Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed —a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
In this passage, Jesus encourages believers to “practice” and “teach” God’s commands. From this we know that the Law is still good. It has not been done away with. It is clear from Jesus’ teaching that we cannot break God’s commandments and get by with it. It is also clear that we cannot keep them in our own strength. The commandments are not a way of salvation, but a means to show us the way to salvation through trusting in the person and work of Christ.
If, like the Pharisees, we rely on our own righteousness, we will not enter the kingdom of heaven. In the end, God does require righteousness. He is Holy and Just, and He cannot deny His own attributes. When we stand before God one day, we will be judged according to His righteousness. On that day, will you take the chance and be judged according to your own righteousness? Or in your defense will you claim the righteousness of Jesus?
This week we have looked at the relationship of the kingdom-citizen as it relates to God’s Law. We have learned the importance of being godly influences in this post-truth culture. We also learned that the importance of God’s Law is not that it is the way to earn salvation through keeping the law, but instead was designed to show us our deep spiritual need and point us to Jesus. We learned that Jesus fulfilled the Law and the prophets, that the Law is still good, and that it continues to serve out its purpose in our time.
Questions to Ponder:
How do God’s commandments integrate with the Spirit of God as you walk by faith? What is the difference between self-righteousness and Christ’s righteousness? If God were to ask you, “Why should I let you into my heaven?” how would you respond?
- Ask the Lord to help you remember that the Old Testament is the law and New Testament is the fulfillment of the law In Jesus Christ.
- Praise the Lord for His righteousness that He gave to you as you received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. He took all of your sin and condemnation, and gave you forgiveness, redemption, everlasting life, the family of God, faith, love, joy, peace, and His Holy Spirit, which now dwells inside of you and every believer.
- Thank Him that the kingdom of God is a matter of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Thank Him for that deep abiding joy.
Oh God, You are my God and there is no other. I declare that You are the One and Only True God. I worship and adore You. I hallow Your Name for You hold the stars in place and you know them each by name. You know every hair on my head. How wonderful You are Lord Jesus! You are full of grace, mercy, compassion, slow to anger and abounding in love. From the ends of the earth, to the heights of the heaven I declare Your faithfulness and revere You. I lift up my eyes toward You and bow down in holy reverence. Father, I ask that You protect me, lead me into Your truth, sanctify me and make me mature and fully assured in all of Your will. Lord, I want to please You in my heart, mind, and life by going where You go, stepping where You step, speaking and serving when You call me to, and resting in the center of Your heart. I love You Lord God. I ask all of this in the Name of Jesus Christ. Amen.