“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:17-20)
In November 2013, a well-known evangelical Christian leader confessed to eight years of marital infidelity. Comments in the blogosphere ranged from unbelief to sneering jibes of hypocrisy. Hindsight could point to hubris and subsequent foolishness related to accountability within his marriage and leadership teams. However, hypocrisy is more than catching Christians in “great transgression” (Psalm 19:13).
By definition, hypocrisy is claiming to have higher moral standards than practice. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus makes it clear that in this sense we are all hypocrites. Who has not relaxed one of the commandments? Who has accomplished all the Law and the Prophets?
As Christians, we may be quick to admit that we are “sinners”, but internally we still judge like a hypocrite that believes that he is “better”. Like the Pharisee praying disparagingly about the publican near him in the temple (Luke 18:11), we fail to recognize that our righteousness does not exceed that of the Scribes and the Pharisees. As the above text begins, only Jesus fulfilled all of the Law and the Prophets.
Consider this the next time that you are tempted to frustration or resentment toward your family member, co-worker, friend, or acquaintance. Though they are a convicted rapist, murderer, pedophile, or liar, Christ fulfilled the Law and Prophets and went to the cross for them equally as you. No difference exists between our righteousness pre-Christ. Similarly, our current righteousness is only distinguished by Christ in us.