[quote="Baseballguy, post:1, topic:326568"]
Matthew 5:20 - I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
I need some help understanding this. What does it mean exactly? Like what scribes and Pharisees is it talking about? Where can I find and read this. Is it saying that if you're not living to the standard of God you will not be allowed into heaven?
The scribes and Pharisees prided themselves on their holiness, sort of a contradiction in terms since holiness is only attained via humility. But they were sort of the quintessential hypocrites and Jesus often harangued them for it. At any rate their so-called righteousness was based on the law, which meant that it was merely a show or pretense of righteousness, a matter of their own efforts, "white-washed" tombs, as Jesus put it, clean on the outside while still filled with all kinds of filth on the inside. Jesus wants us clean on the inside first of all, which is why he said that anger and adultery come from the inside, from the heart; we must get our hearts clean first of all, then our actions will naturally follow suit; we won't need to pursue holiness at that point:
"Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean" (Matt 23:26)
We achieve this true righteousness by humbly turning to God, so we may commune with Him, His Spirit dwelling within, as is how He's always intended it to be. Only with this relationship is man just, is the universe in order, only then can man maintain true moral integrity. And this is the relationship Jesus came to restore, by reconciling man with God. The definition of holiness/righteousness/justice for man is love, which is why the greatest commandments are what they are. God's work is a work of creating beings who love as He does; this fulfills the law ipso facto. This is prophesied in Jer 31, recognized as one of the most important New Covenant prophecies:
*“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel
after that time,” declares the Lord.
“I will put my law in their minds
and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
34 No longer will they teach their neighbor,
or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest,”
declares the Lord.
Another is from Ezekiel 36:
24 “‘For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws
God wants man to be truly righteous, and He'll have His way, and scripture tells us no sinners enter heaven. After all, He didn't create man to sin to begin with.
"With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible". Matt 19:26. That's the basis of the New Covenant.