For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. -Matthew 5:20 NIV
The Sermon on the Mount often contrasts the external and internal compliances of Mosaic Law. In this sermon Jesus alludes to how sins like murder and adultery begin in the heart and sometimes cause external acts. And in this verse above he continues the thought that divine righteousness is not attained by external obedience to the letter of the Law.
Religious people, even learned leaders like teachers, sometimes forget that righteousness (that is not self-righteous) is an issue of the heart. It begins when righteousness is birthed in us when we are spiritually born. This newly born righteousness is alive. It is nurtured and matured as we grow in Christ. It surpasses all other forms of righteousness.
Center me Lord by your righteousness in me. Cause me to live in a righteous way that pleases you.
... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on words in the bible.