Matthew 5:17-20. At 13 years old, I walked out of church with no intention of coming back. I’d heard that I wasn’t good enough and couldn’t do enough for the last time. I was tired of feeling guilty for my sins and being told that I simply needed to try harder. I knew a relationship with my loving Father shouldn’t feel like a burden, and I allowed this experience to keep me out of church for the next nine years. Too many churches try to meet the standard of righteousness in Matthew 5:20. As a result, they often neglect to mention the good part of the good news of the Gospel: The Pharisees’ righteousness was surpassed by the love and grace of Jesus when he died on the cross for our sins. Forgiveness through Him is a gift, and the only thing we have to do is receive it. When we focus on modifying our behavior instead of Jesus’s sacrifice, we shift the responsibility for salvation away from Jesus and onto ourselves. We make Christianity all about acting the part, and we push away the one person who can truly make things right. Our best efforts are weak, like filthy rags, according to Isaiah 64:6. Relying on our own ability will always leave us falling short. It’s only when we trust in Jesus alone for salvation that we can feel secure in our right standing with God.]]>

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