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Enter The Kingdom Of God By Exceeding The Righteousness Of The Pharisees

by Dorsey Traw

"Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets:
I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
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.
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 5:17-20


INTRODUCTION
Even though the religious leaders of their day, the Pharisees often displayed disregard for the obedience and teaching of God's laws. If they did not pervert their teaching of the law, then they perverted their keeping of it. Jesus says that our righteousness must be of such a nature as to exceed that of the "scribes and Pharisees."

1. JESUS CAME TO FULFIL THE LAW (Verses 17-18).
        1. He did not come to destroy (tear it down) the law and prophets.
       2. Rather, He came to fulfil it.
               1. He, Himself, fulfilled the promises of the coming Messiah mentioned throughout the Old Testament.
               2. Through His redemptive work, he fulfilled man's greatest need. That need is salvation from sin                    (something one could not attain previously because the Old Law could not be perfectly kept).
2. WE MUST KEEP GOD'S COMMANDS (Verse 19).
        1. Breaking God's commands have always been forbidden.
       2. Teaching others to break His commands has also always been forbidden.
        3. To be great in the kingdom we must both do and teach the commands of God.
3. OUR LIVES MUST BE CHARACTERISED BY RIGHTEOUSNESS (Verse 20).
        1. We are to be righteous children of God.
        2. However, we must not follow that which "appears" righteous. Appearances can be deceiving! The             scribes and Pharisees "appeared" righteous, but in actuality were hypocrites. Notice their hypocritical             practices from Matthew 23:
               1. Verse 3: They would "say and do not."
               2. Verse 4: They would "bind heavy burdens" and not give any assistance.
              3. Verse 5: They did their works to be seen of men.
               4. Verses 6-7: They loved the "chief" places and names.
               5. Verse 13: They "shut up the kingdom of heaven."
               6. Verse 14: They "devoured widows' houses."
               7. Verse 15: They would corrupt converts.
               8. Verses 16-22: They perverted their oaths.
               9. Verses 23-24: They "omitted the weightier matters of the law."
              10. Verses 25-28: They were inwardly corrupt.
              11. Verses 29-36: They appeared better than their evil fathers, but they were just as guilty.


CONCLUSION
As children of God, we are responsible for keeping the commands of God. Those commands, however, must be kept from the heart. An "outward righteousness" is not acceptable to God.

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