Monday, September 26, 2016

OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS MUST EXCEED THAT OF THE PHARISEES






By Pastor Mike



 “For I say unto you, that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:20


To realize the full implication of these words, we must look at the context of this powerful statement by looking at the three verses leading up to this statement. In Matthew 5:17-19, Jesus said “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”


In Matthew’s day, right after Jesus’ death and His resurrection, men were trying to water down righteousness and the biblical walk of faith unto holiness. A very sharp and critical name was applied to these heretics of the true faith in God. They were called antinomics , which means “no law”. They taught grace without responsibility and holiness without righteousness.

It is one of the present day church’s pitfall of weekend “Christians’ and I use that term loosely when applied to these self proclaimed Christians, “in name only.”  Our Lord and Savior’s own words forever destroy the notion that a Christian can willfully disobey and ignore the Laws and Commandments of Almighty God.


We must realize that Jesus was the Word, even before He was born to a woman here on earth. The Old Testament is the revelation of that Word. The basic Ten Commandments and the clear principles of His laws and are just as real in the New Testament, as it was in the Old Testament. Notice when Jesus spoke that verse again in Matthew 5:17, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law (the first five books of the Torah) or the prophets (the major and minor prophets of the Old Testament) I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill” (or complete them). The Son of God came not to destroy His revelation He gave to us in the Old Testament, but to supply the finishing touches, to flesh out and fully explain what it was Jehovah-Jireh had given to Godly men to write down.

When you throw out the Law of God, you basically have defiled the Holy of Holies and the tapestry that was torn from top to bottom at Jesus’ death, and was removed so that we might enter right into the throne room of God, spiritually. Holiness is non-existent in any redemptive plan if you destroy the commandments of God.

Jesus proclaims in Luke 21:33, that the whole Word of God (from Genesis to Revelation) will never pass away. He said, “heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.”


Before I fully understood the implication of these verses, I was reading in Matthew, these scripture verses and they seemed to jump out at me, to be highlighted, to be italicized, or whatever made me stop and think to myself. “what did I just read?”…I had read it many, many times and it never became real to me, until that day. Maybe it wasn’t my time, but God’s time, that He revealed this simple truth to me. Matthew 5:18 “ For verily ( as to emphasize) I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” A jot and a tittle are the smallest scripts in the Hebrew language which is the dotting of an “I” and the crossing of a “T”. If they will not pass away, even being the smallest part of the written language, God is saying that nothing, nothing of His Word will pass away.  Every one of us will be judged according to what scripture says, and you can do what you will with God’s Law, but they stand unmoved. God said, “I am the same today, yesterday, and forever. I change not.” No wonder Paul wrote in Hebrews 10:31. “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”




EXCEPT YOUR RIGHTEOUSNESS EXCEED THOSE OF THE PHARISEES. 
We all know who the Pharisees were in Jesus day and how He chided them, rebuked them for the self-righteous application of the law, (to everyone else) but not to themselves. Oh, they knew the law, backwards and forwards, but they didn’t internalize it’s message.

In our day, Jesus has laid the very foundation of how we are suppose to live our lives, by reading these verses. Grace is free, but some Christian’s make it cheap. Jesus did not come to cast off His Word, but to provide the grace to change a man’s heart. He did not come to only cover our sins, which He did, but to ultimately destroy sin, at it’s root.


The Old Testament standards are the very standards, that Jesus and the early church lived by, preached by and lived by. They gave us the New Testament for a completed interpretation of the Old Testament.

The apostle Paul wrote in Hebrews 10:16-18 “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; v. 17  And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. v. 18  Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin."
He will not remember their sin or lawbreaking anymore. The Laws of our God and Savior cannot be separated from the whole Word of God.

I have a dear brother, (and I call him brother, as that is what he is) tell me at work that we have been released from the law, because of  the sacrifice of  Jesus Christ. What he failed to realize and I hope I made in more clear to him, that we have been released from the penalty, our death sentence of transgressing that Law. He pointed out that we don’t keep the law, with all it’s laws of sacrifice, and that I had to agree with him. Yes, Jesus freed us from having to sacrifice an animal to cover our sins daily, as Jesus became our perfect sacrifice. Jesus also removed the commandments or traditions of men that had become equal to the Laws of God and His commandments, in the Pharisee system of Judaism, called the Talmud. Jesus actually purified the whole of the  Old Testament Law, by fulfilling the law of sacrifice and breaking that yoke of ceremonial sacrifice that could not, in itself, remove sin. It was to remind them and us, of the need for a Savior. We the saints of the New Covenant have entered into a new relationship with Almighty God, through His Son’s sacrifice. Paul wrote in Hebrews 
10:20 “by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is to say, His flesh. 
v. 21  And having an high priest over the house of God;
v. 22  Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water."
 Now we can come straight to the Father, through His Son.

