Scripture Reference: Matthew 5:17-20, Matthew 5:48, Matthew 7:17-18, Matthew 13:43, Matthew 23:25-26, Romans 8:4, Galatians 5:22, Hebrews 10:12-14
The Truly RighteousRev. Philip Miller | January 30, 2022
Scripture Reference: Matthew 5:17-20, Matthew 5:48, Matthew 7:17-18, Matthew 13:43, Matthew 23:25-26, Romans 8:4, Galatians 5:22, Hebrews 10:12-14
Selected highlights from this sermon
Jesus turned the world upside down with the central thesis of the Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew 5:17–20, we find, in essence, that God is in the business of taking ordinary, sinful, hopeless people and turning us into His glorious sons and daughters.
There is a caveat: We need to be as righteous as God is before we can be His sons or daughters. As Pastor Miller explains, we can do nothing to achieve that level of righteousness, but such righteousness can be obtained by the free gift of the Father through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ.
A few years back, Time Magazine used a data-driven model to determine and rank out the 100 most significant figures in all of world history, and the stand-out leader at the very top of their list was none other than Jesus Christ of Nazareth who launched one of the few global movements which have endured. He is more significant, according to Time Magazine (we know this, but they said it too), He is more significant than any other religious, philosophical, political, or technological leader in all of world history. It was Jesus and His ideas that have most shaped and turned the world upside down, and if you want to know what Jesus is all about, there’s no better place to go than the Sermon on the Mount. This is the very heart of the teaching of Jesus. This is the message He proclaimed wherever He went. These are the ideas of Jesus that changed the world forever.
And every speech has a central thesis, a big idea around which everything else is organized, and today we come to the central thesis of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, the blazing center, the beating heart of the upside-down way of Jesus. In the 111 Greek words that we’re going to look at this morning (we’ll look at them in English. Don’t worry, but there’s 111 [words] in Greek.) we find the big idea that literally turned the world on its head.
So let’s grab our Bibles. We’re going to be in Matthew 5:17–20. If you want to use the pew Bible, it’s there by your knees. You’ll find today’s reading on page 810. Eight-one-zero. Let me read these verses, and then we’ll jump right in.
Matthew 5:17, this is Jesus speaking:
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Here’s the big statement – Verse 20.) “For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Thanks be to the Lord for the reading of His Word.
We’re going to use three questions to frame our time together this morning.
- First question: Why is Jesus explaining Himself?
- Second question: What is the righteousness God requires?
- And third question: How do we become truly righteous?
Why is Jesus explaining Himself, what is the righteousness God requires, and how do we become truly righteous?
This is going to be fun. Let’s bow our heads, let’s pray and let’s ask the Lord to open our eyes and be our teacher.
Father, as we turn to these world-changing words of Jesus, we need your instruction, we need you to open our eyes, we need you to make us new. We come hungry, thirsty, yearning, empty. Fill us up. Satisfy our souls, we pray in Jesus’ name, Amen. Amen.
First, why is Jesus explaining Himself? Why is Jesus explaining Himself? When Jesus says in verse 17, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them,” He’s obviously seeking to clarify His position, right? He does not want to be misunderstood. “Don’t think that I’m here to abolish the Law.” (That would be the Law of Moses, that Moses brought down, right? The Ten Commandments, that whole thing.) “Don’t think I’m here to abolish the Law of Moses, or the prophets (all the prophetic literature and revelations that came that are encapsulated in the Old Testament Scriptures, right?).” The “Law” and “the Prophets” together, that’s a shorthand for the Old Testament, the Bible at that time, the Jewish Scriptures. “Do not think I am here to do away with the Old Testament Scriptures. If you think that, you’ve got me wrong. I’m not here to abolish them. I’m here to fulfill them.”
Now, the question then is: “What did Jesus say thus far in the Sermon on the Mount that would have triggered people into the suspicion that He’s abolishing the Law and the Prophets?” You see the question? What did He say, what could He possibly have said that would give rise to this idea, this accusation, that He’s throwing the Bible out? It’s quite an accusation.
