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"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. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 5:17-20

Some in Jesus' day misunderstood and thought that Jesus was trying to throw out all that is taught in the Old Testament Scriptures because He offered forgiveness and life through faith in His name. Unfortunately, some today assume that Jesus' teaching does away with the Old Testament and makes these Scriptures obsolete and unnecessary for Christians. Many even believe and teach that one can be a Christian and disregard some or all of what the Bible teaches. This couldn't be further from the truth!

It is as Jesus said: "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." Jesus, the long-promised Messiah and Savior, came to fulfill all that is taught in the Old Testament, not to destroy it. Not the smallest letter (iota) of the Law or the smallest part of a letter (a dot or tittle) in the Scriptures will pass away until all is fulfilled.

Thus, Jesus went on to say: "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. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."

It is a grave offense to break or compromise even the smallest commandment in the Scriptures and teach others so. Those who do so will find themselves called least in God's kingdom -- possibly even being excluded from it. And those who do and teach all that God commands in His Word will be called great in God's kingdom, being faithful stewards of the mysteries of God (cf. 1 Cor. 4:1f.).

And, as a study of the Scriptures will reveal, the righteousness which God demands is far greater than the outward righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees. It far exceeds the righteousness of the churchgoers of our day who depend on their own righteous works and deeds (See Matthew 5:21ff.).

The Scriptures demand perfect righteousness of heart, soul and mind (cf. Lev. 19:2; Matt. 5:48). The Scriptures demand a holy life in thought, word and deed -- righteousness which we do not have and cannot attain by our own attempts to keep God's Law (cf. Rom. 3:19-20).

But Jesus came to keep every commandment of the Scriptures perfectly for us. He regarded the Scriptures as the very Word of God and was obedient to every teaching of the Law and the Prophets! He fulfilled all and regarded all as absolute truth (cf. John 10:35; Heb. 4:15; 1 Pet. 2:22). He fulfilled the righteous demands of the Scriptures for us.

Jesus also, as prophesied by the Law and the Prophets (the Old Testament Scriptures), took our place under God's Law and took the guilt and punishment of our sins upon Himself, that we might have forgiveness and life through faith in Him and His blood shed for us upon the cross (cf. Isa. 53:6; 1 Pet. 2:24; 3:18; Luke 24:45-47).

And these same Scriptures declare to us Christ's full atonement for our sins and the acceptance and pardon of a merciful God for Jesus' sake (Cf. 2 Cor. 5:18-21; Rom. 3:21-28; 4:3-8; 5:18ff.)! They offer to us the imputed, perfect righteousness of Christ Jesus that we might stand in God's judgment through faith in Jesus' name.

Dear LORD Jesus, holy Son of God and true man, our Savior, thank You for fulfilling for us the perfect righteousness taught and demanded in the Holy Scriptures, and thank You for bearing upon the cross the full and just punishment for all our sins and then rising again to grant us forgiveness and life -- perfect righteousness -- through faith in Your name. Amen.

[Devotion by Randy Moll. Scripture quotations are from The ESV® (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

Religion on 07/31/2019

Print Headline: How can you be righteous under God's law?

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