Matthew 5:20, "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 5:17-22 (AMP)
17 Do not think that I have come to do away with or undo the Law or the Prophets; I have come not to do away with or undo but to complete and fulfill them.
18 For truly I tell you, until the sky and earth pass away and perish, not one smallest letter nor one little hook [identifying certain Hebrew letters] will pass from the Law until all things [it foreshadows] are accomplished.
19 Whoever then breaks or does away with or relaxes one of the least [important] of these commandments and teaches men so shall be called least [important] in the kingdom of heaven, but he who practices them and teaches others to do so shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness (your uprightness and your right standing with God) is more than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
21 You have heard that it was said to the men of old, You shall not kill, and whoever kills shall be liable to and unable to escape the punishment imposed by the court.
22 But I say to you that everyone who continues to be angry with his brother or harbors malice (enmity of heart) against him shall be liable to and unable to escape the punishment imposed by the court; and whoever speaks contemptuously and insultingly to his brother shall be liable to and unable to escape the punishment imposed by the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, You cursed fool! [You empty-headed idiot!] shall be liable to and unable to escape the hell (Gehenna) of fire.
What did Jesus mean? Since the Pharisees fasted twice each week, does this mean we have to fast three times each week? Since they paid tithes on everything including spices, does this mean that anyone who fails to tithe is doomed to hell?
No! Definitely not. The Pharisees' righteousness was based on their actions. Jesus is advocating a righteousness that is based on faith in what He did for us.
Trusting in our own actions will never grant us access to God. We may be better than others, but who wants to be the best sinner that ever went to hell? We have all sinned and come short of perfection which is what God requires (Rom. 3:23).
Romans 3:23 (AMP)
23 Since all have sinned and are falling short of the honor and glory which God bestows and receives.
The only one who was ever good enough to earn right standing with God is Jesus. And His righteousness is offered as a gift to anyone who will put their faith in Him as their Savior.
Jesus offers us a righteousness by faith that is so far superior to the self righteousness that the Pharisees had that there is no comparison. This is the righteousness that we need and which is available to us only through faith in Christ. "Enjoy Your Coffee"
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