“Well, nobody is perfect” is a phrase we have all said at one time or another. The saying is true because we’ve all sinned (Romans 3:10,23).
It is interesting to note, that it seems Jesus commands us to do what everyone believes to be impossible. “Be ye therefore perfect, even as you Father which is in heaven is perfect,” – Matthew 5:48.
If we make the mistake of not looking at the verse in its context, we lose the meaning of what He was trying to say.
The verse is part of the sermon on the mount, which takes up chapters five, six and seven of the book of Matthew. If you dissect the sermon down into sections, you will see our “perfect” verse is at the end of the second section.
After the Beatitudes, the first section, Christ tells us, “Ye are the salt of the earth,” and that we “are the light of the world.” After this, He tells us He has come to fulfill the law (Matthew 5:13-14,17). Then six times He mentions a commandment, tells them it is something they have heard, but he has something else to say on the subject. The six commandments deal with murder, adultery, divorce, taking an oath, an eye for an eye; tooth for tooth, and the teaching to love our neighbors and to hate our enemies.
By going through these six commandments, Jesus explains how we are to be the light of the world and how He fulfills the law.
Each time Jesus reveals that simply obeying something God tells you not to do, is not good enough. The condition of our heart is what God is trying to mold.
Space prohibits me from going through all six, so we’ll look at two.
From what Christ says about adultery it is clear that God is looking at our hearts just as much, if not more, than our actions. “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart,” – Matthew 5:27-28. He then uses the illustrations of plucking out our eye and cutting off our hand to explain if there is something causing us to sin; we need to get it out of our lives (Matthew 5:29-30).
In the particular case of adultery, if there is a woman you can’t keep your eyes off of, do what is necessary not to be around her. If you continually have a temptation to steal, keep yourself out of situations where you handle other people’s money. You get the idea.
By taking these precautions, you are exhibiting a heart that desires not to sin.
Christ is laying the groundwork to get to His point – to be “perfect” we need a God-like heart.
In His sixth example, He sums it up. “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” – Matthew 5:43-45.
Remember, Christ is speaking of us being the salt and light of the earth and the fulfilling of the law. He tells us to love our enemies and show love and compassion to those that hate us and treat us awful. Notice that He said we do these things, “That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven.”
He is not talking about salvation because salvation is not by our works ( Ephesians 2:8-9) and He uses the words, “your Father.” God is Father to the saved (John 3:3; John 8:44).
The closer our heart is to the heart of God, the more we act like His children. We become “chips off the old block” and people will see our Father in us. Our heart, manifested in our lives, makes us the salt of the earth and the light of the world. This type of heart is the heart Christ had that fulfilled the law.
Preacher Johnson is pastor of Countryside Baptist Church in Parke County Indiana. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: www.preacherjohnson.com. E-book: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00TUJTV2A If you email, inform me where you have seen Preacher’s Point. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.