Have you ever been frustrated because those in authority over you did not give you clear directions? Similarly, if it’s not clear what the Lord expects of us, we become confused, discouraged, disappointed, and, in many cases, paralyzed. This is the question we want to look today: What is it that God wants us to do? What does God expect from His children? The primary way we fulfill our destiny to glorify God as those made in His image is through the practice of righteousness.
We must never rest upon our own merit to get us into the kingdom of God. It’s only by Christ’s righteousness that we can ever stand before Him. If God would mark our iniquities against us, we would perish in a moment (Psalm 130:3). Our righteousness is in Christ. Our justification is found in His merit alone.
But that righteous Savior, whose righteousness redeems us, is the very One who calls us to righteousness. Yes, we’re justified by faith alone, but not by a faith that remains alone. A faith that is alive will bring forth the fruits of righteousness. Jesus says, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15). That’s what it means to live in righteousness.
When Jesus says our righteousness must exceed that of the Pharisees, He’s not saying to keep the spirit of the law and forget the letter. He’s saying that authentic righteousness does what is right. It is right to read your Bible and pay your tithe and fast and pray, but if your heart isn’t right, then your external works are not considered righteous. God is concerned both with the external and with the internal.
We have been given the Holy Spirit to not only help us do the right thing, but to show us and lead us into righteousness. He is our righteousness. Since Jesus met the condition necessary for our entrance into heaven, we can be confident that the Holy Spirit leads us to do good works pleasing to God. That means, since God placed upon us the righteousness of Jesus, we have the righteousness that far exceeds any righteousness ever dreamed of by the scribes and the Pharisees.
Think of a recent time the Holy Spirit led you through a decision that initially you weren’t sure about. How did you know it was His Spirit leading?