20 For I tell you that if your righteousness should not exceed to be greater than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall in no way enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.
One of the objectives in teaching people to drive is that they should pass their driving test. This test has a set standard and a failure to meet the requirements of that standard will result in the pupil failing the test. In order for the candidate to be allowed to drive unaccompanied means that they must meet that standard.
Other people may have their own standards of driving, which they may consider to be safe, but the standard that really counts is the one set out by the Driving Standards Agency. Any other standard misses the mark and is not good enough.
Jesus tells us that the standards of the scribes and Pharisees are insufficient for entering into the Kingdom of Heaven.
Their standards were exacting. They went into great detail as to what it meant to keep the requirements of the Law of God delivered to Moses. They considered themselves to be righteous and holy. Yet Jesus says that our standards must exceed their standards.
Does this mean that we must have a higher set of rules, laws, and regulations?
Mankind is quite good at formulating laws by which everyone is expected to live. Yet we all know that laws do not change the hearts of people.
God’s word tells us that no one can reach the standard that God has set.
Imagine driving test candidates being told that no one can reach the DSA’s standard of driving. This would mean that no one would pass the driving test.
Yet this is what God’s word tells us:
For all have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious standard – Romans 3.23 (NLT).
We all miss the mark (the definition of sin).
Of our own accord we stand no chance of exceeding the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees.
What hope is there for us?
The following words give us the answer:
For God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and to satisfy God’s anger against us. We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed His blood, sacrificing His life for us – Romans 3.25 (NLT).
Each day it is God who brings us up to His glorious standard, through the Holy Spirit living within us.