“For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:20)
This past Sunday, Jesus described what that looks like in terms of murder and adultery.
We are not righteous just because we havenâ€™t murdered anyone. No, we murder when we are selfishly and proudly angry. We murder when we see others as an inconvenience and belittle them. Instead of murdering with our hearts, we are called to love and pursue. We are called to pursue reconciliation, especially with those who have something against us.
Also, we are not righteous just because we havenâ€™t committed adultery. No, we commit adultery when we lust with our hearts. Jesus says that itâ€™s better to tear out our eye and cut off our hands than to commit this transgression. Jesus is saying that this sin is so serious that itâ€™s better to cut these body parts off than for us to go to hell in sin.
If we are not as righteous as Jesus describes here, we will never enter the kingdom of heaven by our own merit.
BAD NEWS: We do not have this perfect righteousness within ourselves.
GOOD NEWS: We know someone who does (Jesus Christ), and God gives us His righteousness.
How can His righteousness be put into our account? What happens to our sin? The answer is in the Gospel. We can have the righteousness of Christ, because Christ took on our condemnation.
He was never sinfully angry. He never murdered in His deeds and in His heart. Yet, He was the One who was murdered on our behalf. He did not leave the sacrifice at the altar in order that we can be reconciled. No, He was the sacrifice at the altar so that we can be reconciled.
He never committed adultery both in deed and in His heart. Yet, it wasnâ€™t His eye that was torn out. It wasnâ€™t His hand that was cut off. It was His flesh that was torn apart. It was Him that was cut off on the cross. He was cut off from His people. He was cut off from God Himself.
Jesusâ€™ life is the only perfect righteousness that is worthy enough to enter the kingdom of heaven. With this righteousness, we are able to receive the kingdom of heaven, because Jesus went through hell on the cross for us. Now, because of Christ, we are able to obey. We are able to love and pursue. We are able to be faithful.
My friends, know that you are not righteous and that you will never be righteous within yourself. Mourn over your sin. Be poor in spirit. Cling to our Savior, Jesus Christ, and receive His righteousness.
Enter into His Kingdom, and, by His power, do not murder with your hands or your hearts. By His power, do not commit adultery in your deeds or in your desires. And through your life, may God be glorified.
We have Friday Night Studies on Romans tomorrow night. Hope to see you there! If not, prepare your hearts for the Lordâ€™s Day worship this Sunday. Pray for yourselves, for one another, and for the world.
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