Now think with me. Think with me. How did Jesus start the Sermon on the Mount? “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” We forget how shocking that is. “Blessed are the spiritually impoverished ones, the spiritually bankrupt ones, the spiritually debt-ridden who have no righteousness to their name whatsoever, no reputation to protect, no standing before God to offer Him, those whose righteousness is like filthy rags. Blessed are those people, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
If you were to ask Jesus’ audience, “Who’s the poster child for the kingdom of heaven?” they would have said, to a man and a woman, they would have said, “The Pharisees are. Of course the Pharisees are. They’re the poster childs [sic] for the kingdom of heaven. There’s nobody more studious in the Scriptures than the Scribes and the Pharisees. There’s no one more meticulous in their obedience and their religious fervor. There’s no one who’s more obviously righteous on Earth, more deserving of the kingdom of heaven than the Pharisees.
The Pharisees taught everyone that the way to live in and usher in the kingdom of heaven was to obey the Law and the Prophets with meticulous care, and that God would see your striving for righteousness, all of your efforts, and He would respond by giving the blessings of the kingdom of heaven. And no one was better at striving than the Pharisees. No one was better at being really, really good than the Pharisees. They were the most righteous people on Earth, or so they thought. And then Jesus comes along, and His lead-off poster child for the kingdom of heaven is not the spiritually asset-rich, the Pharisees, but the spiritually impoverished and bankrupt ones, sinners, tax-collectors, unrighteous people.
Wait a minute! Wait a minute, if the kingdom of heaven is where God is, where everything is under His reign, and everything is done according to His will, then the kingdom of heaven is where righteousness is and where righteousness dwells. And to be in the kingdom of heaven is to be righteous by definition! Only the righteous can be in the kingdom of heaven.
But Jesus, Jesus, you just said the kingdom of heaven belongs to spiritual zeroes, and spiritually bankrupt, and spiritually indebted people! What do you mean? How can that be true? Are you saying you don’t have to be righteous to enter the kingdom of heaven? Are you saying you don’t have to be rich in spiritual goodness to be in the kingdom of heaven? If that’s true, then I guess righteousness doesn’t matter at all then. Huh? Is that what you’re saying, that all the Law in the Torah, all that right living in the covenant of God, that doesn’t matter? All the Prophets of Israel who came along and taught the people, called them to righteous living before God. Are you saying none of that matters?
“Are you saying, Jesus (it can’t be true), are you saying that the righteous standards of God in the Law and the Prophets no longer matter? Are you relaxing the commandments of God? Are you lowering the standards of righteousness of God? Are you letting stuff slide? Are you abolishing the Law and the Prophets?”
Do you see how they got here? And Jesus says, “No. Don’t think I’m here to abolish the Law and the Prophets. I’m not here to abolish them. I’m here to fulfill them. Don’t misunderstand Me. I’m abolishing nothing. I’m destroying nothing. I’m setting aside nothing. I’m emptying out nothing. The righteous requirements of God, I’m not getting rid of them. I’m not getting rid of the Law and the Prophets, but I will fulfill them. I’m here to bring the Law and the Prophets to their appointed purpose and goal. I’m here to bring them to fullness. I’m here to bring them to completion. I’m here to bring it to maturity. I’m here to bring them to fruition. I’m here to fulfill the righteous requirements of God that have been recorded in the Holy Scriptures. I’m not here to end the Law and the Prophets, but I am here to bring them to their appointed end.” There’s a difference.
Jesus came, friends, not to abolish or relax the righteous requirements of God, but that they might be fulfilled and accomplished in Him. And to drive Jesus’ point home, Jesus affirms the enduring importance of the Law and Prophets, the Word of God, with two definitive statements here.
Here’s the first one. Verse 18: “For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” Because the Word of God stands forever. It endures. It’s trustworthy and true, down to the smallest letter, an iota. That’s the smallest letter in Greek, the ninth letter in the Greek alphabet, or the smallest jerk of a pen, just a dot, like dotting your i’s. It’s a small tick on a letter. God’s Word will be accomplished down to the very smallest and most minute point because God’s Word, He says, is even more durable than heaven and Earth.
