“When your righteousness is lived outside of faith it is still on the righteousness of the Pharisees” 

Jesus said 

Matthew  5:20  For I say unto you, That EXCEPT YOUR RIGHTEOUSNESS SHALL EXCEED THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE SCRIBES AND PHARISEES, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

The question should be 

  1. Who are the scribes and the Pharisees? 
  2. What is is the righteousness of the scribes and the Pharisees? 
  3. How can we exceed their righteousness? 

To begin with

1. WHO ARE THE SCRIBES AND THE PHARISEES? 

Scribes are people that examine the more difficult and subtle questions of the law; added to the Mosaic law decisions of various kinds thought to elucidate its meaning and scope, and did this to the detriment of religion. 

Pharisees are people that sought for distinction and praise by outward observance of external rites and by outward forms of piety, and such as ceremonial washings, fastings, prayers, and alms giving; and, comparatively negligent of genuine piety, they prided themselves on their fancied good works. (From the Strong-lite, My Sword Bible) 

Seeing this also in the Scriptures we understand that they are teachers of the law and love to be praised by men. They love to point out the sin of others while they hide their own.They are high minded and are given to laws more than the law of God 

2. What is the righteousness of the Scribes and the Pharisees? 

In a sense the definition from the Sword Bible as stated it but let’s look at this from the word of God. 

Romans  9:31 But Israel, which followed AFTER THE LAW of RIGHTEOUSNESS , hath not attained to the law of righteousness.  

9:32 Wherefore? Because THEY SOUGHT IT NOT BY FAITH, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone;  

9:33 As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

The righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees are after the law of righteousness and they followed it but could not attained because they went not after it by faith but by works of the law. When they see you walk against the laws they come against you. They did that to Jesus a lot of times and Jesus replied them with wisdom. We have an example of the woman taken in the very act of adultery 

John  8:3 AND THE SCRIBES AND PHARISEES BROUGHT UNTO HIM A WOMAN TAKEN IN ADULTERY; and when they had set her IN THE MIDST,  

8:4 They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.  

8:5 NOW MOSES IN THE LAW COMMANDED US, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?

They are people that understood the righteousness of the law, the understood the laws of Moses and they know every due punishment when the laws are not followed. We see that they took the woman at the very act of adultery and brought her to Jesus, and the Bible said they brought her to the midst so that she can be judged according to the law of Moses but Jesus knew the law and He knew He has not come to break the law but to fulfill the law, so Jesus understood that no man will be justified by the works of the law 

Galatians  3:11 But THAT NO MAN IS JUSTIFIED BY THE LAW IN THE SIGHT OF GOD, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.  

3:12 And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.

He judged the woman not by the work of the law but by what the Father was saying concerning her at that time. Jesus knew that stoning her was the punishment but He had a better understanding that for that act that the woman was caught in He came that He might destroy the works of the devil in her. 

1 John  3:8  He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. FOR THIS PURPOSE THE SON OF GOD WAS MANIFESTED, THAT HE MIGHT DESTROY THE WORKS OF THE DEVIL.

The law of righteousness will have been much better if they could attain unto it and sought it by faith but they couldn’t 

Romans  9:31 But Israel, WHICH FOLLOWED AFTER THE LAW OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, HATH NOT ATTAINED TO THE LAW OF RIGHTEOUSNESS.  

9:32 Wherefore? BECAUSE THEY SOUGHT IT NOT BY FAITH, but AS IT WERE BY THE WORKS OF THE LAW. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone

The righteousness they walked in was by the works of the law. This is the reason they could not receive Him when He came, they knew He would come but they could not discern Him when He came. The righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees is the righteousness of the law and they didn’t sought it by faith but by the works of the law. Often blind folded by it and not opened enough to God. 

Another thing about their righteousness is that is born of zeal but is not according to knowledge, which we must place as caution in our walk. 

Romans  10:2 For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.

3. HOW CAN WE EXCEED THEIR RIGHTEOUSNESS? 

We have seen their righteousness then we need to see how to exceed their righteousness. 

(1) SUBMITTING OURSELVES TO THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD. 

“Whatever you submit to you’ll have access to enter into”

One of the things that the Scribes and Pharisees failed to do is to submit themselves to the righteousness of God, they were altogether ignorant of God’s righteousness

Romans  10:3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not SUBMITTED THEMSELVES UNTO THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD.

They went about to establish their own righteousness and have submitted themselves to the righteousness of God, no wonder Paul was saying that he won’t be found having his own righteousness.

Philippians  3:9  And be found in him, NOT HAVING MINE OWN RIGHTEOUSNESS, WHICH IS OF THE LAW, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:

You remember he was once a Pharisee so that you’ll understand the height at which he was talking that he won’t be found having his own righteousness, this is because they always go about to establish their own righteousness neglecting the righteousness of God which is by faith and this is deep ignorant that they have. 

Philippians  3:5  Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as TOUCHING THE LAW, A Pharisee;

We need to submit to God’s righteousness that He has made us to be in Christ Jesus. 

2 Corinthians  5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; THAT WE MIGHT BE MADE THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD IN HIM.

We see again that God has made Christ to become our righteousness 

1 Corinthians  1:30 But of him are ye IN CHRIST JESUS, WHO OF GOD IS MADE UNTO US WISDOM, AND RIGHTEOUSNESS, and sanctification, and redemption:

Understanding that you have been made righteous by the obedience of Jesus Christ 

Romans  5:19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so BY THE OBEDIENCE OF ONE SHALL MANY BE MADE RIGHTEOUS.

We need to submit to the righteousness that God has made us to be by Christ Jesus so that we won’t live in the righteousness of the Pharisees. 

(2) ENTER INTO HIS GOD’S RIGHTEOUSNESS BY FAITH. 

The righteousness of God is revealed through the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, as we peach Christ His righteousness will be revealed and its from faith to faith. 

“To enter into God’s righteousness must be by faith: if it is revealed by faith then it must be entered into by faith”

Romans  1:16 For I am not ashamed of the GOSPEL OF CHRIST: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.  

1:17 FOR THEREIN IS THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD  REVEALED FROM FAITH TO FAITH: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

We need to understand that the righteousness they had was according to the law which command them to obey the law and its ordinances but the righteousness of God is by the faith of Jesus Christ to whosoever will believe, they will enter into it. 

Romans  3:21 But NOW THE RIGHTEOUSNESS of GOD without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; 

3:22 EVEN THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD WHICH IS BY FAITH OF JESUS CHRIST UNTO ALL AND UPON ALL THEM THAT BELIEVE: for there is no difference:

We saw Peter talking about this righteousness which is by faith. 

2 Peter  1:1  Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that HAVE OBTAINED LIKE PRECIOUS FAITH WITH US THROUGH THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD and our Saviour Jesus Christ:

A man that entered into this righteousness and became an heir of it by was Noah, he was moved with fear at the word of the Lord. 

Hebrews  11:7  By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, MOVED WITH FEAR, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, AND BECAME HEIR OF THE RIGHTEOUSNESS WHICH IS BY FAITH.

“The practice of faith will grant us entrance into the righteousness of God”

As we have seen this we are expected thereof to keep and walk in the righteousness. 

Proverbs  2:20  That thou mayest walk in the way of good men, and KEEP THE PATHS  OF THE  RIGHTEOUS.

You can read the BECOMING A SON, AN HEIR OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD, you can also read this in relation to righteousness BENEFITS OF THE FEAR OF GOD thank you for reading.