Belt of Truth
Knowing and Applying God's Truth to Real Life
Matthew 5:17-20 (NKJV)
"Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.
What truth is revealed? In terms of a “work-based” righteousness, most of us do not even graze the religious fervor of the scribes and Pharisees. Here’s the kicker: Unless “we” exceed “their” level of righteousness, we will not make in into the kingdom of heaven.
What is the command, wisdom or promise? I don’t believe that Jesus is somehow trying to scare “us” into working harder to attain righteousness; He is pointing His followers to a righteousness that both supersedes the law and fulfills its requirements. The promise is implied in the text. Jesus, Himself, is the key to a righteousness that will allow us to enter into heaven.
What does this mean to/for me? Jesus is the fulfillment of all the requirements of the law. Through His atoning work on the cross, Jesus paid the debt for our sins and made a righteousness that exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees available to those that believe in Him. The Apostle Paul calls this a “righteousness by faith.” (Phil. 3:9) It means that by putting my faith in Jesus, I am saved!
What action can/should I take? As Jesus takes control of my life and begins to transform through the work of the Holy Spirit (who lives in me); my life begins to produce spiritual fruit. These works of righteousness are a result of a heart change. I do righteous works, not to score points with God, I do them, because I want to do them. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control—are now becoming a part of who I am, not what I aspire to be.
As revealed by God through the Life and Message of Christ; through the wisdom of Solomon; through the letters of the Apostles; through the inspiration of God.