Matthew 5:20 For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall by no means enter into the kingdom of the heavens.
Philippians 3:7-10 But what things were gains to me, these I have counted as loss on account of Christ. 8 But moreover I also count all things to be loss on account of the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, on account of whom I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as refuse that I may gain Christ 9 And be found in Him, not having my own righteousness which is out of the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is out of God and based on faith, 10 To know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,
To live a life that takes the way of righteousness is to live, work, and act according to God, but, what does this mean?
The first part of living in the way of righteousness is to obtain righteousness objectively. This happens through our repenting of our sins and believing in the gospel of Jesus Christ. He died for us and if we confess our sins and believe in Him, then we receive Him as our life and God counts us righteous. This righteousness is not based on any of our doings, but it is altogether based on Christ’s doings. We call this our objective righteousness.
The second part of living in the way of righteousness happens when Christ continues to live in us, through us, and out of us. Anything good that comes out of us without our living Christ is not righteousness. Only that which comes out of the Christ in us is true righteousness. This is what we call our subjective righteousness.
In the Old Testament, people followed an outward law, something they thought would govern their behavior. The scribes and Pharisees attempted to keep the old law through their natural life (without Christ). When we come to Matthew chapters 5 through 7 the uplifted law of the kingdom is revealed. However, the New Testament shows us a new way, a new way to live that is different from the Old Testament. The new and uplifted law of the kingdom requires a new life – the divine life. Having this new life and living by it is the way of righteousness. This way actually fulfills the entire law.
What about Baptism?
Baptism was introduced at the beginning of the New Testament indicating a great change from the old way to a new way. The way to live righteously before God is to terminate our old, natural life and receive a new life and live by it.
The righteousness we are speaking of here is not something that we must work out—it is altogether something that is from Christ and is even Christ Himself.
Through the baptism of death we are terminated in the flesh; through the germination of Jesus’ baptism we are regenerated to be joined to the God of resurrection. The highest righteousness in the whole universe is termination and germination. If we want to achieve this highest righteousness, we must be terminated and then germinated by God. (Crystallization Study of Matthew, Message 6, Andrew Yu).
We encourage you to go to the Lord, praying about these things, even as you read the verses and consider the points in the attached slides below.