Today’s Scrip-Bit 31 October 2019 Matthew 5:20.

Matthew 5:20.    ​For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case (by any means) enter into the kingdom of heaven.
 

Oh, how I wish it wouldn’t rain…how I wish it wouldn’t rain…! An unfulfilled wish most likely, since they’ve forecasted lots of rain for this Halloween day. I believe they even considered postponing it until tomorrow due to the deluge expected. But in my opinion, they should just abolish the whole stupid, ungodly ritual because it’s just a celebration of evil and greed! When you have the ugliest, scariest and most inappropriate costumes for children; things like witches, ghouls, hobgoblins and the like being a big deal in the society, what does it teach them eh? And now there are also a whole lot of restrictions on what you can wear, what is culturally or religiously acceptable, that it makes a mockery of the whole thing. 

But what amazes me is we teach them that candy is bad for their health and well being, then we have a big celebration where they go out in the dangerous dark night to see who can collect the most candy! Who do you think eats it eh? The very same children who are taught that it’s bad for them. But I doubt it will be abolished anytime soon, even with it’s inherent dangers, since it strengthens the bottom line of the costume people, the candy makers and the dentists, politically powerful and monied groups in our society. 

That brings us to our Bit for this Halloween Thursday, very poignant and important words of Jesus to His listeners on the law, from the Sermon on the Mount. ‘For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case (by any means) enter into the kingdom of heaven.’ Now that was a heavy blow to those religious leaders for they were considered the creme de la creme of righteousness in their day. And the scholars obligingly explain. 

‘5:20. Because of the necessity of righteousness as a requirement to enter heaven, Jesus then declares that except their righteousness should exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees they could not enter heaven. The significance of this is seen in the fact that the Jews of Jesus’ day considered these people to be the most religious in all Israel. However, their religion was largely an outward show of self-righteousness. In communicating the depth of His message, Jesus used a series of contrasts between the outward behaviour demanded by the law and the inner attitude of the heart desired by God. Here we discover the practical application of the Christian character to true spiritual living. Here we see the gospel in action.’ 

And sadly, nothing much has changed to this day; there are still a lot of religious leaders; modern-day scribes and Pharisees who only offer lip service and outward show to the true tenets of Christianity. Meanwhile, their inner man is more attuned to the things of the law, of the world, than those of God. Here’s a list of the contrasts between living under the Law and living by the Spirit as provided by the scholars. ‘The Law says No murder, the Spirit, No anger. No Adultery…. No Lust. No Divorce… Commitment. No oath-taking… Speak the truth. No retaliation… Forgiveness. Hatred for your enemy (tradition allowed it) … LOVE for your enemy (commanded).’ 

Yes my faithful brethren, the Law isn’t basically wrong, but the demands of the Spirit carry us to a higher level of spirituality and righteousness. And it’s that high level we need to enter the kingdom of heaven. I didn’t say so, our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ said it long ago, and nothing has happened since to change it. And after expounding our Bit to His listeners, Jesus then went on to individualize the stuff that we just wrote. He then taught on Anger, Adultery, Divorce, Oaths and LOVE for enemies. (Matt.5:21-48) 

Ah friends, it’s sad and rather unfortunate that we’re living in such a sinful and unrighteous society these days. No wonder we’re at such a low ebb, in ALL aspects of life. There’s absolutely no situation in which we can say we’re winning! Even the fools who are trying to throw God out of our society will eventually lose, though they seem to have the upper hand now. Please pay attention though to these momentous words of Cousin Sol: ‘Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach (shame or disgrace) to any people.’ (Prov.14:34) And the scholars explain: ‘14:34. National righteousness and national sin have opposite effects: exaltation versus reproach.’ No wonder we have national reproach, because our society is as sinful as eternity is long. 

And Bruh Paul made it clear to the church at Rome when he talked about zeal but no righteousness. ‘For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law of righteousness to every one that believeth.’ (Rom.10:3-4) And the scholars explain: ‘10:4. Christ is the end of the law: Israel mistook the purpose of the law. The law pointed to the righteousness that is attainable only by belief in Christ. Israel also mistook the scope of the law. The righteousness to which it pointed was universally available to all who responded to God’s revelation of Himself through the law. But by Paul’s time many had substituted works for faith. Rather than seeking redemption in God’s mercy, they pinned their hopes on their own religious achievement.’ 

And that’s still happening on too large a scale today my people. It’s true that faith without works is dead, (James 2:17) but works alone will get us nowhere either! Let’s remember that nuh and proceed to build up both our faith and works through righteousness in Christ Jesus. Now let’s go home declaring (yeh!) our enabling Thursday Blessings. As one, in strong voice and sincere sense of purpose. ‘I declare that I am blessed with God’s supernatural wisdom and receive clear direction for my life! I declare today that I am blessed with creativity, courage, talent and abundance! I am blessed with a strong will, self-control and self-discipline! 

I am blessed with a great family, good friends, good health, faith, favour and fulfillment! I am blessed with success, supernatural strength, promotion and divine protection! I am blessed with a compassionate heart and a positive outlook on life! I declare that any curse or negative word that’s ever been spoken over me is broken right now in the name of Jesus! I declare that everything I put my hands to will prosper and succeed! I declare it today and everyday! Amen!’ And let’s also remember that they are for generous sharing, not selfish hoarding. (smile) Much LOVE!

…without true righteousness…we shall never see God…

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