Covering up a Rash
The Gospel goes to the deepest recess of the human soul and changes who we are. That alone changes what we do.
‘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 you go to a physician because you have a rash on your face, he or she will look at the rash only to help make a diagnosis and identify its source. If the rash itself were the problem, you could take a make-up kit and paint your face to hide it! But the rash is not the problem, it is only the symptom!
Our behavior is only the symptom of our hearts. Behaviour modification does not resolve our issue with sin, that is only painting the rash. When the people heard Jesus tell them that their righteousness should surpass that of the Pharisees and Scribes, they would have been astounded. The Pharisees and Scribes were the models of righteousness and disciplined living.
The problem with the Pharisees and Scribes was that they were only concerned with symptoms. They kept the outside looking good, but inside they were full of anger, malice and sin. Jesus goes to the inside, to the heart!
He changes what we are and then, as a result, changes what we do.
Superficial righteousness is like make-up – it hides the problem, but doesn’t address the underlying needs.
Bible in one year: Acts 4 | Joshua 24