Matthew 5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 18 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. 19 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. 20 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.
The law is the measure of righteousness. Romans 7:7 …Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. 8 …For without the law sin was dead. (i.e. he was totally unaware of his sinfulness until the Holy Spirit brought the law’s demands upon him.) 12 Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. 13 Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.
But the law cannot provide righteousness. Like a mirror cannot make one look nice, it can just show if that one is nice looking or not. James 1:22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 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: 24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. 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.
The proposed righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees was but a legal morality, set forth in religious pride as being more perfect than others. Consider this passage: Luke 18:10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. 13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
The Pharisee proclaimed, as he prayed with himself, that he was better than others. But the publican, a realized, confessed sinner cried out for mercy, realizing he had no righteousness unless God would grant it. And the Lord God pronounces judgment on both, right there on the spot! The publican alone, not the self-righteous, legalistic Pharisee, was pronounced as being justified by God! Romans 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
The Jews had a legal morality which they termed “righteousness.” But it was no righteousness at all! Romans 10:1 Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. 2 For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.
But how did the Pharisees, dedicated to the study of the law of Moses, escape the law’s demands and still proclaim themselves righteous? If you will read the rest of this Matthew five chapter, it will become clear. For in the very next verse after our printed text, our Lord begins to reveal this unto us. For he states, “Ye have heard that it was said.” But then in verse 22 he declares, “But I say unto you.” And this goes on throughout the remainder of this chapter. Consider verse 27 “Ye have heard that it was said.” Then in verse 28 we read, “But I say unto you.” The first phrase reveals just how the Pharisees and all legalists interpret the law. They misinterpreted it as a dead, matter-of-fact, literal expression.
For to them murder was only the actual physical act of taking someone’s life by force. But to the Lord, who looks upon the heart, it extended to one’s hatred of his brother without a cause. And it included the ‘murder’ of another’s reputation by expressed derogatory terms. Matthew 5:22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, (“vain fellow”) shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, (as if he were an apostate), shall be in danger of hell fire.
And to the legal heart of supposed morality, adultery was only committed by the actual physical act. But the Lawgiver states that whosoever looks upon a woman with lust in his heart has committed adultery. Therefore this ‘spirituality’ of the law brings everyone into condemnation before God. This then drives one to the despair of that confessing publican, crying out to God for mercy!
This clearly reveals to us that religion always wrongly interprets the law for their own advantage. Only God himself, being Spirit, (John 4:24), can truthfully interpret His law! For he is the lawgiver! And as you read this chapter and see God’s spiritual interpretation of the law you will see that no man can ever keep it suitably before Him! And that will cause the law to fulfill its proper role in bringing all, as sinners, into the confession of the publican, crying out for mercy! For mercy is only for the guilty! And once obtained it endures for ever! Psalm 107:1 O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.
And the Pharisees’ legal righteousness of hay and stubble shall, along with him, be burned up. But that publican’s mercy from God shall stand forever! 1 Corinthians 3:12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; 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.
Jude 24 Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, 25 To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.
“Dressed in His righteousness alone;
Faultless to stand before His throne!”
Philippians 3:9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
Glory to God and the Lamb forever!
Jesus Christ alone could make sure that righteousness was ‘fulfilled’ for the entire elect of God! He began to do so at the outset of his earthly ministry. And he reported to his disciples that he had done so at the ending of that ministry. Matthew 3:14 But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? 15 And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.
Luke 24:27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. 44 And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.
And it is by his righteousness imputed to us, as our sin was imputed to him, that we have the privilege of Exceeding Righteousness! 2 Corinthians 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; (that is, ‘was conscious of no guilt’), that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. For true, God-accepted righteousness is never had by moral effort, but by Christ being given to us for our righteousness!
John the Baptist’s parents righteousness was provided by Christ alone! Romans 3:25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; Luke 1:5 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth. 6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.
All present and future believer’s righteousness is solely provided by Christ’s atoning sacrifice. Revelation 5:8 And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints. 9 And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; 10 And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
Only one ‘man’ – the God-man, Christ Jesus – ever kept the law perfectly. Therefore it is to him to whom we must come to for redemptive righteousness! Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
The animal sacrifices which Israel preformed never took away one single sin! They were never intended by God to do so! They were only to point to Christ, the coming Lamb of God, whose one sacrifice would be accepted by God for the atonement of all the sins of all believers forever!
Hebrews 10:1 ¶ For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. 2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. 3 But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. 4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. 5 Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: 6 In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure.
Hebrews 10:7 ¶ Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. 8 Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; 9 Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. 10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
Romans 5:17 For if by one man’s offence (Adam’s) death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ. 21 That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.
Christ has made us to be “servants of righteousness!” And that is servants of the righteousness which highly exceeds that of the legalistic Pharisees! Romans 6:12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. 13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. 16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? 17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. 18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.
And that is the reason that whatever crowns the redeemed may obtain, they shall be cast before his throne! For it is him alone that provided their righteousness! Revelation 4:10 The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, 11 Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.
Pastor Gene Breed
November 11, 2021