Seminary professor and author, Dr. Michael Horton, attended the National Christian Booksellers Convention in Denver, Colorado a number of years ago and asked the vendors a simple, but revealing question: “Does God require perfection?” Meaning, does God require that we be perfect in order to be in good standing with him now, and eventually experience heaven later? Interestingly, not one person responded with a “yes” to his question.
Nobody believed that God requires perfection.
However, the Bible is surprisingly clear that God does require us to be morally perfect. In a word, righteous. For example, Psalm 15:1 begins by asking a question, “LORD, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill?” He is asking who is qualified to dwell in God’s presence, whether now or forever. The answer follows in verse 2, where the Psalmist says, “He who walks blamelessly …” Translation: he who lives perfectly. He who is righteous.
It is as if the entrance requirement for heaven were a 36 on the ACT, a 1600 on the SAT or a 1.000 batting average. There is simply no room for error. And while there are those rare few who score miraculously high on standardized tests, the rest of us ordinary humans would not stand a chance for such a score. And we all would be leveled by a requirement to bat 1.000, since the all-time record for the highest career average in the major leagues is held by, Ty Cobb, whose lifetime average was .367. For baseball, hitting 36.7% is good, but it still is far, far from perfect. And God requires perfection.
Some of us might hear that and say, “Well, nobody’s perfect !” That is true. The problem is that the excuse, nobody’s perfect, is essentially a deep seated personal self-righteousness that is allergic to grace. Admitting to a lack of perfection appears humble on the surface. Actually, it reflects pride in the heart, because, while assuming that I may not be perfect, it believes that I am still pretty good and surely don’t deserve hell as a penalty for my faults.
We are usually okay with admitting bruises on the outside of the apple, but not confessing to a rotten core. However, the Bible has a more realistic view of humanity. Jesus himself, the ultimate psychologist, says that the outward things we do and say come from within—from the heart , the center of operations in the human soul. In other words, our human defect is not a surface problem. It is a problem at the very core of my being.
Our human defect is not a surface problem. It is a problem at the very core of my being.
It is painful to admit that depth of personal corruption. And yet, if we do, we are able to experience a depth of personal healing and hope that we never imagined possible.
This leads us to the heart of the gospel’s message in tomorrow's post.
Dr. McKay Caston
McKay Caston's passion is to help people live all of life in view of the cross.