Do you realize that the Word of God undergirds and precedes all of reality? God spoke, and everything came into being, which means God’s Word, His promises, are more durable than everything you see, taste, touch, and experience. You can take Him to the bank. Jesus says, “I’m not abolishing the Law and the Prophets. Nobody can do that. It will all be accomplished.”
The second affirmation here, verse 19: “Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”
He says, “Look, in the kingdom of heaven that is at hand in My coming, that’s on offer that I’m bringing into the world, the righteous requirements of the Law and Prophets are being upheld. In the kingdom of heaven if you relax any of the least commandments, the smallest ones, and give other people permission to do the same, you will not be honored. You’ll be least in the kingdom of heaven. But if you uphold them and teach others to do them, you will be honored as great. So, far from relaxing the Law of God, I am here upholding the Law of God in the kingdom of heaven. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not lowering God’s standards of righteousness. If anything, I’m raising them.
Verse 20: “For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
(laughs) What? Are you kidding me, Jesus? Nobody’s more righteous than the Pharisees. They’re the best of the best. They’re the purest of the pure. They’re the righteous of the righteous. You’re saying that our righteousness has to exceed theirs or we’ll never enter into the kingdom of heaven? What? Jesus, what is it that God wants of us? What is it? What is the righteousness God requires?
Second question: What is the righteousness God requires? If our righteousness must exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees if we are to enter into the kingdom of heaven, then we need to know what that righteousness is, yes? Oh, please tell me you want to know. We need to know what that righteousness is, yes? (Congregation: Yes.) Yes!
What is the righteousness God requires? First, let’s define righteousness. Okay? The word for righteous is dikaiosune. (chuckles) You want to try that? Say dikaiosune after me. Ready? One, two, three: Dikaiosune. Well done! You know Greek now. All right! It means righteousness, goodness, virtue, justice. It is a theological matrix of ideas encapsulated in this one concept, this one word. It has an inward disposition, righteousness on the inside toward God especially, that is expressed outwardly toward other people. And then, righteousness has both an individual and a corporate dimension. Let me just walk through the four things: inner, outer, individual, corporate. Okay?
Inward means, when we talk about righteousness, we’re talking about personal piety before God, and corporate devotion before God as well. So individually, to be righteous before God, to have dikaiosune, is to be pious. It’s to be rightly related to God with an inner goodness of heart that is right before God. God doesn’t look at the outside. He looks at the inside, the heart, and so God looks for righteousness in here. Worship, faith, surrender, holiness, that’s what righteousness means.
Then, when we’re together with other people that inward righteousness takes on a life of devotion and worship in the community of faith. In other words, we gather together and we can be a righteous people, right? Not just individually, but collectively we can be a righteous people who live rightly before God in faith and worship and holiness and devotion to Him, living rightly before God in the world as a people, okay? So individual, corporate righteousness.
Then there’s outward righteousness which shows up in the world. It’s now coming out of our lives in the way we act, or the way we behave, and it looks like personal ethics and corporate justice, personal ethics and corporate justice.
So personally when I’m living rightly before God, rightly oriented before God, then I treat other people rightly as well, right? And I live rightly before God in the world. I do what is right, and what is good, and what is just, and what is holy. In other words, I live according to the right standards of God as I interact with other people. So much of the Ten Commandments are about how we treat each other, right? That is righteousness working its way out. That’s our ethics.
Then, as a group, we form a culture of what’s permissible and what’s okay, and there’s a communal value of justice that we treat one another rightly before God as creatures made in His image, redeemed by His blood, and made members of one forever family in Him. To be right with God, we then live justly with one another. This is all encapsulated in the central idea of dikalosune, righteousness.
Are you with me? It is holistic. It is thick, this understanding of righteousness. It is to be right before God in the goodness of our inner life, both in our piety and then collectively in our devotion as a people. It is when we are right before God in the goodness of our outer life, in our ethics as individuals, and corporately in our justice with one another.
