Monthly Plan for HAL Region Aug 2017
July 10, 2017
Sermon series in October 2017
October 2, 2017

Jesus’s Teachings on Righteousness

JESUS’S TEACHINGS ON RIGHTEOUSNESS
Last week the sermon was about the Teachings of Jesus on Sin. Today’s sermon is on the Teachings of Jesus about righteousness.

All teachings of Jesus are amazingly wonderful. But one of the most loved portions of teachings of Jesus is called ‘Beatitudes’ which is part of his famous ‘Sermon on the Mount’.
Beatitude – means ‘supreme blessedness’. Jesus promised 8 blessings in the beatitudes.
One of the best part of the Gospel to learn and understand about righteousness is this part of beatitudes. So let us read:
Mat 5:6-10 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. 7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

First Jesus says : Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
In the world people are always hungry and thirsty for many things. People are seeking or trying out all kinds of pleasures to see if they can fill them or satisfy them. But unfortunately all sinful pleasures like smoking, drinking, drugs, sexual immorality, greed and all kind of indulgences leave them unsatisfied and with much of guilt, fear and shame. Instead of filling them they go away empty and feeling worthless and all that pursuit of happiness becomes purely meaningless.

But Jesus teaches the supreme way that God has prepared in advance for us to be filled – fully satisfied – to have the life to the full is by having the hunger and thirst for righteousness. Then God will fill us.
Once when God our creator who knows the best for us fills us we will be satisfied indeed. Nothing else will be required for us any more in this whole life – that means we will be fully satisfied! We will find the real fulfilment that we seek the real joy that nothing else can give us. So this is the ultimate solution for all our pursuits.

So according to Jesus only thing that we should pursue is RIGHTEOUSNESS.
Now the question would be – what is righteousness?

Well there may be many definitions but let us look at this passage and from this part of Jesus’s sermon we should be getting clarity on what is righteousness.

Jesus starts this section of Beatitudes with Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for
righteousness, for they will be filled. and ends the section with vs.10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

So what lies between vs.6 & 10?
7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

So what could be righteousness according to Jesus?
Being merciful
Being pure in heart
Being peacemakers

Biblical Scholars define righteousness as ‘performance record’. We also know the most righteous person ever lived or the person who had the best ever performance record on the face of the earth is Jesus.
If we study the life of Jesus what are the greatest qualities that stand out in him?
Aren’t they these three qualities?
Jesus was truly merciful and no one was ever better than him! He was merciful to his enemies who betrayed and tortured him to death!
He was truly pure in his heart to the point he asked his opponents – ‘can anyone find me guilty of sin’ and even his enemies couldn’t open their mouth and testify anything against him! So pure was he while living in a terribly impure world. Holy Spirit testifies that he was tempted in every way but was without sin. (Heb 4:15)

The whole reason that he took the form of a man and got crucified was to bring peace between mankind and God. Bible calls that process as ‘RECONCILIATION’. Jesus is the ultimate peacemaker! He is known as Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6)

So we can summarise or define righteousness through this brief teaching of Jesus that Righteousness is being Merciful; being pure in heart; being peacemakers.

Are we hungry and thirsty for these 3 qualities – to be merciful, to be pure in heart & to be peacemakers in our lives?

In the same chapter in the same sermon Jesus mentions few more things about righteousness. Next reference is:
Mat 5;20 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.

What did the Pharisees and teachers of the law consider as righteousness? Obedience of the law. Mostly it was the obedience of the Scribal law not God’s law. Scribal law was explanation of God’s law by men. That is what became their traditions! Their traditions became more important than God’s word to them.

Jesus challenged them so many times for their observance of such traditions and such traditions sometimes were opposing the commands of God and will of God.

Based on their traditions they even found fault with Jesus the real righteousness of God and the law giver and the true judge of entire humanity!

Pharisees and teachers of the law believed that by the strict observance of these scribal laws and traditions, they will be righteous and will enter the kingdom of heaven.
But Jesus says unless our righteousness surpasses the righteousness of Pharisees and teachers of the law, we will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

If this is something that determines our entry to the kingdom of heaven should we pay careful attention to it? Ofcourse because our final destiny and eternity depends on this!!

Now consider pharisees and teachers of the law – Did they show mercy to others? Were they pure in heart? Were they peacemakers? The answer is opposite isn’t it?
They were unmerciful – they were so punitive that they only thought about punishing any one who sinned – so they were unmerciful. They were so angry with Jesus because he treated the sinners and tax collectors with mercy!
They were impure in heart (Remember what we read last week: Mat 23:27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. 28In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.)
They were peace-breakers instead of being peacemakers!! They were not helping any sinners to reconcile with God rather their teachings and practices made people hate God and go farther from God! They misrepresented God to people and that made people to go away from God!
Peacemakers represent God correctly to people – they help people to see that God is merciful and kind. They give hope to the sinners – they teach that God is merciful and so He will forgive your sins and will give you salvation. This helps people to be drawn closer to God and get reconciled to God and live at peace with God.

