[This post is a part of a 40-day season of fasting and prayer that my church is doing called “Rend 960”]
Matthew 5:20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
Have you noticed that Jesus has a way of saying some crazy things? Do you know that the Pharisees had 612 specific laws, and their job was to keep them all. They were proud of how well they kept all of these rules and regulations concerning external, spiritual behavior. Even more, the expected EVERYONE to live up to their (unreachable) standard, which in another situation, Jesus chastised them, saying they were asking people to carry an impossible load.
In Matthew 5, he’s saying we don’t just have to meet their expectations, but exceed them!
Hopefully, you’re sitting there saying, “I know! Jesus has made us righteous!” And, you are correct! in fact, the Scripture makes the astounding claim, that, not only are we made righteous, we are the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21).
So, then the question becomes, “Am I already righteous, or am I supposed to be working towards being righteous?” The answer is YES!. Because you have been given Jesus’ righteousness, you can now ACT righteous, even as He is. The life of Jesus on the inside of you has given you the ability to fulfill His law completely!! That was never possible before the Holy Spirit was given to live inside of us. And, while the Pharisees had many rules and regulations for seemingly “holy” behavior, all of them were external. They had no means to regulate and cleanse the inside, the heart. They couldn’t bring holiness to the inner man, so their cause was lost before it began!
What a gift! Not only is holiness possible, it’s been given as a free gift! Our adventure now is to take hold of the power of the Holy Spirit inside of us, and let His holiness flow out of us in every situation. We can have clean hands AND clean hearts, and therefore ascend His mountain (Psalm 24)! Fasting doesn’t make us more holy, it’s simply a GIFT that helps us access and TAKE HOLD of what Jesus has already provided. It’s like jet-fuel for our spiritual life and growth.
Today, approach the Throne of Grace with confidence, knowing that you are righteous before God. And, take hold of holiness to invade every aspect of your life! Let that Light in you shine!
Grace and Peace to you!