An accusation often leveled against Christians is that they are self-righteous, or “holier than thou”. Perhaps there are some who come across this way, especially in the political arena. Anyone who truly understands the Word of God and the gospel, however, realizes there is no one who can claim to be perfect, truly good or better than anyone else. After all, “nobody’s perfect”. This is seen nowhere more clearly than the Sermon on the Mount. The scribes and the Pharisees were indeed people who were self-righteous and had a “holier than thou” attitude. Jesus challenged them with the true standards of God’s holiness to demonstrate no one can live up to them on their own. With that in mind we come to consider an astounding statement by Christ found in Matthew 5:48. One writer introduces his chapter on this verse this way:
“At an early point in the Sermon on the Mount the Lord Jesus Christ taught that if a man is to enter heaven he must possess a greater measure of righteousness than the righteousness possessed by the scribes and the Pharisees, the most religious and respected men of his day. As He taught this doctrine a person might easily have said, “You teach that a man can enter heaven only if his righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and the Pharisees. All right, then, how much in excess of their righteousness must the believer’s righteousness be? If the Pharisees can be credited with having attained seventy or seventy-five percent of the standard, what must our goodness be? Is seventy-six percent sufficient? Or is eighty percent necessary? How good must a person be to enter the kingdom of heaven?” (James Montgomery Boice)In answer to these questions we read Jesus’ amazing words:
Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:48)Read the complete study.