Let us look at righteousness little more closely! Jesus explains more practically about each of these matters of righteousness in the same sermon. So let us read them and understand them.

BEING MERCIFUL
Mercy means : “quality in God that directs him to forge a relationship with people who absolutely do not deserve to be in relationship with him.”
It also means: ”kindness or good will toward the miserable and afflicted, joined with a desire to relieve them”
Mat 5:38-47 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
43“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

This is what it means to be merciful! Are we righteous? Answer can be yes only if we are merciful as Jesus expects here – so merciful we must be that we show the other cheek to the person who slaps us. We should be so merciful to love our enemies and pray for them. Jesus says any pagan or godless people can love those who love them and greet their own people! That does not make us children of God! To be a child of God we must have our heavenly father’s qualities – be merciful as he is merciful!

How are we today? Are we merciful like Jesus? Is there anyone that you have resentment, bitterness or hatred? Or is there anyone that you have not forgiven? Is there anyone that you find difficult to love?

If God is showering mercy on us by withholding just punishment on us because of our sins, we are called to show the same mercy to others who sin against us.

Mat 6:14,15 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Do you want God to show mercy to you? Then we must be merciful to others. God will be merciful to us in the same manner we are merciful to others.

Being merciful also means to have compassion on those who are in need – physically, emotionally and spiritually- and meeting those needs with generosity and love. {optional – Mat 25:35,36 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’}

James the brother of Jesus wrote in the same spirit of Jesus’s teaching : James 2:12,13 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

Do you want God to judge us with mercy? Then better we remember to show the same mercy to others.

PURE IN HEART
Mat 5:27-30 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

How pure we must be? Righteousness of the Pharisees & teachers of the law based on obeying the law ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ As Jesus expected us to surpass the righteousness of Pharisees & teachers of the law, he expects us to be so pure that we consider even lust as adultery and keep ours hearts pure according to the standard that Jesus set.

Pure in heart does not mean just keep away from lust, but also to have pure motives, be pure from self righteousness and hypocrisy.

PEACEMAKERS
There are two ways we need to be peacemakers – one is by bringing sinners to Christ and helping them to reconcile with God by teaching them the Gospel and helping them to accept Jesus as their Lord.
Second is to help people to reconcile with one another – this too is needed for people to be reconciled with God.

Mat 5:14-16 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Our righteousness is not for us to earn salvation but to make the Gospel attractive to people around us. By seeing our good deeds (righteousness) others must praise our father in heaven – that means they should become worshippers of the true living God.

That way we become peacemakers – helping people to reconcile with God.

Also Jesus said the following in the same sermon on the mount:
Matthew 5:23,24“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.

This is what it means to be a peacemaker –
Is there anyone that we need to reconcile? {pause for them to think}
It may not be only those who are far away from us but it may be even our own family members – parents, siblings, husband, wife…. Are we quick to reconcile?
We must be urgent to reconcile with others – be urgent to be peacemakers.

Considering these three factors of righteousness, the question is – Are we righteous? I am sure all of us are thinking it is so hard to be righteous! It sounds almost impossible!

Now the most important question – Can we make ourselves righteous?
What is your answer?
If we could make ourselves righteous we didn’t need a saviour! The truth is that we can’t make ourselves righteous! Then how are we going to be righteous?
That is why Jesus said – Mat 5:6-10 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

What we need to do is to hunger and thirst for righteousness – that means deeply desire for righteousness – be desperate for righteousness – then God will fill us with righteousness.
In the same sermon on the mount Jesus says again:
Mat 6:33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

When we seek God’s kingdom – not our kingdom – and his righteousness – not our righteousness – then not only that he will welcome us into his kingdom and also fill us with righteousness, but also will give all other things we need for rest of our lives. Isn’t it awesome?

Apostle Paul taught about righteousness in these Scriptures: Romans 3:21,22 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe

2 Cor 5:21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

What a blessing it is to have the righteousness of Jesus to be credited to us! This is the only way that we can be righteous. What is our part? We need to have the faith in Jesus, believe that it is he who is going to make us righteous. Secondly have the hunger and thirst for righteousness – desire to be righteous like Jesus. Then he will fill us with all righteousness – we will be able to be merciful; pure in heart and we can be true peace makers.

{Optional – John 14:12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.}

It is humanly impossible for us to be righteous, but the plan of God is for us to be righteous. How does he accomplish it? Jesus promises us that if we trust in him we will be able do what Jesus did and even greater things than them! He goes on to say that he will do whatever we ask in his name so that Father may be gloried in the Son!

Our father in heaven will be glorified when we get transformed to be like Jesus – when we become righteous like Jesus. When we are truly hungry and thirsty for righteousness, we will ask him, we will beg him and we will be desperate to seek his help and he will be more than willing to help us to have the fruits of the spirit produced in us in abundance! We will be transformed and so the world will know it is not our righteousness but HIS so they too will glorify our Father in Heaven!
Let us grow in our righteousness and through that glorify HIM.

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