A Superior Righteousness

The Lord Jesus Christ demands a righteousness from his subjects that is much greater than that of the law.

Rubén Chacón

"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" (Matthew 5:20).

If it is demanded of us that our righteousness must be greater than that of the Scribes, we need on the one hand to know what this righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees was, and on the other, what the superior righteousness is which we should manifest.

The passages that follow this answer that question. From verse 21 the Lord Jesus Christ begins to answer to what he was referring when he spoke of the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, and what that superior righteousness is to which we have to aspire.

Do Not Murder

Verse 21 says: "You have heard that it was said to the people long ago,: Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.' But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca!' is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell." Which was the righteousness of the Pharisees? The righteousness of the Pharisees was the righteousness of the law that, for example, said: "Do not murder." And that "Do not murder" was understood as "Do not physically murder another." Because he who murders another in a physical act of taking a life, then had to be brought to justice.

And which is the superior righteousness that is demanded of us as the King's subjects? That in the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, you should not even get angry with your brother, understanding that this anger is a sinful anger. In other words, in the righteousness of the kingdom to get sinfully angry against one's brother is equal to the "murder" of the law. Because although it is true that you don't end up physically murdering, when the anger is sinful, it is murder in the heart.

This is the superior righteousness that is demanded of us. But notice that the degree demanded increases: Nor should you say, ''Raca!' to your brother. Another version interprets this as, "you should not insult." Not only is it wrong to have sinful anger against one's brother, but nor should you even insult your brother. Nor can you call him, 'You Fool!' also interpreted as "nor should you curse your brother." Because to curse your brother exposes you to hell.

Dear brothers, we are contemplating no more and no less than the Lord Jesus Christ's righteousness. His teachings are: "You have heard that it was said... But I tell you." From now on govern what I tell you! What you have heard until today is fine, what they told you in the past was good. But now I am here. Now I have come, the King of kings, the Lord of Lords. The representative of the Kingdom of heaven, the one that embodies the Kingdom of God. And I tell to you that you are heirs of a superior righteousness. You are recipients of a greater righteousness. The righteousness of the law, the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees was only enough not to physically murder one's brother. Christ's righteousness says: "Nor will you get sinfully angry with your brother, you won't insult him, you won't curse him." Christ's righteousness is superior and it is greater. Blessed is the Lord!

Do Not Commit Adultery

Verse 27: "You have heard that it was said:: Do not commit adultery'." And once again the situation is the same. For the law -he righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees- adultery consisted of the physical act with a woman, but Christ comes, with a righteousness from heaven, and he says: "But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." Therefore, when one looks at a woman to covet her, this is now committing adultery. The Lord says: "If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away." This is not something that you can allow yourself. It is something that you have to cut out, it is something that you have to liberate yourself from. Because if we will take the words of the Lord seriously, to look with lust is adultery, and adulterers don't enter the Kingdom of heaven.


Verse 31: "It has been said:: Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.'" Once again, here the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees that says: "Do you have problems in your marriage? Well you can end the marriage! The only thing that you have to be careful in is to give her the certificate of divorce." The law said that with that certificate she could show that she was free and to marry another man.

The righteousness of Christ, much more glorious and perfect, says: "But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery." Christ's righteousness is a righteousness that doesn't break before any problem, that doesn't surrender so easily, that doesn't toss such sacred things as marriage, family or children overboard, for any given reason. Christ's righteousness values what God values and it fights until the last to save what God has established.

Love For Enemies

Verse 38: "You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth". When this law was introduced it was a tremendous advance in righteousness. Because in those times the retributions for an offense could bring punishment on the murder's entire family. (See Genesis 34) Therefore the law of Moses was introduced that says: Wait a moment, the vengeance should be proportionate to the damage. If the damage was that they took out your eye, very well, to the culprit we will take out his eye; if they knocked out your tooth with a blow, to the culprit we will knock out his tooth with a blow.

But Christ's righteousness comes and says: "But I tell you: do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you."

We are Placed in Problems

Brothers and sisters, what are we going to do with Christ's righteousness? We are not under the law. But (I don't know if you realize) we are placed in greater difficulty than those who are under the law. It is as a brother said: "If being under the law was like having to throw a railroad boxcar with our own strength, Christ's righteousness added nine more boxcars upon him." Because if you understood properly, and we read correctly, this means that the Lord made it even more difficult. So if I thought that up until this point I was not an adulterer, in light of Christ's righteousness I probably am an adulterer. And if I thought that I had not murdered anybody, it turns out that now, if I have insulted a brother, I am a homicidal murderer before the Lord.

Do you know how some have interpreted this? Some have told us: "don't worry. This is not for the church. Jesus brought the Kingdom to the Jews." I responded to this brother by saying, "All right, and what part of the Scriptures is for the church? Because that eliminates the Old Testament completely because we are not under the law, and the Gospels too because they are the words of Jesus Christ to the Jews. What then is for us? And he literally answered this way me: "For the believers, for the church, for those that are under grace, Paul's epistles. Not even Hebrews. Even Hebrews was left out! So they were left with a very small Bible. But notice that this interpretation has a certain logic, because if one doesn't know how to properly interpret this one is left in an even more complicated situation. What do we say about this word? How do we interpret it?

What we have here revealed is Christ's righteousness, it is the Holy One's righteousness, it is the righteousness of God. It is not a righteousness made according to man, but rather this is how God thinks, how God feels, how God sees.

