Summary: This sermon deals with our righteousness which falls far too short and the righteousness available to us through faith in Christ.


MATTHEW 15:1-14 New King James

[1] Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying,

[2] "Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread."

[3] He answered and said to them, "Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition?

[4] For God commanded, saying, 'Honor your father and your mother'; and, 'He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.'

[5] But you say, 'Whoever says to his father or mother, "Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God"--

[6] then he need not honor his father or mother.' Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition.

[7] Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying:

[8] 'These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me.

[9] And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.' "

[10] When He had called the multitude to Himself, He said to them, "Hear and understand:

[11] Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man."

[12] Then His disciples came and said to Him, "Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?"

[13] But He answered and said, "Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted.

[14] Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch."

Jesus is interested in sincerity...not deception.

Jesus praises honesty....not make-believe.

That was why He clashed with the Pharisees so often.

They were religious and they lived religious lives!

They kept the Law thoroughly.

But they were phony.

Jesus made it clear: "For I say to you, that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 5:20.

So, what would it taketo have a righteousness...

that surpasses that of the Pharisees?

What does it take to be a genuine Christian?

The Bible text gives us some clues.


Let's do a little pretending this morning.

Most of you know that I have mules.

Well, suppose one day cold winter day as I am doing my chores...

I get to feeling sorry for one of my mules.

Grace has mud all over her body.

It's very cold and snowing.

Grace stands outside because the other mules won't let her in.

All the other mules try to eat up the feed...

and Grace always seems to get pushed out.

Well, I decide that I'm going to help this mule!

I take this mule into the garage.

I give it a good bath with bubble soap.

I paint her hoofs a flashy red,

I put a red bow in Grace's tail.

I put a nice hat on the mule.

Then I put one of Pat's quilts on her to keep her warm.

NOW...I'm now done with my mule Grace, yet!

We'll get back to that later!


Jesus says if we want to go to heaven...

we must have a righteousness greater than the scribes and Pharisees.

O.K. What kind of righteousness do we need?


Verse 8: 'These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me.

The Pharisees were real showmen:

They put on a big religious show!.

BUT...they were all talk...and no action.

They talked righteousness... but their hearts were evil.

Their religious actions were intended to make them look good!

In Matthew 6 Jesus gives His opinion of their religious practices:

#1 When they gave gifts to the poor they did it where people could see it.

#2 When they prayed it was to impress the people with big religious words .

#3 When they fasted it was to amaze others with their sacrifice.

Jesus said in Matthew 6:1: "Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven."

Listen to what Jesus says in Matthew 23: 27, 28:

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. Even so you too outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness."

In Luke 11:42 Jesus criticizes them for their attention to little things but ignoring the big internal qualities:

"But woe to you Pharisees! For you pay tithe of mint and rue and every kind of garden herb, and yet disregard justice and the love of God; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others."

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