Summary: A study on the only way that we can truly become "righteous" in God's sight.
Actions Speak Louder Than Words, Herb Miller -
2 Kentucky stable owners had developed a pretty big rivalry. One spring each of them entered a horse in a local steeplechase. Thinking it might help him outdo his friend, one of the farmers hired a professional jockey. The race began, and the 2 horses were neck and neck way out in front of the rest at the last fence, but suddenly they both fell and threw their riders.
The professional jockey remounted quickly and rode on to win the race. As he rode triumphantly to the paddock, the jockey was surprised to see the farmer who hired him, not smiling, but hopping mad.
"What's the matter?" the jockey asked. "I won, didn't I?"
"Oh, yea, you won all right, but you crossed the finish line on the wrong horse." In his hurry to remount after the fall, the jockey had jumped on the other guy’s horse.
There are a lot of people racing on what looks like the way to heaven, but they’re on the wrong horse. In our efforts to get the quick fix, we easily jump on the wrong animal, and too many aren’t realizing it until it’s too late.
“Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.”
Sound like something you’d want? I do! And in Rom. 4:6, Paul says this is speaking of the man to whom God credits righteousness.
We’re going to look into righteousness today because of *Mt 5:20.
I’m interested in entering the Kingdom, are you? And I’m interested in learning what it means to be a Kingdom kind of person here in the SOTM. And I’m real interested in what Jesus meant when He said, “Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, you will certainly not enter the Kingdom of heaven.
Righteousness -- It’s one of those words we hear a lot but don’t often think about. It means “conforming to a standard or norm” - more simply put, “being good enough for heaven”
-Also means: “to satisfy the requirement of the Law (obedience or punishment)” – you do this every time you drive a car. You satisfy the requirements of the traffic laws by obeying them or you satisfy the requirements of the law by paying a fine.
It may not be immediately clear what righteousness has to do with us going to heaven, but it does have something to do with it:
(Rom 5:21) so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
As Jesus speaks about righteousness here, He touches on 3 ways people can try to make it into heaven - 2 that don’t work, and the one way that does - 2 horses that people jump on that are the wrong horses, and one that’s right:
I. Avoiding Righteousness (v17)
This is the person who tries to make behavior and belief no issue at all: “You should be able to live in the Kingdom without rules.”
-Up to this point, Jesus has been speaking of “those” and “you,” but now He begins to invoke His own authority in life’s matters: “Truly, I say…” He’s speaking with a voice of authority, not like the other Jewish teachers – a radical! – a coup! No rules!
That’s one of the attempts to avoid righteousness: 1. How I live doesn’t matter – God’s going to let me into heaven just because He’s so good. There aren’t many Church-going people who really believe that, but there are several who accept another misconception: 2. Jesus did away with rules and now I just have to love and let the Spirit lead me.
It sounds easy enough: no standards of right and wrong means no wrongs! Legalize drugs, and drug users won’t be lawbreakers; legalize prostitution, and prostitutes won’t be arrested; provide a means to survive sex outside of marriage instead of teaching against it, and those who practice it can do so with a clear conscience.
See, if we would just not make righteousness an issue, then everyone could go to heaven!
Ill – it’s as if our lives are hung in the scales and rather than have them look bad, we remove the weights from the other side of the scale, and now we look good!
Jesus says, “Don’t think it.” That’s not My plan. Being a Kingdom person doesn’t mean I’m a person to whom righteousness doesn’t matter. Jesus had just said,
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled (5:6). And He will say, “Seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you as well. (6:33)”