|Image from Ray Downing.|
Jesus said our righteousness should surpass the righteousness of the Pharisees and law teachers. If not, we will "certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven." You see, this is a very serious thing. Make sure you do not fall into the Pharisee Debacle.
What made them fail? Simple---their lives were outside the Beatitudes. Yes, they were experts of the law---very bible-based, as it were---and yet you couldn't see how their lives and characters fit into the standards of the Kingdom. The law should result to the Beatitudes, but didn't happen with them.
It's so important it needs repeating---fulfillment of the law resulted into the Beatitude Life. Jesus clarified that he didn't come to abolish the law but to fulfill it. So, Christ is the model of someone who has fulfilled the law. In the bible, you see all the Beatitude qualities in him---poor in spirit, mourning, meek, seriously after righteousness, peacemaker, etc. You never see these things in the Pharisees and law teachers. All they have is knowledge, not the LIFE and character.
And many in church today are like that. They have the theology and sound doctrines but not the LIFE and character of Jesus---not the Beatitudes. Poor in spirit? You see many who are proud and arrogant and brag about their accomplishments, mega churches, titles and degrees. I've seen so many in their denominational pride look down on "lesser" church denominations. If you live like this, in effect you set aside the commands and teach others to do the same.
In other words, if you don't have the fruit of the Kingdom (see the discussion here) your righteousness is the same righteousness that the Pharisees had---you have not surpassed it. You suffer the same debacle. As we have said in an earlier post, the Kingdom is all about fruit. You should produce the fruit without effort.
It's useless to have so many ministry accomplishments and not live the Beatitude life. So many church leaders fail at meekness, for instance. So many have not experienced persecution because of Jesus. Some do suffer persecution, but they are persecuted for their church involvement or the name of their denomination, not for Jesus Christ. Once the Beatitude Life is not seen in you, you lose your saltiness and cease being light. You're only good to be thrown out on the streets to be trampled by men. Meaning, the world sees nothing different about you. You're just like the many religious or church people in the world.
Jesus was different. You saw everything he taught in his life and character. When he said blessed are the poor in spirit, you saw that he was really poor in spirit. In fact, he lived poor and was among the poor (though he never had problems with money). When he said blessed are those who mourn, you really saw him mourn---not for himself---but for others. The Pharisees may have probably taught the same things, but you saw them in their rich robes and favored positions. They flaunted their material possessions and used their influence to gain more favors. They sought recognition and respect. They loved to be seen praying in public.
One day, I laughed when I saw how some church people became more active in church when they saw how Jesus said their righteousness should surpass that of the Pharisees. Well, that was how their pastor explained it. They thought it was all about church involvement and being more active in ministries.
But truth is, the Kingdom is all about producing the fruit of the Kingdom. And you naturally produce it if Christ really lives in you. He alone can fulfill the whole law. If he is in you, you fulfill the law through him without actually fulfilling it yourself (for no one can do this except Jesus, he is the end of the law), and you produce the fruit of the Kingdom naturally.
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