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The Daily Word of Righteousness
God's Unfolding Plan, #6
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. (Matthew 5:20)
If the new covenant is designed to make us more righteous, more holy, more obedient to God, more compassionate, than was true of the old, and if God's grace is the most important aspect of this superior covenant, what, then, is grace?
Grace, under the new covenant, includes the forgiveness of our sins through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul placed emphasis on the imputed righteousness aspect of new-covenant grace because he was resisting the teaching of the Jewish instructors. Paul was showing that we are saved, not by the works of the Law of Moses but by the grace of God, by the gift of righteousness that comes only through the blood of Christ.
But new-covenant grace includes infinitely more than imputed righteousness, as essential to our redemption as such ascribed righteousness is.
New-covenant grace includes the body and blood of Christ, the born-again experience, the dwelling of the Holy Spirit in us, the writing of God's laws in our minds and hearts, the forming of Christ in us, and the coming of the Father and the Son to dwell in us.
By grace we have been called, justified, and glorified, and God's grace now is fashioning righteousness, holiness, and obedience in us. God's grace has given to us the writings of the New Testament and the power of the Spirit to practice what is written. Also, God has given us the power to bear witness of the atoning death and triumphant resurrection of Christ.
Through God's grace we are being created in the image of Christ (Romans 8:29).
None of the above was given to the saints of the old covenant, and yet the Holy Spirit employs them as models for us—models of what it means to be justified by faith (Hebrews 10:38 and 11:7).
The total authority and power of God Almighty are available to enable us to serve God excellently in the world. The blood has opened the veil so our prayers are heard by the Father in order that we may receive whatever mercy and grace we need to help us to practice righteousness, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God.
Much more has been given to us than was given to the saints of the old covenant. Much more is required of us than was required of the saints of the old covenant.
Our actual righteousness of behavior must exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees. He that is least in the Kingdom of God is greater than any of the prophets. They without us cannot be made perfect. Many who are last in time will be first in the Kingdom of God.
The new covenant contains so much more grace than was given to any of the patriarchs and prophets that God expects us to come much closer than they to the ideal of Micah 6:8. God fully expects kings and priests to be formed by the operations of the new covenant. Divinely-imparted grace working through our living faith will bring forth the royal priesthood, the Wife of the Lamb, the Body of Christ, the eternal tabernacle of God, which is the center of government of the Kingdom of God.
To be continued.