From the Heart

When Jesus said “unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” he was not instructing us to do more things. Remember this is from the Sermon on the Mount and is in the context of examining the heart. He goes on to equate anger with murder, lust with adultery, giving our word with integrity, and loving our enemies. He then naturally speaks about hypocrites, or “play actors,” those who “fake it til you make it.” He takes us deeper than behavior. Attempting to force others to do things (law, punishment, programs, steps) without focusing on proper motivation is shallow conformity at best. Legalizing morals is ineffective if there isn’t already a foundation of ethical rationale, as we’re seeing clearly in our own society. Natural law dictates that we can only go so far in establishing consequences for actions against civilization. Built into us, through nature, is a conscience which signifies order and obedience. Our deepest need is to mirror, magnify, and mimic the Lord. Without the Spirit’s guidance we’re blind to how to actually accomplish that so we either deny (Romans 1 says “suppress the Truth”), diminish or demand relief for our inability. The Gospel is our remedy and rescue. The gift of faith leads to living for Him from our hearts. “Thanks be to God for His indescribable Gift.”

Published by

Jim Pocta

Psychotherapist/Biblical Counselor in Dallas. I’m a follower of Jesus, husband to Linda, father to three wonderful sons, father-in-law to three incredible daughters-in-law, grandfather to three amazing grandsons and granddaughter, and an elder at New St. Peter’s Presbyterian Church.

4 thoughts on “From the Heart”

  1. I completely agree with your assessment that Jesus was not instructing us to simply do more things when he spoke about righteousness exceeding that of the scribes and Pharisees. He was calling us to examine our hearts and motivations, to go deeper than just surface-level behavior. It’s interesting to consider how this message applies to our modern society and the ways in which we try to enforce morality. As you pointed out, simply imposing laws and punishments without a foundation of ethical rationale is ultimately ineffective. So my question is, how can we go about creating a society that is truly motivated by ethical principles, rather than just superficially conforming to the rules? And how can we encourage individuals to examine their own hearts and strive for genuine righteousness, rather than just going through the motions of following the law?


    1. I’m not sure our responsibility is in “creating a society” motivated by anything. We are only commanded to “go” “baptize” and “teach.” We are to love others by sharing the Gospel and leave society up to the Lord. It’s above our pay grade. The first century church suffered and lived out the Gospel and that turned the world upside down. Happened again in the Reformation. I don’t worry about society, I just love my neighbors and let the Spirit do His work.


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