Christ is Our Righteousness (Matthew 5:17-20)

August 4, 2013

Book: Matthew

Christ is Our Righteousness (Matthew 5:17-20)
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Scripture: Matthew 5:17-20


Sermon Notes

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

V.17 = Do not think…

OT = The Law and the Prophets, the Word of God

The Word of God starts with Genesis 1:1, not Matthew 1:1. Jesus didn’t come as a rabbi with new teachings, doctrines, but as the promised Messiah with a message heard from the Beginning. He didn’t come to abolish the Word of God. So, why did he say, “Do not think…?”

At that time, many thought that Jesus was breaking the Word of God, the Law of God, because Jesus didn’t keep the ceremonial handwashing before meals, and he healed deliberately on the Sabbath. So, he was eventually condemned and crucified as a Law breaker. 

But those who condemned him were ultimately those who were condemned. 

Please don’t misunderstand Jesus. Misunderstanding Jesus = total destruction, hell, etc. Jesus = THE way, THE truth, THE Life. 

1 John “This is eternal life, that they may know God and … have eternal life.”

Many people think (today as well) that Jesus is a “good man” or “prophet” or “religious leader.” Don’t misunderstand him. He makes it clear that he’s come to fulfill and accomplish and complete the Word of God.

God bless all of us to be persuaded and convinced that Jesus came to fulfill the Word of God. Are you convinced?

Then what does that mean? Much can be said under this topic. Limited time = 3 things for us to talk about.

#1: To KEEP, confirm the promises of God in the OT.

  • In Genesis 3:15 = the FIRST promise to send Jesus. “I will put enmity between you (snake) and the woman. You will strike his heel and he will bruise your head.”
  • Isaiah 7:14 “The Lord himself will give you a sign – the virgin will give birth to a son, they will call him Emmanuel.”
  • Isaiah 9 “To us a child is given, a son is born… He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
  • Micah 5 “You Bethlehem, even though you are very small, out of you one will come who will be ruler, whose origins are of old.”

There are two lines concerning the prophecies:

  1. Christ = Savior
  2. Christ = King

Sonship and Kingship go together.

Our Lord has come to keep all the promises, all the Prophets, everything in the OT.

#2: To SHOW, reveal God the Father.

Who can see God? Not us. God = spirit, we = material. Jesus came to show God. We can NOW see God by seeing Jesus. 

In Genesis, God = Creator, Governor, Ruler, Sovereign God, Mighty, Omnipotence, Omniscience,…

Jesus completes the revelation of God as FATHER.

John 1:18 “No one has seen God, but God the one and only who has seen him at the right hand has made him known.”

Philip said, “Show us God.” 

Jesus said, “Don’t you know me?”

We can see God by believing in Jesus Christ. There are many people around us who “believe in ‘God’” without believing in Jesus.
There is no God but Jesus. We cannot “believe in ‘God’” if we don’t believe in Jesus. 

#3: To SAVE sinners

His name Jesus = decided from the voice of heaven. “He will be called Jesus” Jesus = Savior, the Lord saves, Joshua = the Lord saves.

1 Timothy 1:15 “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves to be accepted with full confidence: that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners.”

In the OT, from Genesis to Malachi, one of the biggest plans of God = to save sinners through Jesus. John 3:16 …

Please remember there is NO sin God cannot forgive in Jesus.

1 John 1:7 “The blood of Jesus purifies us from all sin in Jesus.”

There is also NO sin God CAN forgive outside Jesus Christ.

John 16:9 “They sin because they do not believe in me.”

There are many sins, we have a sinful nature. Killing, lying, rebellion. Biggest sin of biggest sin – unforgivable sin against Father God = NOT believing in Jesus Christ. Jesus came to save sinners. 

Jesus says continually (v 18-19) “not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen shall disappear…anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven.”

  • He says continually “I tell you the truth” 
  • Other translations “Verily, verily”

We know ALL his words are true. 

These words signal that the NEXT words are of VITAL importance. Jesus ascribes the highest authority to the Word of God. 

Until heaven and earth disappear, the Word of God will NEVER change.

