“For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” Matthew [5:20]
Imagine you had a cup and this cup was your favorite cup so you cared about keeping it clean and intact. While you faithfully and meticulously scrub the outside of the cup to remove the residue of coffee, you never clean the inside. So, inside this cup was dirty with dried up creamer and old coffee caked on the sides. I don’t think you would want to use that cup.
The Pharisees were like this coffee cup. They were worried about their outward appearance and wanted to look righteous to everyone. In reality, they were not. Jesus says that we are to be more righteous than the Pharisees. We need to be righteous both inside and out.
Believers are made right in the eyes of God because of what Jesus did on the cross. Jesus gave us His righteousness by dying on the cross to save us from our sin and to make us new. This inner righteousness in Christ is what the Pharisees lacked. They were depending on the righteousness of what they did, rather than on what Christ has done.
Jesus is calling us to remember that we are made righteous through Him, but we are also to live a righteous life in His power. It’s only in His power that we can avoid self-righteousness like that of the Pharisees.
Heavenly Father, thank you for your Son’s sacrifice on the cross so that I could be righteous in your sight. Forgive me when I rely on my own righteousness. Help me to lean solely on you for salvation and not my own works. Amen.