: “But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person” (Matt. 15:18-20). Jesus came to heal heart corruption, not merely to reform people’s behavior. But it is not easy to accept that. If we fancy ourselves to be “righteous,” we avoid the humiliation of admitting that we are sick. That keeps us from coming to the One who is the physician.
Vern Poythress, Inerrancy and Worldview, p. 183-184