June 17, 2024

Living Up to God’s Standard

“For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:20


When most of us think about living up to God’s standard, we tend to think about a list of do’s and don’ts. We make a checklist. Then we compare that list to the people around us. As long as we’re doing reasonably well by comparison, we just keep going. God’s standard, however, is summed up in one word—righteousness. As sinful human beings we’re incapable of being righteous on our own (Isaiah 64:6). So how do we meet the standard God demands?


When you become a Christian, you immediately receive the righteous character of Christ. It’s given to you at salvation so you can legally meet the requirements needed for acceptance by a Holy God. “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).


The moment you get saved, you get everything you need to live a righteous life. You have to grow in it and practice it, but you have it. Don’t confuse practicing righteousness with keeping a checklist. That’s exactly the point Jesus was making in today’s verse.


The Jewish religious leaders measured their righteousness by how well they kept the Law and all the rules they added on top of the Law. They failed to see that the whole point of the Law was to show how impossible it was to meet its standards. They needed something else if they wanted to be part of God’s kingdom.


Righteousness is about who you are, not what you do. In other words, we do what we do because of who we are in Christ; not the other way around. When we focus on our actions, we become self-righteous, like the Pharisees. The enemy wants you ignorant of this truth because He knows understanding it gives you identity, purpose, and power.


Have you been trying to live the Christian life by keeping a checklist? Your list will never measure up. Living up to God’s standard requires only one thing—the righteousness of Christ. As you focus on fellowship with Him, your thoughts and actions will start to reflect His righteous character.