Does that make us “loose” from the Ten Commandments and free to live as we please? NO, IT DOES NOT!! These verses are not present day “modern Protestant” theology in a lot of churches, but it is true Christianity and very Biblical. The heart and soul of a true called out child of God is a picture in purity. The commandments of God become our delight and we rejoice in the peace of a pure heart. Our righteousness according to God’s Word, is as filthy rags, but God expects us to press on to the example set by His Son, Jesus Christ. Even though we do them imperfectly, we follow them in obedience to the Words of  our God, and our Savior, for His blessings, and as a guide on how to live our life, as He lived His life. Worldly and a sinful generation love religion without holiness, but it will be wholly inadequate when the face the awesome judgment bar.

Paul writes again in 1 Corinthians 3:10-15

“According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.

V.11  For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

v.12  Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;

v.13  Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.

v.14  If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.

v.15  If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire."
If you’re not living according to the plan laid out by God and following His footsteps, the blessings and the rewards that a Christian should one should receive  by following His way of life found in  His law and His commandments, will be diminished or non-existent, but as it is written in v. 15, all that will stand is he himself and Christ in his heart…as though by fire. Everything else will be burned up. And if there is no payment for sin via the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and His resurrection, then He will lose even his life. Where is the cutoff? Better to follow God’s ways closely than to follow from afar off and be found lacking on that day or woefully deceived.

Paul wrote in Hebrews 10:28-31 “He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:

v. 29  Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?

v. 30  For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.

v. 31  It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."
Notice that in v. 29 is uses sanctified in the past tense. If a person, through willful and with forethought, decides he wants to turn against God, and I just don’t and can’t envision any true Christian doing so, if he wants to turn 180 degrees in the other direction, after the sanctification process begins, God will allow Him to do that, but with many episodes and trips behind the proverbial “woodshed”.  The only one that can take you out of God’s hand, is yourself.

EXCEPT OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS EXCEED THOSE OF THE PHARISEES.

James, the earthly brother of Jesus, wrote an incredible book that is said to be the first book of the New Testament written and it ties the commandments of the Old Testament to the NEW Testament church. James 1:21-27

“Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.

v.22  But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

v.23  For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:

v.24For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.

v.25  But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

v.26  If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain.

v.27  Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”
That is our goal and should be what drives us “Keep yourself unspotted from this world”.

James went on to say, that faith by itself, if it’s does not have good deeds, or fruit, called works by James,  then that faith is dead. I told my friend at work, that the keeping of the law by following the commandments of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, is complementory to Christian walk of faith…it’s like two sides of a weighing scale…if on one side, you have works only, they cannot save you, so your scale hits bottom. If on the other hand, you have good works, being a good, upright moral person and have no faith in Jesus Christ, then  your works are for nothing….you must have both, to have a balance in your life and reap the blessings and the reward from the Father. By doing so, you are not easily deceived by the enemy in this end of days.

James 2:17-22

v.17 "Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

v.18  Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

v.19  Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.

v.20  But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

v.21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?

v.22  Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?"
We have a whole generation of church goers, church leaders, and pastors that have been schooled to believe and practice the doctrines of lawlessness. People who have the moniker of “Christian” about them, but hold onto a sense of cheap grace. They teach and believe grace without responsibility and holiness without righteousness.  It is true that if a human being calls upon the name of the Lord, “thou shalt be saved”. But that is the beginning of your call to salvation, not it’s end. We are called to fruit worthy of repentance. It’s a lifelong process.

Some people, not all, live outside the whole of scripture and boldly state they are Christian, but get highly offended when you point out certain scriptures that don’t fit their concept of being a follower of Jesus Christ. Understand one thing, my reader, even the devil believes the Word of God, but he is certainly not a saint. He takes pleasure in perverting it, and we should not discard from living with the whole counsel of the Word of God, not just the parts we like.

THE LAW IS OUR SCHOOL MASTER

One of the apostle Paul’s great lessons is found in Romans chapter seven. Conviction of sin always precedes conversion and accepting Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. It is impossible to repent of sin, without a sense of guilt, a conviction of sin arising out of transgressing God’s Law and upon Holy Spirit conviction from God, the Holy Spirit draws a person close, and knocks upon the door of his heart, asking entrance into that person’s life. Roman’s 7:7&8 (Amplified)

v.7  "What then do we conclude? Is the Law identical with sin? Certainly not! Nevertheless, if it had not been for the Law, I should not have recognized sin {or} have known its meaning. [For instance] I would not have known about covetousness [would have had no consciousness of sin or sense of guilt] if the Law had not [repeatedly] said, You shall not covet {and} have an evil desire [for one thing and another].

v.8  But sin, finding opportunity in the commandment [to express itself], got a hold on me {and} aroused {and} stimulated all kinds of forbidden desires (lust, covetousness). For without the Law sin is dead [the sense of it is inactive and a lifeless thing]."

