The Standard of Moral Performance (#75)

One of the sobering truths clearly and repeatedly presented in the Bible is the truth that all human beings will stand before the living God and give an account for their moral performance. Most people scoff at this notion and go on living in whatever reckless way they want, but the daunting reality is that you and I will give an account for what we have done in this life. (Hebrews 9:27; Romans 14:10, 12; 2 Corinthians 5:10)

But if a person is willing to consider the biblical truth of a final judgment and think about that for a second, the statement will frequently be made that “I am basically a good person.” “I may not be perfect, but I am at least as good as most people,” or “My good far outweighs my bad.” One of the most common responses to this idea of judgment is, “Well, nobody’s perfect,” which presumably means something like, “Since nobody’s perfect, then we are all being judged on a relative scale and on a curve and my performance is relatively as good as anyone else’s, so I will be okay at the judgment. God will understand that I am only human and so He won’t mind my little sins. God grades on a curve.” And it is remarkable how all my sins are “little sins.” Other people are murderers and drug addicts and child molesters, but all my sins are little.

There are, however, at least two fatal flaws in the line of thinking given above. First, at the Judgment when we stand before the throne of God and give an account for our lives, we will not be judged on a relative scale. We will, instead, be judged on an absolute scale where the acceptable standard is sinless moral perfection for our entire life from birth to death. The existence of a single sin will result in eternal condemnation. The God of the Bible is perfectly holy and as such has a holy hatred of all sin. He punishes and condemns all sin. So it is a fatal flaw in my thinking to believe that the one true and living God will judge me on a relative scale. Sinless perfection is the only acceptable performance.

But the person may then object and say, “That’s not fair. No one is perfect and so it is not fair to judge me by an impossible standard that no one has ever achieved.” This reveals the second fatal flaw, for, in fact, there is one who has perfectly fulfilled the Law of God in its utmost requirements. There is one who has lived His entire life without ever committing one sin in thought, word or deed. There is someone who is perfect. There is a Man who has lived on this earth, who was born under the Law (Galatians 4:4) and who perfectly fulfilled the Law. No longer can it be said that the Law is impossible to obey in its fullness, for Jesus Christ the righteous one never sinned. (Hebrews 4:15; 2 Corinthians 5:21; John 8:46) Thus Jesus Christ has “busted the curve.” Jesus Christ has set the standard of moral performance.

So when anyone speaks of relative moral performance and says that “at least I am not as bad as _____,” they must be made aware of the fact that they are not being compared with the moral performance of another fallen human being. Rather, the moral standard for every human being who will ever live is the moral performance of the Lord Jesus Christ. That is the expected performance and it is His perfect moral obedience that will be the standard by which you will be judged. So if you are going to make it to heaven on the basis of your own moral performance, you need to be aware of what you need to achieve.

Jesus is the standard of moral performance.

If you have followed me so far, the next question must be, “If Jesus is the standard of moral performance, and I realize I fall hopelessly short of that standard, how can I ever escape the judgment of God? How can I not be consumed by the wrath of God at the judgment when I am sinful and have broken God’s Law?” That is the beauty of the gospel, for through faith in Jesus Christ you can be forgiven of your sins and can actually be viewed by God as being as righteous as Christ. For those who will put their faith and trust in the Lord Jesus, His righteousness is imputed to their account and their sin is imputed to Christ’s account and is nailed to the cross. “God made Him who knew no sin (Christ) to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Cor. 5:20).”

How does your moral performance compare to the sinlessness of Christ? What will happen to you at the judgment? Can I urge you to flee to Christ and call upon Him to cover you with His righteousness?
3/30/2015 RMB

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