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Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.  (Matthew 5:48)

If a man could live the way Jesus has told us to in this chapter (Matthew Chapter 5), he would truly be perfect.

He would never hate, slander or speak evil of another person.

He would never lust in his heart or mind, and not covet anything.

He would never make a false oath, and always be completely truthful.

He would let God defend his personal rights, and not take it upon himself to defend those rights.

He would always love his neighbors, and even his enemies.

Just as your Father in heaven is perfect: If a man could keep just what Jesus said here, he would truly have a righteousness greater than the scribes and the Pharisees (Matthew 5:20), the very thing we must have to enter into God’s Kingdom.  But there is only one man who has lived like this: Jesus Christ.  What about the rest of us?  Are we left out of the Kingdom of God?

We see that in this section Jesus was not primarily seeking to show what God requires of the Christian in his daily life.  True, Jesus has revealed God’s ultimate standard, and we must take it to heart.  But His primary intent was to say, “If you want to be righteous by the law, you must keep the whole law, internal and external – that is, you must be perfect!”

Jesus has demonstrated that we need a righteousness that is apart from the law (Romans 3:21-22).  As Paul put it in Romans 3:21-22: But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe.

What is our current relation to the law, as truly interpreted?  We are exposed as guilty sinners who can never make ourselves righteous by our performance of good works – which was exactly the view held by most people in Jesus day – and in our own day.

We must remember the fullness of Jesus’ teaching on the law: our command is to love God and our neighbor, and the law will accomplish itself Matthew 22:37-40.

The fullness of the interpretation of the law will be honored by love: Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith (1 Timothy 1:5).

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