The Righteousness That Exceeds That of the Scribes and Pharisees

by Mike Ratliff

“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 ESV)

I had a friend tell me several days ago that her father had made the comment that most believers nowadays have never experienced real Christianity. I agree with that statement. Why? Most professing Christians are not regenerate. They are in the Religion of Do. They practice the same righteousness that the scribes and Pharisees practiced in Jesus’ day.

As we saw in John Piper’s sermon “Battling the Unbelief of Lust,” the predominate teaching in most churches is salvation by grace, but sanctification by works. In this dualistic view of our salvation, all who profess Christ are saved, but not all actually work to be holy and pure before God and that’s okay because, once saved, always saved. Piper showed us in his sermon that genuine Christians are those who battle unbelief in all its forms. They work with God in mortifying their sins by killing the desire within them to walk according to the flesh. I found it very striking that Piper’s stance was that the mark of Christian genuineness is perseverance to the end. Continue reading