There are 2 untils:

  • “Until heaven and earth disappear” = the eternal validity of the Word of God
  • “Until everything is accomplished” = the FULL plan of God

Not a single stroke will disappear. 

22 alphabet letters in Hebrew. (24 in Korean, 26 in English)

Some are very small. The smallest is called “yod” – looks like a comma or apostrophe in English.

Jesus held up the full truth of EVERY letter and every word of the Word of God. This shows the ABSOLUTE authority of the Word of God.

Every word in the Scriptures looked forward to Jesus and pointed (still points) to Jesus. EVERYTHING will be done that has not yet been done, everything that has been done is a fulfillment of prophecy.

Revelation = encouragement and also warning.

If anyone adds anything to the Word of God, God will add to him the curses and plagues recorded in here. If anyone takes away from the Word of God, God will take away his share in the Tree of Life.

1 Timothy 4:16? “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for rebuking, teaching, correcting, and training in righteousness.”

v. 20 “UNLESS…your righteousness…”

In conclusion, Jesus = our righteousness

Unless your righteousness beats everyone else’s on Earth for all time – (especially those professionally righteous Pharisees) – you won’t enter the kingdom of heaven.
“OH? Woah! OTL…”

Probably they were very surprised by this statement. 

At that time, the Pharisees tried with all their might to obey and keep the Word of God. They were “angels of holiness.” So the people thought that these were the standard they should follow.

In reality, in Jesus’ sight, it was the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who were actually abolishing the Word of God. By their hypocrisy and adding traditions to the Word of God, they were robbing the power of the Word of God. They were embalming the Word of God in their lives, so that there was no life in it nor them. 

Jesus exposed the truth. 

Here is a good illustration of that:

One day, some who were super arrogant and confident, Jesus said, “One day, two men went to church to pray. One is an awesome brother of yours, he stood in the middle of the square and prayed loudly. ‘Thank GOD I’m not like THAT dude~ I’m so awesome with my fasting and tithing!’ The other man was a big old sinner – tax collector. He couldn’t see heaven, bowed his head, and wept, and said, ‘God have mercy on me.’ The second man went home justified.”

He who humbles himself will be justified. (He who declares his unrighteousness will be justified by God.)

He who justifies his own righteousness will be declared unrighteous.

We cannot be righteous on our own.

Romans 3:20 “No one will be declared righteous by observing the Law.” (also Galatians)

We need ONLY Jesus Christ’s righteousness.

Romans 10:4 “Jesus Christ is the end of the Law so there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.”

“Jesus is our righteousness, our holiness, and our sanctification.”

Attaining Jesus’ righteousness = justification

3 points:

#1: Only by the Grace of God

(Romans 3:24 “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (3:23). We are declared righteous, we are justified freely, by God’s grace through the redemption that came through Jesus Christ.”

Redemption originates in the heart of God, not our own hearts. By admitting our powerlessness to attain righteousness, God provides it through Jesus.  

  • God had regard to our guilt.
  • God had regard to our misery.

The grace of God is the root for our justification, for our righteousness. Without a root, a tree cannot stand. But can you see it? No. The grace of God is the root of our justification.

#2: It is ONLY by the blood and power of Jesus.

  • Romans 4:24 “Jesus was delivered over to death for our sins and raised to life for our righteousness.”
  • Romans 5:9 “We have been justified by Jesus’ righteousness, how much more will we be justified – God is able to restore us to his favor.”

In justification, our sins are not excused, but PUNISHED – in the person of Jesus Christ.

The blood and resurrection power = the ground, foundation of our justification.

#3: It is ONLY by faith

Romans 1:5 “Therefore since we have been justified by faith through our Lord Jesus Christ, we have peace with God… 

Faith is not the ground – it is not FOR faith we are justified, but BY faith.

Ephesians 2:9 “It is through faith you are saved, not by works, so that nobody can boast.”

We must be better than the Pharisees in getting the righteousness of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

Jesus came to fulfill the promises of God, to reveal God as Father, and to save us from sin.

May God bless us. Let’s pray.