Be Perfect

Matthew 5 records the first portion of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Jesus lays out the distinctive marks of a Christian, and he does this with strong and decisive statements.

Consider these strong words: “For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” 5:20; “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” 5:48

At a first glance these words can be very discouraging. The Pharisees prized themselves in following every detail of the law. They were considered the godliest ones of their day. And then in verse 48 Jesus raises the bar much, much higher. He says we must be perfect because this is the standard and character of God the Father.

How are we to live up to this standard of perfection? We cannot. None of us can be perfect. None of us can live a life that is sinless of thought, word, and deed. In fact, we cannot go a few hours without sinning, let alone a lifetime.

But we are not without hope. We know the end of the story, something Jesus’ original audience did not know. He became our substitute, our Savior. Jesus fully bore the wrath of God for our sins and God credited us with the righteousness of Christ. When we believe in Jesus’ finished work on the cross this glorious exchange takes place, and God sees us as perfect.

Be encouraged this day by this glorious news.

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