Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Matthew 5:27-48 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; 28 but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell.
31 “It was said, ‘Whoever sends his wife away, let him give her a certificate of divorce’; 32 but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
33 “Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not make false vows, but shall fulfill your vows to the Lord.’ 34 But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God,35 or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil.
38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also.41 Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
James 2:10-13 says: Whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all. For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not commit murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but do commit murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment. In today’s text Jesus speaks about the error in the way we judge the sin. God’s standards are higher than the standards of people. We all have a tendency to judge sin based on our own experience and our own doctrines. We tend to judge the sins of others more harshly than our own. As a person who has been divorced and remarried, I have faced questions regarding what the scriptures say. Please understand, I am not minimizing divorce. God indeed does hate divorce and it is sin in His sight. But of all the people who have questioned divorce and remarriage for myself or others, as they quote scriptures, I’ve never heard them include what Jesus says in today’s text: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” In Matthew 7:1-3 Jesus says: “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” How often, when we see, point out and judge the sin of others, are we trying to avoid dealing with the sin in our own lives? Jesus says: “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:5) In today’s text He says: “If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell.” That’s how serious we are to be about our own sin and the things which lead us into temptation.
For myself, as I have truly sought to see, understand and remove any log related to divorce from my eyes, so that I can see clearly, I first and foremost once again acknowledge that God views divorce as sin. So I do not attempt to excuse or justify my sin. Instead I believe and adhere to what it says in 1 John 1:8-9: If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Jesus died once for all. He paid the price for every sin of every person, even mine and even yours. I love to look at the genealogy of Jesus listed in Matthew and Luke. The line of Christ is traced through David, who was himself a murderer and an adulterer. Even before David and Solomon, the son born of Bathsheba, we see liars, cheats and drunkards; we see incest and every type of sin and sinner imaginable. In the line of Christ we see both Jews and Gentiles, righteous and unrighteous people. After all there is no other kind. As Romans 6:23 says: All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. We can of course trace the generations of Jesus human lineage all the way back to Adam and Eve, and the original sin. I believe we see all of these various types of sin and sinners, not because God says sin is okay, but rather because through Christ every sin is forgiven and every sinner redeemed. Everyone who confesses their sin is forgiven and cleansed of all unrighteousness.
In the text Jesus says: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?” Most of us have a hard time even truly loving our friends and our families. I guess perhaps regarding love you could say what Jesus says in Matthew 19:26 is true: “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” We can only truly love because we are loved by God. 1 John 4:19 says: We love, because He first loved us. Jesus says: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment.” (Matthew 22:37-38) Before we can love others, before we can do anything good, we must love God because He first loved us. In today’s text, Jesus ends saying: “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” In the beginning, God created us in His image and likeness. We were created to be perfect like Him. God neither causes or condones the sin in our lives, But Romans 8:28-30 says: We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. God knew us before we were formed in our mother’s womb. Jeremiah 1:5 says: Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you. We saw how seriously we are to take our sin and the things which tempt us. May we also understand how seriously God takes our redemption. God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
Thank You heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ and precious Holy Spirit; that regardless of what it is, if I confess my sin You are faithful and righteous and You cleanse me from my sin. I am conformed; reformed into the image and likeness of Christ. Through the cross I am forgiven and made perfect in Your sight. Help me always to remove the things which cause me to stumble so that I may be perfect in You. Amen.