So, if you want to know what the righteousness is that God requires, just look at the Word. To be truly right with God, truly right before God, is to have real goodness on the inside of you, which then flows outwardly into all of our relationships, so that the people around us are drawn in contagiously toward a life of devotion and justice toward one another. It is goodness at the very core of who we are in all dimensions of our life. It is a righteousness that goes all the way down, and goes all the way out.
This is the kind of true righteousness which springs from our hearts and permeates all of our lives. This is the righteousness that is at home in the kingdom of heaven. This is the righteousness that exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees. This is the kind of righteousness we desperately need.
Now in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus will now (and we’ll look at this in the coming weeks)...He will give illustrations of what this kind of heart righteousness looks like. And each one of these illustrations is introduced with the same formula: “You have heard it said…but I say to you…” “You have heard it said…but I say to you…”
“You have heard it said, ‘Do not murder,’ but I say to you, ‘Don’t even be angry.’” That’s the righteousness you need, not even getting angry in your heart.
“You have heard it said, ‘Don’t commit adultery,’ but I say to you, ‘Don’t even lust.’” That’s the righteousness of the kingdom of heaven.
“You have heard it said, ‘Don’t break your oaths,’ but I say to you, ‘Let your yes be yes and your no be no.’” A life of integrity is what you need in the kingdom of heaven.
See, the Pharisees taught that righteousness was about what you do. But it goes deeper than that. Jesus is saying righteousness is about who we are. It’s who we are. The Pharisees were all about the righteousness of good behavior. Jesus says, “I’m all about the righteousness of a good heart.”
Friends, behavior modification will never change your heart. Behavior modification will never change your heart, but a changed heart will always change behavior.
Matthew 7—This is the end of the Sermon on the Mount, near the end. In Matthew 7:17–18, Jesus says this: “So every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit.” Do you see what Jesus is saying? It’s a metaphor. Behavior is the fruit. The heart is the root. Healthy hearts bear good fruit, good behavior. Diseased hearts bear bad fruit, bad behavior. And friends, we can try our hardest to be righteous on the outside, but unless our hearts are made right, it’s just sin management. It’ll just keep coming back. You take the ugly fruit off, it’ll grow back because bad hearts always produce bad fruit. We’ve got to be changed on the inside.
Jesus is telling us that our behavior is the symptom. Our hearts are the disease.
In Matthew 23:25–26, this is what Jesus said. He was talking to the Pharisees. He says: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” (chuckles) He’s not trying to win friends and influence people here, okay? Why?
Why “Woe to you scribes and Pharisees?” “For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but the inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.”
He’s saying, “You can’t become righteous from the outside in. It’s impossible. Righteousness only comes from the inside out.”
So the Pharisees taught a religion of sin management. They focused on external behaviors, and they just basically said, you know, “Act nice.” You know? “Straighten up, be good. God’s watching you,” you know? “You’d better watch out. You don’t want to be like those sinners, those people, those dirty riff-raff people. You’re better than that. Keep yourself in line.” And they leveraged. They were experts at leveraging fear and pride and selfishness, and ego, and social pressure, and using all of these tools that twist around people and make them act good, but they never change their hearts. And Jesus says it’s not enough. “For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
You need a righteousness that goes deeper. You need a righteousness that is wider. You need a righteousness that is better. You need a righteousness that’s higher, that’s greater, that’s fuller, that’s richer. The only way you’re ever going to enter the kingdom of heaven is Matthew 5:48: “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
You have to be perfect. You want to know what kind of righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, the kind of righteousness without which you cannot see the kingdom of heaven? The kind of righteousness that you need? It’s the righteousness of your heavenly Father, utter perfection itself. You need a heart of pure inner goodness that flows naturally into a life of outer righteousness. This is the righteousness of the kingdom of heaven. This is the righteousness the Law and Prophets were after all along. This is the righteousness that exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees. It’s the righteousness of God Himself.
So how do we get it? How do we become truly righteous?
See, at this point, we’re at an impasse, aren’t we? We’re at an impasse because we’re not truly righteous, are we? Anybody here truly righteous? Oh, we can clean up our act, and act nice on a big day, try to be better than we are at home when we’re out in public. But at the core of who we are, our main problem keeps coming back, and that’s that our hearts are a sinful, intractable mess. And if our righteousness must exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees or we’ll never enter into the kingdom of heaven, then friends, we’re toast. We’re toast. You can’t beat the Pharisees at their own game. You can’t out-Pharisee a Pharisee. It’s hopeless.
