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Evangelism Part 4: Righteousness Series

  • Evangelism Part 4: Righteousness

Why did Jesus warn us to have a righteousness that exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees? Who were and are the audiences of Jesus who pertain to this warning? How can we surpass the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, who were known to follow the law given by God to Moses? Being a Christian is not under the law but grace. If we confess our sins, God is faithful and will forgive us and purify us from all unrighteousness (I John 1:9).

The Scribes and the Pharisees believed that God made a covenant with them through the Law given to Moses on Mt. Sinai by God. The laws were given to Moses through His voice and a commandment written by His fingers. It reflects God’s desire to guide humans to salvation. Humans draw close to God through obedience to the given laws. Before the law, sins were unknown to people, and innocence or lack of knowledge about the law is not an excuse to avoid the consequences of their acts. With the laws, people learned that humans are sinners.

As Paul said, God promised Adam that as soon as he disobeyed God by eating from the forbidden tree of the knowledge of good and evil, he would surely die. Adam’s rebellion brought sin into the world, making humans the perfect imperfection of God’s creations. Everyone is born into sin. Therefore, humans are sinners by nature, and all fall short of God’s standards.

Jesus’ righteousness brought us into the knowledge of God, and his sacrifices, which led to his death on the cross, gave us the sufficiency to be reconciled to God. When God said that maybe the world would be saved through His Son, he did save the sinners by wiping out the original sins with his blood. The elders taught that we are still sinners due to weaknesses in human flesh, but not the inherited sin before the cross.

The sins of the father are not also the sins of the son and vice versa. Jesus reconciled us to God, and we become sons of God and, by doing a righteous act, will delight the Father. Jesus said: “My Father loves me because I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it alone. I have the authority to lay it down and take it up again—this command I received from my Father.”—John 10:17-18.

The measurements of righteousness are through obedience to God’s commandments. James 2:10— “If you obey every law except one, you are still guilty of breaking them all. … And whosoever shall keep the whole law, but offend in one point, is become guilty of all.”

The Ten Commandments represent God’s moral law. It reflects God’s character and love for humankind. He gave the laws or the commandments for people to level to His standard. The laws were written by God, not by utterance, which He can easily do, but He used His fingers for a reason, which is why He wrote the laws on the stones. It signifies solidness and visibility and will last forever. Any violation of the laws violates God’s commands. The Lord Jesus summed up these laws as written in Matthew 22:36-40, but it didn’t mean that he changed the laws but made them more transparent.

When Jesus was asked, which is the greatest commandment in the Law? Jesus replied,”‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Obedience to God’s commandments made someone righteous. Unfortunately, many followers of Paul’s teaching about law and grace made the laws powerless and without respect for the laws of love (Ten Commandments). Many Christians rejoice about being under grace without understanding that God’s command will never change. These teachings of Paul need a second look or seek what he means: Christians are not under the law but grace.

God is all in all 

Bishop Joseph

Bishop Joseph Vitug, Ph.D. - Bishop Emeritus

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