I grew up playing sports under the tutelage of some good coaches, including my dad, all of whom taught me how to play and perform. I played on some teams that excelled and achieved great victories for personal and team accomplishments. I was expected to work hard, be a team player, listen to constructive criticism from my coach, be a good sport, and never show up an opponent. I was expected to always do my best, and generally did.
God demands a lot from us as well. The Scriptures say He demands absolute perfection, with no hint of compromise. He will not look at a list of good deeds, encouraging words, athletic achievements, tearful prayers, religious acts, even moments of self-sacrifice with any special care. You and I could argue, even plead that, “We are doing the best we can, or know how,” but that won’t sway Him either. The Bible is clear that if you are not perfect, there is no heaven for you. That is the human race’s really bad news about God.
When it comes to being accepted by God and becoming His child, Scripture says He does not look at us or our good deeds based on our current status. The prophet Isaiah thundered to the Israelites that what they thought were good deeds were actually “filthy rags” in comparison to God’s holiness (Isaiah 64:6). Because of original sin, everything we do or say is stained badly, no matter how good we think we are.
Yet all of this applies to the time in our lives before we acknowledged Jesus, the Son of God, as our reconciler and representative before God the Father. The Older and Newer Testaments present Jesus as the only human being who lived a perfect, and sinless life. Scripture argues that since Jesus took all of our sin (even our sin-stained “good works” on Himself on the cross, shed His “true” blood, and then died in our place, God the Father now sees His perfect Son when He looks at those who have trusted in Him. The Father, who demand perfection in us, sees only perfection in us – because we’re seen by Him in a new light, through the lens of the perfection Jesus made available for us. That is the human race’s really good news about God.
It all started long, long ago in a manger. That’s why Linus stated it the way he did when he described the real meaning of Christmas to Charlie Brown: “It is good news of great joy, that today a Savior has been born…” Matthew’s recording of Jesus’ words in 5:48 that, “Be perfect therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” is now possible.
Read Ephesians 2:1-10.
Once you are secure under the blood of Christ, how does that affect your behavior? Since each of us still struggles with our old sin nature, we will not be perfect, right? Yet Scripture says that by grace through faith, “We are His workmanship, created in Christ to do good works, which God has prepared in advance for us to do” (Eph 2:10).
Have you accepted the sacrificial death of Jesus with its promise of eternal life as the covering for your sin? If not, what is holding you back? Are you seeking to learn how God wants you to use your life and gifts (with His power) to build His Kingdom, not yours? Walk wisely. When you become a follower of Jesus by trusting in what He has done for you, you become perfect in the Father’s eyes. Merry Christmas.
Love is a verb,