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Intro: Ill. Barna Report: 88% of all Catholics and a vast majority of Methodists and Presbyterians believe if people are generally good and do good things for others in this life, that they can earn a place in Heaven when they die. Among Baptists, the figure was 27%. This was the attitude of the religious Jew during the time of Christ. People believed that good living and good works combined to guarantee salvation. Sadly, many in our day seem to have the same misconception concerning salvation and righteousness.

We live in a very religious age, where we are surrounded by many people who think that they can and must earn their way into Heaven by being and doing good. Perhaps, there are people in this room today who believe this same way. If what you were counting on to save your soul was wrong, wouldn’t you want to know it? In other words, if what you were trusting to save you wouldn’t, would you want to know? Anyone in his or her right mind would!

In verse 20, Jesus says that a certain level of righteousness is necessary before we can ever hope to enter Heaven. Today, I would like to tell you about the path to true righteousness. My purpose in preaching this sermon is to challenge you to look closely at your relationship with God so that you might know if you are truly saved, or simply deceived. My prayer is that the Holy Ghost will speak to hearts so that we all may know where we stand with the Lord.

I. v.20           GOD’S STANDARD

A. Ill. Some of the customs of the Pharisees – Phylacteries, 23:5; tithes, strict obedience to the Law; obsessed with outer cleanliness (Ill. Washings, social separation, etc.) Ill. These people lived to a higher standard than any person in this room! (Ill. Luke 18:10-14; Matt. 23:23). Yet, God says that we must exceed this level to be allowed access into Heaven!

B. It is possible to look good on the outside and be absolutely defiled inwardly, Ill. Matt. 23:25-28. (Ill. Criminal who was right with family and wrong with the law; Ill. Little boy who couldn’t get the window clean. He was cleaning the outside of the glass, when the spot was on the inside. Ill. This is a common human error!)

C. If good works and religious ritual can produce a religious exterior, but not a righteous interior, then what is Jesus talking about? Just what is God’s standard for admission into Heaven anyway? Absolute Perfection! The only hope any has of ever entering Heaven is to be a righteous and as holy as the Lord Jesus Christ Himself! That is God’s standard and it applies to all!


How does man measure up against God’s standard?

A. Man is declared to be a sinner by God – Rom. 3:23; Gal. 3:22; Rom. 3:10-18

B. The very best man can produce is flawed and corrupt – Isa. 64:6. (Ill. Even the great Apostle Paul did not want to face God in his own righteousness – Phil. 3:9. I ll. The works of Paul, Phil. 3:4-8. He knew his works could not save.And, neither can yours or mine!

C. At our very best, we fall far short of God’s standard – Jesus Christ. (Ill. Rom. 3:23 – "All have sinned" – "To miss the mark!" We have all violated God’s Law and stand guilty before Him – Isa. 53:6; James 2:10

III.               GOD’S SOLUTION

A. God know the depth and extent of man’s fallen nature – Psa. 103:14. (It is pure grace that prevents us from being destroyed in His anger – Lam. 3:22-23)

B. God knows man can never earn salvation or ever be good enough for Heaven. Therefore, He made a way whereby sinners could be made righteous and meetGod’s high standard.

C. God’s plan is a multiple step plan that is guaranteed to bring you into a state of true righteousness, holiness and perfect standing before God.

1. His plan is an old plan – Rev. 13:8

2. His plan involved a death – Ill. Calvary – 2 Cor. 5:14; 1 Pet. 1:18-19

3. His plan involved a resurrection – Matt. 28:1-6; Rom. 4:25.

4. His plan involves the conviction of sin – John 6:44

5. His plan involves the grace of God – Eph. 2:8-9; Rom. 5:20

6. His plan involves faith apart from works – Rom. 10:9-10; 13; Acts 16:31

7. His plan involves total justification – 1 Cor. 6:9-11 (Ill. Reckoned!)

8. His plan involves eternal life – John 10:28; Jn. 3:16; 1 Pet. 3:5

9. His plan involves an eternal Heavenly home – Rev. 21:4; 1 Cor. 2:9

10. His plan involves an ironclad guarantee – Heb. 7:25; Heb. 13:5  (Ill. Drowning sailor – "I’m not holding the rope, the rope is holding me!")

D. Man is not righteous, and could never earn righteousness. However, by simple faith in Jesus Christ, God declares us righteousness – Rom. 4:18-25.

E. Salvation is simple! It is just taking God at His Word and receiving Christ and His finished work on the cross as payment for your sins. Have you done this? (Ill. Too easy. Ill. Cake mix. Wouldn’t sale because all you had to do was add water. People thought it was too easy. Changed directions to add water and an egg sold like hot cakes!) People like to do something. Salvation, however, does not need your input. The job is finished, all you have to do is believe!)

Conc: 2 Cor. 5:10 makes it lain that one day, all men are going to face Almighty God. When that day comes, you have only 2 choices as to how you will be dressed. You can appear in the rags of your own filthy righteousness and hear Him say, "I never knew you, depart from me, ye that work iniquity." Or, you can appear in the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ and hear Him say, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord." Which will it be for you? How are you attired, spiritually speaking, this morning? If you are still in the rags of your sins and are unfit to stand before God, please know that Jesus loves you and will gladly save you right now, today, if you will only come to Him. Will you do it today?


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