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Righteousness Greater Than The Religious Elites Is Required For Heaven

“For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or one stroke of a letter will pass away from the law until all things are accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commands and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever does and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:18-20 CSB


Jesus fulfilled all of the prophecy, proving He is the Messiah, and He obeyed all the laws so that He could be the perfect sacrifice for the sins of all humanity. Still, He tells His disciples that we must have a righteousness greater than the religious elite to enter into the kingdom of heaven. These religious elite were not entering the kingdom of heaven, for they rejected the Messiah, Jesus. Our greater righteousness begins with receiving Jesus as the Messiah. To enter the kingdom of heaven, we must go through Jesus. Only He lived the perfect life required by God, and only He sacrificed that life for the sins of humanity, so only He can pardon the sinner before God and appropriate to Him the righteousness required to live with a holy God for all eternity. Yet, we must also mimic the dogged determination to obey God that the religious elite modeled. They sought to please God by their own works rather than surrendering to the grace of God and accepting His work for them. Obeying God meticulously, always, faithfully, and consistently is still the disciple of Jesus’ objective, for just as He perfectly obeyed God, those who love Him also seek to perfectly obey. We obey not to earn the kingdom of heaven but to demonstrate that we are going to the kingdom of heaven where the Holy King lives, and all who will live with Him must live like Him.


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