Our Righteousness Must Exceed The RIGHTEOUSNESS Of The Pharisees, Not Just Their Wickedness

Jesus teaches our righteousness must “exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees” (exactly as Matt 5:20 puts it), not just their wickedness. It wouldn’t take much effort at all for our righteousness to exceed the wickedness of the average hypocritical Pharisee – an atheist almost does that. No, Jesus demands much more commitment than that out of us – our righteousness must actually exceed the righteousness of even those Pharisees (like Saul of Tarsus) that were living faithfully to God at that time.

The six “ye have heard it said by them of old time but I say unto you” cases in verses 21-48 interpret verse 20 for us. As Christians, our standard of conduct (the New Testament law) exceeds (is more strict than) the Old Testament’s standard of conduct. In all six cases, Jesus compares his NT law with what the OT law actually said. And the standard of Jesus’ new law exceeds (in moral stringency) the OT law quoted in each and every case.

The Sermon On The Mount is primarily “kingdom gospel” (Matt 4:23). The point of Matt 5:20 is that a New Testament saint is required to live on a higher moral plane than an Old Testament saint was. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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