Matthew 5:17-20 – Outwardly Appear Righteous

Matthew 5:17-20
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.

-In order to inherit the Kingdom of God, our righteousness must exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees.  What did Jesus mean by this?  Consider His appraisal of the scribes and Pharisees in some of their other encounters and we’ll get the proper perspective.  In speaking to these groups in Matthew 23, Jesus proclaimed, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.” (Matthew 23:27-28) Despite their apparent holiness, the Scribes and Pharisees had nothing but an outward appearance, a show of piety.  A show of piety cannot inherit the Kingdom of God and so we must do better.  Righteousness must go beyond our countenance or presentation and be manifested in our hearts.

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