True Righteousness (Matthew 5:17-20)

WW2015-wk32Last week we learned and saw what it means to be salt and light (5:13-16). In the coming weeks we will see how this “salt and light” mantra begins within our own hearts. For this week, however, we see the standard of what this all means. In other words, if to be salt and light means living righteous lives, who can say they have done that? The Pharisees thought they had. It would be revealed, though, their righteousness was nothing more than external impressions while facing an internal death (Matthew 23:27). So, if even the major religious people of the day fell short of always living a righteous life, what could be done? If no one measured up, how could one be made right with God? What would become of the law? We find those answers in Jesus. To begin with, Jesus says, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished” (Matthew 5:17-18). Did you catch that? Jesus did not come to abolish but to fulfill. The Old Testament is important and must be studied by the Christian. Jesus does not do away with it. At the same, the Christian does not view the Old Testament without recognizing the fulfillment of Christ. Christ did not leave the law as is. He did not abolish it but He fulfilled it. His obedience, His righteousness, and His sinless life was the one we could not and have failed to live and He died the death we deserved (1 Peter 3:18). We do not relax the law of God nor teach others to do so or the consequences will be severe (5:19). We are told our righteousness has to exceed the external righteousness of the Pharisees or we will never enter of the kingdom of heaven (5:20). And that is why the answer is Jesus! He is the Righteous One who has died for the unrighteous, those who have rebelled against God (Romans 3:23). He has fulfilled the law of God, the promises of God, and is the Son of God. He is true righteousness. Only when we realize that, repent of our sinfulness and turn to Him and place our trust in His person and work, will we be able to walk down the righteous path of life. So, as we continue our expedition in Matthew 5-7, let us praise God that Jesus Christ has been perfect where we have failed and by believing in Him we can be enabled and empowered by the Holy Spirit to walk in righteousness as well.

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