Obtained Through Faith in Christ

The first thing that we have to say is that Christ's righteousness is reached exclusively through faith. It is not a righteousness that we are requested to complete in our own strength. If the law was already impossible, Christ's righteousness is even more so. Therefore, the only way we can access it is through faith. It is what Paul said: "That I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith" (Philippians 3:8-9).

So our only way of accessing Christ's righteousness is by believing in the Lord Jesus Christ. You don't have to bring any: 'a priori' merits, you don't have to bring any works: as a condition for...' You access Christ's righteousness through faith. By believing in him. By putting trust and your whole life in the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no other way.

It is a terrible mistake to think that we can stand firm in the gospel or in the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount, and in our own poor and weak human effort, seek to imitate the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us understand that it is a superior righteousness to that of the Scribes and Pharisees. Let us understand that it is a superior righteousness to the law of Moses. However, it is possible for you and for me through faith in Christ Jesus.

An Imparted and Perfected Righteousness

The point, dear brothers and sisters, it is that if we take the words of the Lord Jesus Christ seriously, we have to understand the following: that Christ's righteousness, which we obtain through faith, is not only imputed to us, it isn't attributed by objective forms (such as not having righteousness by our own merits or works). We have to believe, because the Lord's Word tells us, that this righteousness is imparted to us. It not only applies to us as an objective and external truth, but rather, that through the Holy Spirit, -who comes to renew our hearts- righteousness fills us from the inside and it reaches the heart.

The law, if you notice, in summary, is purely exterior. One only murders if they physically take another person's life. One only commits adultery if they physically sleep with another person. But the Lord says: No, I go to the heart. Your external acts don't interest me, I want to see what's in your heart. If you look with lust, then, in your heart you have already committed adultery. If there is anger and wickedness, and there is a wicked intention then there is already murder in your heart. What does this mean then? That Christ's righteousness is not only imputed, but rather by the Holy Spirit we are imparted from the inside. This righteousness comes to transform the heart. Hallelujah! This righteousness is now not only in Christ, in such a way that we don't just have to say: "we are righteous in Christ", but rather we can also say: "That righteousness now dwells in us through the Holy Spirit." That seed which was planted and sowed must be cultivated. Therefore Scripture says that holiness -we are saints in Christ- must now also be perfected in us. Righteousness not only justifies us in Christ, but that righteousness must be perfected in us.

What does that "in us", mean? That Christ's righteousness, little by little, must begin to show itself in the practical, everyday life, it must begin to appear in your actions, in your words, in your thoughts, in your motivations. "I will give you -the Lord promised, through the prophet Ezekiel- a new heart, and put a new spirit in you, and I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws." Do you see how that righteousness is internalized? Do you realize that this perfect and glorious righteousness did not remain in Christ alone, but rather that by the Holy Spirit was placed inside us?

Oh, this righteousness, which is impossible for me and is more difficult than the law, is already inside you. It is inside of me! Christ is inside us. I no longer live, but Christ in me. We no longer walk in the flesh; we walk in the Spirit. And when that happens, righteousness is shown in the practical life. Brothers and sisters, not that of the law, not that of the Scribes and Pharisees: This righteousness. Blessed is the Lord!

The Law is Silent

Galatians 5:22: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law." I don't know if it is the correct interpretation, but I like to imagine that last sentence, "against such things there is no law" in this way: it is as if he who is manifesting the fruit of the Spirit says: "The law will come against me no more, it will come to revise me." And what Paul is saying is: "Look, the law doesn't have any reproach. Where you see the fruit of the Spirit, the law is silent. It cannot accuse, it cannot condemn." What will the law of God say against self-control? What will the law of God say against gentleness, against love?

When the law comes to the one that is under Christ's righteousness, and says: "will we examine to see if this one has murdered: have you physically murdered anybody?" No! Then the law says: "But if this one has not only not murdered physically, then nor have they insulted their brother, they haven't cursed their brother." Then the law is silent, and retires with its tail between its legs.

Against Christ's righteousness, against the fruit of the Spirit, there is no law. There is a greater righteousness here among us: the righteousness that comes from heaven, Christ's righteousness.

The Fruit that the Lord Demands

Therefore, what fruit -beloved brothers and sisters- does the Lord not only hope for, but rather demand of us? Which fruit does the Lord hope for and demand from us? His righteousness! The righteousness which we are reading about here. Because the Lord has made it possible.

You don't have to say: "Who will ascend to heaven to bring it to me here below?" Because Christ brought it to you. It is not far from you: it is in your mouth and in your heart. It is here within us. We give glory to the Lord! The Holy One dwells in us! The Just One dwells in us! This is the fruit that we must give. We are governed by the "But I tell you."

Do you see the challenge that we have? How much more light do we have, with the firmness by which the Lord demands this of us. But more than a demand, dear brothers and sisters, let us see the heart of the Lord. Think of the many people in the world that are hoping to see righteousness in this way; and even think of the hearts of many small Christians that are yearning to hear confirmation about whether this is true or not.

Therefore, let us take this word and let us practice it. Let us practice it in our relationships. Spirituality cannot only be seen in meetings. It has to go home. It has to go to the intimacy with the wife. It has to show in the relationship with the children. And it has to go to the workplace and show Christ's righteousness amid the co-workers, and amid their school friends.

What do the subjects of the King say? Do we believe that that righteousness is here within us? We will let it be manifested. The flesh cannot manifest it. The Spirit is the only one that can manifest it. Blessed is the Lord!

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