But then Jesus did say, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” which sounds like there is hope for spiritually bankrupt sinners like us. But how? How is it possible that the kingdom of heaven can belong to the spiritually impoverished people, and at the same time, our righteousness must exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees if we’re ever to enter the kingdom of heaven? How does that work? If we must be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect, how is it that we can be “blessed as the poor in spirit who have the kingdom of heaven?”
How do you put those together? Jesus, which one is it? Do we need to be spiritually perfect or spiritually impoverished? Which one? And Jesus says, “Yes! Both!” It’s the only way. You have to be both. “‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Stop the way you’re thinking about righteousness. It’s upside down. You’ve got it all wrong. Change the way you’re living. Change the way you’re thinking. The righteousness of God, the kingdom of heaven is at hand. It’s right here. It’s on offer in Me. Come to Me. Come poor and empty and helpless and broken and grab ahold of Me in desperation. Believe in Me. Trust in Me. Follow Me because I alone am the righteousness of God. I alone have the true goodness of God inside and out. (applause) I alone am righteous all the way down and all the way out. And My righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, for I alone am perfect as My Father in heaven is perfect. And if you will just come to Me, spiritually bankrupt, with righteousness like filthy rags, and throw all of your desperate hopes upon Me, if you will reach out to Me, and take My hand and follow Me into the life of the kingdom of heaven, I will be your righteousness. I will be everything you need before God. Follow Me and I will be more than enough for you.”
See, friends, Jesus came, not to abolish the Law and the Prophets, but to fulfill them in Himself. The righteous requirements of God are fully met in Jesus Christ. He is the righteousness that exceeds that of the scribes and the Pharisees. And it is a righteousness that is freely offered to all who will trust in Him. This is the great beauty of salvation.
Salvation has three phases, three chapters. The first is what we call justification. Justification: that by grace through faith in Christ we are clothed with the perfect righteousness of Jesus. Second Corinthians 5:21 says, “For our sake [God] made [Jesus] him [Jesus] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
Do you realize what that’s saying? Jesus went to the cross and He offered His life as a substitute for us. He died in our place and for our sake. He bore all of our sin and shame upon us and rose again to make us right with God so that we might be children of God now and forever. And when He did that, He took all of our sin upon Himself and in exchange He gave us, by grace, His own perfect life of righteousness. He covered us with His life, His perfect righteousness, so that, as Paul says, “We might become the righteousness of God.”
You are, in Christ, the righteousness of God. We are declared righteous before God by grace through faith in Christ. And God’s Word is trustworthy and true. It is more definitive than everything you see, taste, touch, and interact with. The Word of God is unchanging. It will be accomplished. So when God says, “You are righteous in My Son,” it is finished. It is finished. (applause) And this means that we are now adopted as the sons and daughters of God, who are indwelt by the presence of the Holy Spirit, who is on the job transforming us from the inside out.
The second chapter of salvation is sanctification. Sanctification: By grace through faith in Christ, we are now being conformed to the righteous image of Jesus. Not only are we righteous in Christ because we’re declared righteous, by the power of the Spirit as He leads and guides and transforms us from the inside out, we are becoming more and more like Jesus, and the Spirit is writing the Law of God on our hearts, conforming us to the image of Christ, and making us like God Himself, which means that as sons and daughters in the kingdom of heaven, our Father is making us to share in His goodness. He is making us into people of true inner goodness who will naturally do everything the Law and the Prophets required.
Romans 8:4 - the righteous requirements of the law are fully met in those who live by the Spirit. Do you realize what this means? Jesus is not abolishing the Law and the Prophets. He is, by His Spirit, making us into the very kinds of people who fulfill all that the Law and Prophets require, not just declared righteous in Christ, but actually starting to live it out, by our lives, the very righteousness that God requires. Jesus is doing by the Spirit what the Law could never accomplish. He’s making us righteous, you see.
