[Jesus said] “For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Heaven Is for Perfect People
Devotion based on Matthew 5:20
See series: Devotions
It might surprise you, but it’s true. Heaven is for perfect people.
But if we’re honest with ourselves, we must admit we’re not perfect. True, most people can avoid committing the kind of heinous felonies that end up as breaking news. Most of us will never be the subject of a crime docudrama. Many people manage to be considered helpful neighbors by those who live next door. But getting through life without committing a capital offense—or, conversely, accumulating a long list of friends—doesn’t mean you’re perfect. Frankly, no one’s perfect.
But Jesus tells us, “unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” At the end of Matthew chapter 5, he says again, in no uncertain terms. “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (verse 48). Do you want to get into heaven? Perfection is the only way.
So does that leave us out in the eternal cold? It would if Jesus hadn’t come to save us from our sinful selves. You see, what we cannot do, Jesus can do. Indeed, he has done it. Jesus is “a lamb without blemish or defect” (1 Peter 1:19). He’s perfect, sinless, and completely righteous.
But he’s not perfect for his own sake. He’s done it for us, for everyone. You want to be perfect? You are and will be in Jesus—forever. Sinners who acknowledge their imperfections but then throw themselves before God’s mercy, seeking forgiveness, receive perfect forgiveness in Jesus alone.
How is that possible? St. Paul tells us. “God made him who had no sin [Jesus] to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness [perfection] of God” (1 Corinthians 5:21). In other words, because of who Jesus is and what he has done, God declares you perfect in his sight. We switch places with Jesus. We can confidently believe that heaven is ours, not because we’re perfect, but because Jesus is. And his perfection is our perfection.
Believe it. It’s true!
Jesus, help me see that you are my perfection, my guarantee of heaven. Amen.