How Much Righteousness, Part 2

For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:20

Without getting into the doctrinal application of the difference between the “kingdom of heaven” and the “kingdom of God,” we will look at this verse and what it says about righteousness.  This passage really begins in verse 17, in which Jesus says that “I am not come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.”  He then begins to talk about that law and our relationship to it.

He says in verse 20 that “except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees…”  To me, there are two ways to look at this, and I think that both of them are true.  We looked at one way yesterday, and we will look at the other today.

While the scribes and Pharisees were known as some of the most “righteous” people of their day, they were also among the biggest enemies of Jesus.  They were constantly hounding Him and trying to trap Him.  They were questioning Him and trying to catch Him in some kind of sin.  Jesus had some harsh words for them many times during His earthly ministry.  While they appeared righteous on the outside, their “righteousness” was cold, formal, outward “righteousness.”  They had nothing on the inside.

There are quite a few “scribes and Pharisees” running around today, trying to get their own righteousness by their own works.  But as we are told in Isaiah 64:6, “…all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags…”  There are many good people who do good things, but sadly, they are depending on their own inferior righteousness instead of depending on the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ.  They are depending on their outward good works instead of a relationship with Jesus that begins in the heart.

3 responses to this post.

  1. Thanks, Ben

    “While they appeared righteous on the outside, their “righteousness” was cold, formal, outward “righteousness.” They had nothing on the inside.”

    May this never be spoken of us who profess to be His!

    Blessings
    ann

    Reply

  2. Thanks Ben, for explaining the difference so well. It’s that sneaky pride stuff again, when we think we are righteous on our own. God bless you and yours today!

    Reply

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