Thanksgiving for the Kingdom of God
The Kind of Righteousness Needed for God’s Kingdom – Part I
Scripture Reading: Matthew 5:17-20
Key Verse: Matthew 5:20
“But I warn you—unless your righteousness is better than the righteousness of the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”
Today’s Scripture Reading as well as the Key Verse are from the first sermon that Jesus preached; we call it the “Sermon on the Mount”.
It didn’t take Jesus long to start calling out the Pharisees and teachers of the religious law. It is not hard to understand why these religious leaders spent most of their time trying to discredit Jesus or trick Him into saying something that they could use against Him.
With a stinging statement, Jesus said that the righteousness of the religious leaders of that day would not be good enough to get into Heaven. Jesus warned them that they needed to repent and change.
Think about the anger it would cause if someone came today saying that the righteousness of all preachers and the teachers in our Christian schools and churches would not be good enough to get into Heaven.
What kind of righteousness did these Pharisees and teachers of the religious law have? First, their righteousness was only on the surface; they did not have righteousness in their inner life. Read how Jesus describes this type of righteousness:
“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity. Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness.” (Matthew 23:27-28 NLT)
Never worry more about what people see in us than what God sees in us! We all tend to work hard on our outward appearance but tend to get lazy about our inner disciplines of the heart and thoughts of the mind. People cannot see our inner attitudes and our lustfulness, but God sees it all.
The Psalmist David’s prayer in Psalms 139:23-24 is a good prayer for us to pray:
Search me, Oh God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts: see if there be any wicked way in me…
Tomorrow we look at more kinds of righteousness that fall short. But for today, let’s determine to be clean inside and out!
Father, please reveal any wicked ways in me. In Jesus’s Name I pray, amen.