You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect (Matt. 5:48).
This should come as no surprise to you, but we can't "be perfect as our heavenly father is perfect." We will fail. We simply can’t, in our fallen condition, perfectly live out our faith and be holy.
Jesus, in his Sermon on the Mount, sets up an impossible barrier to works salvation. There is an unattainable standard here - a mountain that we simply cannot scale. What he is doing here is crushing us with law, and paving the way for the gospel.
Martin Lloyd-Jones writes, “The Sermon on the Mount… comes to us and says, 'There is the mountain that you have to scale, the heights you have to climb; and the first thing you must realize, as you look at that mountain which you are told you must ascend, is that you cannot do it, that you are utterly incapable in and of yourself, and that any attempt to do it in your own strength is proof positive that you have not understood it.”
When we come to the end of ourselves, we die – and this is good. Jesus is calling us to die so that he can resurrect us. This is right where Jesus wants us to be. Again, Matthew 5:48 is not a gospel passage, it is a law passage. It is there to drive us to Christ in desperation.
We need a savior, not a life coach.
The only hope that any of us have of meeting his requirement to "be perfect" is that someone "be perfect" on our behalf and give that record to us. What we need is what the Reformers called an “alien righteousness.”
Continued in Part 3...