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If a person isn't saved by good works, then explain 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 the kingdom of heaven?

You will notice that the word "righteousness" is in the singular so is not referring to DEEDS that they do but to what they ARE in character before God. Their righteousness, or right standing before God, was self-righteousness. The works they did they thought would bring them in right standing with God. These works were produced by their own obedience to the Law and other traditions. So the Lord is saying that you must have more than a self-produced righteousness to be right with God. Rather than this verse implying good works to be acceptable, it is saying the opposite.

Jesus says here that self-righteousness, like that of the Pharisees is not enough. Isaiah 64:6 God says, "...all our righteousness is as filthy rags." What righteousness is He talking about? It is found in 2 Corinthians 5:21, "For He (God) made Him (Jesus) to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the RIGHTEOUSNESS of God in HIM" Now here is a righteousness that EXCEEDS that of the Pharisees. This is imputed to anybody that put their trust in Christ as Saviour from sin. Romans 4:5, "But to him that WORKETH NOT but believeth on Him that justifieth(declares one right)the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness." Paul could say, "And be found in Him (Christ), not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is OF GOD by faith" Philippians 3:9.

Can you say that?

All comments and questions to: Harold Smith

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Updated March 7th, 2014 by Sandra Felix