How good does a person have to be in order to be saved? Can any of us ever be good enough? Perhaps we can best answer that question by asking, how perfect is God?
Jesus said, “You are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).
The LORD God told the children of Israel, “You shall be holy: for I the LORD your God am holy” (Leviticus 19:2; cf. Deut. 18:13).
The Hebrew word tam or tamim means to be “without defect” or “without blemish.” The Hebrew sacrifices had to be “without blemish,” spotless and entirely without defect (Exodus 12:5; 29:1; 1 Pet. 1:19; Eph. 5:27). Another word shalem means “whole” or “complete.” That which is without defect or blemish is complete.
God’s righteous standard never changes because He does not change. God is the perfect standard or He would not be God.
Jesus used the word “perfect” (teleioi from telos) meaning end, goal, limit. It is the absolute standard of our heavenly Father. Such a person is perfect or fully developed “in a moral sense.” Therefore, in the moral realm it means “blameless.”
Jesus is the perfect example of that divine standard (1 Peter 2:21-25).
The word “holy” in Leviticus 19:2 gives us the reason for the sacrifices under the Mosaic law. God is holy and man is a sinner. Sin separates man from God. The source of our sanctification is “the LORD who sanctifies you” (20:8). The meaning is to set apart or separate.
God’s standard for man is complete, perfect, moral personality development. He wants you to be perfect. He will raise you as one of his children in his family and when you mature you will be morally perfect even as He is perfect!
To be acceptable to God every human being must be as blameless and sinless as Jesus Christ.
That standard of righteousness creates a moral and spiritual crisis for all mankind. The Bible tells us we have all sinned and fall short of such moral perfection. “There is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). God’s standard is a clean heart and it is evident from studying the Sermon on the Mount that no one can live up to its demands (cf. Matt. 5:20-25, 27). The center of our personality condemns us. Jesus said, “Out of the heart proceeds evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornicators, thefts, false witnesses, slanders,” etc. (15:18-20). It is the heart that has to be changed (2 Cor. 5:17).
We all have the same problem. We all are sinners. No one, but God Himself as Jesus the Christ, has kept God’s law perfectly.
God’s law is stringent. If you break the law you are a criminal and deserve a punishment. The punishment is the second death! Only the pardon given to you freely by Jesus the Christ can rescue you, not just from this Earthly madness, but from eternal condemnation. It is written: . “The wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23).
No one will ever get to heaven by his or her own efforts because no human has ever met God’s perfect standard.
God never lowers His standards to accommodate sinful man. His absolute holiness is the standard. He will not accept half-way or half-hearted obedience. God is infinite in His perfections. A wise person wants to reach that perfect standard and with it gain capabilities unimaginable.
Jesus said (Matthew 5:48,) “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” We shall be raised to “completion, full-grown, lacking in nothing.”
Wait! Lacking In Nothing? As capable and perfect as is God? That is truly unimaginable, and awaiting YOU!
Jesus Christ went to the cross and died as a sacrifice for our sins so that we could have the opportunity to beg forgiveness, confess our sins, request to be adopted into God’s Family and be raised to perfection by God through The Christ Jesus. (And that is what the true Gospel is all about – and I suppose no one ever told you.)
“The wage of sin is death,” but indeed Jesus was tortured and died your death on the cross. In this way He made it possible for you to be ONE with Him and God. That’s what atonement is about.
Based on the atoning sacrificial death of Jesus Christ as our substitute, God can now save us by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. God credits us then with the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ. God dealt in full with our penalty by sending Christ to the cross to die for us. Those who believe on Christ, (“believe on” means to rely upon, cling to, trust in) God the Father and Judge declared us acquitted (not guilty!) based on the saving work and the power of the sacrificial blood of the one and only Christ.
Never tell yourself you can’t be good enough because…
Every Christian struggles with holiness in his life, and all of us will until we see Jesus Christ face to face (Phil. 3:12-16).
God makes us holy by changing us from the inside out (2 Cor. 3:18). It is a progressive cleansing and setting aside or “sanctification,” not a once-for all sinless perfection before we die.
The ultimate goal of the believer is to live in harmony with Matthew 5:48, and “to be as perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect.” This is a monumental picture of a perfection beyond one’s imagination. Yet, it is the promise a perfect God lowered his eyes to give to we helpless dust beneath his feet. Praise his Holy Name. No human would have ever done that!
He intends that we shall be established “unblamable in holiness before God, our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints” (I Thess. 3:13).
It is to those who strive to attain the goal that the victory is assured. We will reach the ideal goal of perfection when we see Jesus in glory. It will be the perfect gift to the believer (Psa. 17:15); Phil. 1:6; 3:12; II Tim. 4:7, 8; Rev. 21:27; 7:14).
Holy, Holy, Holy art thou O Lord Our God. Receive us by the power of the sacrificial blood of Jesus Our Christ, Amen.
Dr. Stephen Newdell, drawn from inspirational notes at http://www.abideinchrist.com