Galatians 5:22 and 23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control,” and then Paul adds this, “against such things there is no law.” Isn’t that interesting? In other words, the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control of the Spirit is fulfilling exactly what the Law was after all along, a righteousness that exceeds that of the scribes and the Pharisees. Because the Law, friends, the Law is never the sourceof righteousness, but it is always the course of righteousness. We don’t get righteousness from the Law, but when we act righteously, it is in accordance with the Law, you see, because the Spirit always exceeds what the Law requires. Have you noticed this? Under the Law it is: “Do not murder.” Under the Spirit it’s: “Don’t even be angry.” Under the Law it was: “Do not commit adultery.” Under the Spirit it’s: “Do not even lust.”
The Spirit brings us into a wider, deeper, fuller, higher, greater righteousness. To live by the Spirit is to increasingly be conformed to the image of Christ, and to grow in the righteousness of God from the inside out. This is amazing.
And then finally the third chapter in our salvation is glorification. Glorification: By grace through faith in Christ, we will one day be fully revealed in the glorious righteousness of Jesus. Amen? I can’t wait for this. One day we will be like Jesus for we shall see Jesus as He is.
Matthew 13:43, Jesus says, “Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.”
One day, friends, we will be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect. By grace through faith in Jesus Christ, we have been declared righteous. We are justified freely by His grace. That is our past. We are being sanctified. We are growing in the righteousness of God as we are led by the Spirit. That is our present. And one day we will be glorified when we are revealed in the righteousness of God, fully perfect forever. That is our future.
I love how Hebrews 10:12–14 puts a bow on all of this for us. This is what it says: “But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting for the time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. (Here’s the phrase) For by a single offering he has perfected (past tense) for all time, (future) those who are being sanctified (present).”
He has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. Do you see your salvation—past, present, and future—is covered by the righteousness of Jesus, and Jesus alone?
“Blessed are the poor in Spirit who find in Jesus the perfect righteousness that exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
By grace through faith in Christ, we are the righteousness of God in Him. We are becoming the righteousness of God by the Spirit, and we will be the righteousness of God in glory forever.
Friends, here’s the bottom line: God intends to make us like Himself. (laughs)
Do you know how audacious this is? Do you know what a mess we are? God is in the business of taking ordinary, sinful, hopeless, spiritually bankrupt people—people like you and me—and turning them into glorious sons of God, titans forever!
C.S. Lewis writes this in Mere Christianity. “The command, ‘Be ye perfect’ is not idealistic gas. Nor is it a command to do the impossible. He is going to make us into creatures that can obey that command.”
So friends, won’t you trust Jesus as your righteousness? Won’t you lay down your filthy rags, and grab ahold of Jesus alone? His righteousness is all that matters. It’s the only thing that matters.
Friends, won’t you follow the Spirit into the righteous life that God wants for you, to conform you to the image of Christ? Where is the Spirit prodding and probing and convicting and challenging and calling you?
Won’t you yield and surrender and obey? The life of the kingdom of heaven is yours if you will step into it. Won’t you hope in your Father’s glorious eternal righteousness that is coming? Won’t you set your sights and aim on the glories of standing before Christ in perfect righteousness?
This is better than whatever your ten-year plan is. It’s glory. It’s what Jesus wants for you. It’s what your life was made for. Don’t settle. You are made for glory, eternity in the presence of God.
Friends, the righteousness of God is our past, present and future. By grace through faith in Christ, it is our everything. Jesus is our everything. Amen? Amen. (applause)
Oh Father, can it be that this is real, that you have a glory and a future and a hope and a life and an eternity far beyond these shores that is so much better, more beautiful, more wondrous than anything we have down here? This audacity from the kingdom of heaven to sweep “nobodys,” less than “nobodys,” liabilities, into the kingdom of heaven and crown them with glory, who would have ever thought? And yet in Jesus it is true. Help us to live in to this beautiful story by grace through faith in Christ, who is our righteousness through and through from beginning to end and our only hope, for it’s in His name we pray, Amen. Amen.