Law • Devotion 4

Woe to You
Donna Fox

The scribes and the Pharisees were Jewish leaders and teachers during Jesus’ time on Earth. They talked the religious game, but their hearts and motives were not godly.
 
Matthew 5:19-20 says, “Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

In the culture at that time, the scribes and Pharisees were the “standard” to follow for behavior. Yet they were hypocrites, outwardly conforming to the Law, but inwardly having impure hearts. Matthew 23:3 says, “For they preach, but do not practice.” Their “walk” did not match their “talk.” Jesus is saying that our righteousness must exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees. Theirs should not be the “standard.” Jesus is the “standard.” He is our example, what we strive to be like.

Righteousness, and being “good enough” to get into Heaven, can only come through Jesus. Being a good person in and of itself will not get you into Heaven. Acting righteous, like the Pharisees, will not get you into Heaven. Knowing the Law or Bible inside and out, like the scribes, will not get you into Heaven. Heaven’s standard of righteousness is beyond human capability. It can only come through Jesus. You must accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior and have a personal relationship with Him. He must be a part of your daily life, not just an hour a week on Sunday morning. It is through a changed heart with the right motivations that you will “exceed[s] that of the scribes and Pharisees” and “enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Matthew 23:13, 15, 16, 23, 25, 27, and 29 say, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” It was repeated seven times, which means we should pay particular attention. This is important!

Scribes and Pharisees were very knowledgeable about Jewish law and tradition. They scrutinized Jesus and His teachings very carefully. Yet in the end, Jesus triumphed over all!
 
Is Jesus saying to you, “Woe to you {insert your name here}?” Or is He saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant?” (Matthew 25:21). If you are not sure, I invite you to reach out to any of The River Church staff to discuss this further. Your eternity depends on it!


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