None of us are perfect, nor do we possess the ability to live a perfect life. Yet the Bible teaches us that perfection is required in order for us to have a relationship with God.
- “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)
- “Be ye holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:16)
How can imperfect people have a relationship with a perfect God? There are many who think that they must “do something” in order to make themselves acceptable in God’s sight. Often, whenever I ask people about their relationship with the Lord, many will respond by listing the things they “do” and “don’t do.” In other words, they believe that they are somehow earning favor with God through their performance.
During Jesus’ day there were many who were trying to perform their way to heaven. They were called the Pharisees and they did everything they could to live according to the Law of Moses. Yet their attempt to be good wasn’t good enough. Jesus said: “Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt 5:20) No religious system of rules and regulations can qualify us to enter into God’s perfect heaven.
According to the Bible, the Law cannot make us right with God. The Law can only reveal how we are wrong.
Romans 3:20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
No matter how hard we try, we will never become acceptable to God by our effort to be obedient to the Law. How then can we hope to have a relationship with God? Paul tells us:
Romans 3:21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested… 22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe.
The way to become righteousness in the sight of God is not through our performance, but through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as God’s perfect sacrifice for our sins. Paul reaffirmed this truth with his own personal testimony: “Now I am right with God, not because I followed the Law, but because I believed in Christ. God uses my faith to make me right with him.” (Philippians 3:9 NCV)
Before his salvation, Paul was a very religious man. He actually said: “No one could find fault with the way I obeyed the Law of Moses.” (vs 6) Yet, although Paul looked to be perfect on the outside, he was still imperfect on the inside. He was as Jesus said of the other religious leaders of that day – “which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.” (see Mt 23:27) It was not until Paul stopped trying to earn his way to heaven and instead put his faith in Jesus Christ, that he found the way to true perfection.
“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” (Romans 5:1-2)