What Does Matthew 5:20 Mean?

For I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:20(HCSB)

Verse of the Day

Someone has suggested that the key to Christ's Sermon on the Mount lies in verse 20, which tells us that unless we are more righteous than the Scribes and Pharisees of Christ's day, we will not even enter the kingdom of heaven.

But even though the external virtue and exterior purity of these religious men seemed to be exemplary, it still was not sufficient to grant them a place in Christ's coming kingdom. So who can ever enter the kingdom of heaven? No wonder there is confusion about Christ's Sermon on the Mount.

Many Christians erroneously see Christ's Sermon on the Mount as a salvation passage for unbelievers rather than a kingdom promise for those that are saved by grace through faith. Many non-Christians consider it a charter for world peace or a principle to be adopted in their individual lives or by nations; do these things on this list and you will become righteous. They do not understand that true righteousness comes only through believing on the Lord Christ Jesus as Saviour, for there is none good, not even one.

So what does Jesus mean by telling us that our righteousness needs to surpass that of the Scribes and Pharisees or we will never enter the kingdom of heaven?

There was no-one who was more seemingly righteous than the Scribes and Pharisees of Christ's day, yet the Lord Jesus alone is good. He alone is perfect. He alone is righteous. He alone is holy unto the Lord, for Jesus Christ is God. If the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees of Christ's day was not sufficient in those days, then it is still insufficient in our day too.

There is only one was to achieve righteousness that surpasses the Scribes and Pharisees and that is by being covered in Christ's righteousness. And the way to be covered in Christ's righteousness is to believe in Him. Unless we are covered in Christ's righteousness, unless we are saved by grace through faith in Christ, we will never enter the kingdom of God. But by believing in His name, we are eternally covered in His righteousness and immediately become joint heirs with Christ, Who is coming soon to set up the kingdom of heaven.

Let us give praise and thanks to God today, for covering us in His righteousness by grace through faith. And let us look forward to that day when we will enter into the kingdom of heaven, forever to be with our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

My Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father, I am not worthy to gather up the crumbs under Your table, and yet You have forgiven my sin and have clothed me in Christ's righteousness, simply because I trusted in Jesus as Saviour. I pray that He will live His life through me, to Your praise and glory. In Jesus' name I pray, AMEN.

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