Heaven Requires Perfection

Humans strive for perfection. We chase the winds of infallibility only to fall short again and again. And when we come to the realization that perfection—I mean, perfection—will never happen, we lower the standard.

Instead of attempting to be perfect in mind, thought, and deed, we resort to our new definition of perfection.

But there’s a massive problem. God demands perfection. And it’s not our definition, society’s definition, or your colleague’s definition. It’s God’s definition. As Matthew 5:48 attests, “Be perfect, therefore, as your Heavenly Father is perfect.”

It’s kind of like what Coach Herman Boone (played by Denzel Washington) said in the iconic film Remember the Titans:

We will be perfect in every aspect of the game. You drop a pass, you run a mile. You miss a blocking assignment, you run a mile. You fumble the football … you will run a mile. Perfection. Let’s go to work.

Take his quote and apply it to your life. You will be perfect in every aspect of your life—thoughts, words, and actions. We must never have impure thoughts and can’t ever speak an ill word. We certainly can’t commit any wrongful action against another person. As Odd Thomas of Beautiful Euology says, “The smallest white lie is enough to be indictable.”

There are two ways we can respond to God’s standard for holiness. Many resort to legalism. They lower God’s law to fit their ability to perform and add extra “laws” to ensure they feel like they’ve been good enough. Then, once they feel as though this imaginary standard has been met, they feel holier than thou and make it a point to enforce their legalism on others.

Others, however, resort to despair. They see that God demands perfection and know that can’t be achieved. Which is a good start; but then they become hopeless and distraught.

But here’s the problem with both of these responses to God’s demand of perfection: it misses the work of Jesus Christ.

The Bible teaches that all those who repent of their sins and believe in Jesus will be saved (Mark 1:15). This is not our own doing, but a gift of God—so we may not boast (Ephesians 2:8). Salvation is, at its foundation, of the Lord (Jonah 2:9). We had nothing to do with it, for it was God who saved us.

And here’s where it gets amazing. The perfection God demands is provided in the life of Christ. Jesus lived a sinless life, perfectly pleasing to the Father (Hebrews 4:15). Not only that, but we know He died for our sins. When God saves sinners, all our sins—past, present, and future—are absorbed by Jesus on the cross; further, His perfect righteousness is credited to our account.

This solves our impossible dilemma! Friends, there’s no need to try to measure up, to put up a front, to keep performing. Jesus paid it all! And His righteousness life, when we believe in the gospel, is credited to us!

It doesn’t get better than that.

Must we be perfect to enter the kingdom of God? Yes. But the righteousness demanded is credited to us by the Lord Jesus Christ. It is not our own, but a forensic righteousness—outside ourselves. We cannot claim that we are perfect by ourselves, for we never will be. Even our good deeds are like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6).

But because of Jesus Christ—His perfect life, sacrificial death, and victorious resurrection—we can have peace with God and receive the perfection God requires!

If you enjoyed this blog post, you might be interested in my new book, Taking No for an Answer: How to Respond When God Says No to Our Prayers.

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