Superficial righteousness—a purity of life which is only skin deep—is categorically rejected in the kingdom of heaven.
Jesus cannot be any more plain spoken and unambiguous about this, for He said, “For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven…You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell” (Matthew 5:20, 27-30).
Ponder carefully upon how intimately connected genuine righteousness and purity of heart are:
- Genuine righteousness does not have a superficial concept of sin. Both the outward act of adultery and the inward desire of lust which spawns it are sinful.
- Genuine righteousness prioritizes cleanness of heart. Elimination of lust—the taproot of adultery—will always eliminate adultery—its illicit fruit.
- Genuine righteousness acts promptly, decisively, and drastically when dealing with impurities in the heart. A right eye which seeks to feed lust and a right hand which abets it are removed as members of your spiritual being so that your heart can be righteous.
- Genuine righteousness has a distinct accounting system. Holiness and heaven are considered more profitable than the passing pleasures of sin and hell.
- Genuine righteousness understands that going to heaven does not happen by accident. Purity of heart only comes through purposeful, determined living. The path of least resistance always leads to hell.
“Pursue…holiness, without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).