SIN, WHEN IDENTIFIED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT, CREATES A SENSE OF GUILT, THE FOREBODING OF ONE’S CONDITION, WITHOUT GOD. I emphasize this point, because without the Holy Spirit drawing us, and bringing to the forefront of our knowledge the transgression of His Law, can we feel convicted of the way we are living. I’ve seen people sweat, shake, and look like they are near a physical death, when the Holy Spirit is dealing with them. They have such a foreboding of their lost condition, their knowledge of being without God and the implication of a life devoid of God and His Salvation. What a person does with that calling could be a matter of life and death to that person, eternally, as we are not promised even tomorrow, just today.

Paul continues on in Romans 7:12 (Amplified version), “The Law therefore is holy, and [each] commandment is holy and just and good.

v.13  Did that which is good then prove fatal [bringing death] to me? Certainly not! It was sin, working death in me by using this good thing [as a weapon], in order that through the commandment sin might be shown up clearly to be sin, that the extreme malignity and immeasurable sinfulness of sin might plainly appear.

v.14 We know that the Law is spiritual; but I am a creature of the flesh [carnal, unspiritual], having been sold into slavery under [the control of] sin."

The apostle says that the law is holy and spiritual. Why? Not because God is magnifying sin, but that He is magnifying His grace to forgive and to cleanse. He reveals His law of holiness, through His Son that we might see our nature of sin.

EXCEPT YOUR RIGHTEOUSNESS SHALL EXCEED THOSE OF THE PHARISEES!

That continued statement sounds harsh and unfair until we discover what Jesus came in our world to accomplish. If he were telling dark sinners that they must lift themselves up to live more “righteously” than the Pharisees by works ONLY, then he would have been a taskmaster, and not a Savior. But, His death was already sealed in the plan of God and Jesus Christ knew well the glory of His suffering. He came to break the powers of sin and to create a brand new family called the church.

Jesus came, lived, died and rose again, that he might destroy the “works of the devil”. John wrote in 1John 3:8 “He that committeth sin is of the devil: for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son  of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.”




John used the word “manifested” as he was speaking beyond the physical birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. God  has sent His Son into the world by a series of phophecies and miraculous events which made His life and death a divine occasion. The life and death of Jesus Christ was triumph over every limitation and calamity of this human life. He came out of eternity, gave up His glory, to enter into our little, limited world to bring an end to Satan’s schemes and plans. The result was the redemption of the highest level possible to the human family. We were redeemed, transformed  into new creatures, filled with His Holy Spirit, to live and walk in newness of life far beyond what the Pharisees practiced in their concept of religion. Someday we will be translated into a newness of life complete for all eternity.

CONCLUSION

The apostle Paul could not have echoed the idea of Jesus Christ and what He means to each and everyone of us by a second letter to the church of Corinth.2 Corinthians 5:17-18,

"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

v.18  And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;"

We are all new creatures in Christ Jesus. We have been given a deposit of redemption into a heavenly Family of God. We walk no more by the world’s bondage. We have been forgiven of our past transgressions against His Holy Law, and now we walk in obedience to His way of life by following His Commandments, His judgements, His Law of Liberty by faith, not by site, as evidenced by our good deeds and works to help others. Unless our faith, and our righteousness :

EXCEEDS THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE PHARISEES, WE WILL NOT SEE THE KINGDOM OF GOD


Understand the implications. Grace is a free gift of mercy. It produces a new creature, one prone to good works and living as Jesus did, without sin as humanly possible. Living a righteous life following Jesus produces good fruit, good works, NOT the other way around. No matter of works can save you, but it is the evidence that you believed and accepted His gift of grace and are a changed person, dead to the lusts of this world.
Dead to this world, and raised to newness of life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let each of us live like it, as Jesus is coming soon...Be ready.
This is pastor Mike Taylor praying for your being ready to meet our Savior, by accepting His free gift of salvation. If you need counseling, prayer, or just a listening ear, email me at realteam1999@sbcglobal.net,

God bless you, till we meet at Jesus Feet.





Comments

05/20/2013 7:38pm
This srticle is so good I wanted to copy it to share with friends who do not have a computer. Why don't you print it so it can be copied. Thank you. A. M. Mprrison
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Judy
05/21/2013 10:31am
May you be exceedingly blessed for teaching TRUTH, Mike

... even so, rejoice in persecution ... Acts 16
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