I don’t know if you been to the gym recently when a Mr or Mrs Super Fit enters and proceeds to lift twice as much weights as you. Suddenly your own paltry success is turned into miserable failure!
Raising the bar!
Likewise, I want to raise the bar of holiness for all my christian friends who are still believing that we should try and keep the Law of Moses in order to produce holiness. Be assured though, my purpose is not to humiliate you. No, my purpose is to bring you to a total despair of your own self-righteousness!
Are you better than a pharisee?
Jesus himself was the first to raise this bar, being completely sinless himself. Imagine this: I believe Jesus didn’t even think sin! He not only did no sin; he knew no sin. Jesus then, was ideally placed to raise the bar on holiness and burst the balloon of the scribes and pharisees – who mistakenly thought they were doing quite well. Jesus ‘rains on their parade’ by pointing out that in fact, their righteousness was good but not good enough to make it.
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 enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
A higher standard
On the other hand, the sinners, who were despised by the pharisees, had no such grand illusions. They knew they had missed the pass mark by a mile years ago. It was to them however, that Jesus preaches pure grace. On the contrary, to the scribes and pharisees He interprets the law to a higher degree of exactitude to demolish their self-sufficient righteousness. For example, Jesus said: if a man even looks on a woman then he’s committed adultery!
In other words, even thinking sin is sin! That’s the level of holiness God requires!
Matthew 5:28 “But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart”.
Jesus also said love the Lord with ALL your heart. Can any one of us hand on heart say that we have done that every day!
A young man meets his maker
To another young man in Matthew 19 – who claimed that he had kept all the commandments from his youth upward – Jesus said sell all you have and give to the poor! Maybe this man was like (or was) Saul of Tarsus who became Paul the Apostle, a pharisee of the pharisee who actually made it further with the Law than anyone else in his day claiming to have kept it faultless.
Philipians 3:6 “Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.”
However, the same man in Romans 7 is totally defeated by the Law. Later on in Romans, Paul nails the final nail in the coffin of self-righteousness, when he says: “what is not of faith is sin” (Romans 14:23) whose going to be perfect at that one then?
James, also points out that its not only the things we do wrong that matter but also the things we should do that we fail to do!
James 4:17 “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”
So, if you still think you can live the Christian life by your works of righteousness, repentance and confession; then you are sadly mistaken and have not yet learnt how powerless you are in the flesh. Even worse are those who somehow think they have reached a state of sinless perfection. John says to such:
1 John 1:8 “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us”.
No, you need a saviour not only to save you from your sins but a saviour to save you from your sinful flesh or the body of death you are carrying around!
In conclusion, the believer is called not to keep the Law and there bye improve the flesh but to die with Christ, to die to the Law and live anew in the power of the spirit – a supernatural life!
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