Except your Righteousness…

Except your Righteousness…
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)
The Scribes and Pharisees were the most righteous men, outwardly, who ever lived. They lived by the ten commandments. According to the letter of the law, they were blameless. They paid tithes of all they possessed, fasted twice a week, and prayed three times a day. Yet, our Lord tells us that we must be more righteous than them, or we “shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” The fact is that without perfect righteousness no one can ever enter into heaven (Rev. 21:27; 22:11-14). The righteousness required by God is a perfect righteousness, a righteousness which no mere man can produce. In order to enter that perfect kingdom we must be made perfectly righteous by the righteousness of Christ (Romans 5:19; 2 Corinthians 5:21). All who believe are made the righteousness of God in Christ by two distinct acts of grace.

l. The righteousness of Christ is imputed to us in justification (Romans 4:3-8). — Our sin was imputed to Christ at Calvary. Though he never committed sin, he was made to be sin, and became responsible under the law for our sins, as our Substitute. In exactly the same way, the righteousness of Christ has been imputed to us, though we never have performed a righteous deed. Just as the law punished Christ for our sin, which was legally imputed to him, the law of God rewards every believer for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us.

2. The righteousness of Christ is imparted to us in regeneration (2 Peter 1:2-4; 1 John 3:4-9). — “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). If I am born again by the Spirit of God, I have a new nature created in my soul, a righteous nature is imparted to me, by which I reign as a king over the lusts and passions of my flesh. Yes, God’s people do sin. Sin is mixed with all we do, so long as we live in this body of flesh. But sin no longer reigns over us. We are no longer under the dominion of sin (Romans 6:14-16; Galatians 5:22-23). The believer’s life is a life of faith, godliness and uprightness.

No Personal Righteousness

Every heaven born soul readily acknowledges that he has no personal righteousness, honestly confessing that even his best deeds are filthy rags before God. Believers are no more able of themselves to think a good thought, form a good desire, speak a good word, or do a good work than unbelievers. Yet, it is written, “he that doeth righteousness is righteous.” All believers do righteousness. However, the righteousness they do is not theirs. It is the righteousness of Christ, that new man in them “created in righteousness and true holiness.” As Paul puts it, “Christ liveth in me.” Don Fortner.

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