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Nathan Richards brings us this week's hypothetical letter based on a big word that ends in -tion. (Listen to the talk.)

Dear Steve,

I was really pleased to receive your last letter telling me all about the different groups and events your involved with both at church and also the university CU.

Thank you also for being so open to me about the struggles your facing now in the Christian life but also the feelings of guilt from your past. As you said in your letter the guilt of relationships that went too far physically in the past and drunkenness that led to arguments, and as you said ‘letting Jesus down publically’ still seem to overshadow a lot of what you do now.

Just last week as I listened to a sermon online a famous and well respected preacher opened up Matthew 5:48, ‘you therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect’. As he carefully explained Jesus’ preaching on hypocrisy, murder and lust I felt the lump in my throat growing. All of those deepest sins that I hope nobody would ever find out about, that I tried to erase from my mind came flooding back.

Similarly to you Steve, I felt I had let God down, myself down. How could I be telling others about Jesus and leading Bible studies when I was so messed up myself?

After reading through one of the gospels, God showed me that the demand of Matthew 5:48 is impossible. It drove me to see my sin and to desire a saving rescue. But isn’t that the point!

Allow me to share with you the following encouragement based on 2 Corinthians 5:21:

For our sake he made him [Jesus] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

 Often we hear that when we accept Jesus into our life as Lord and saviour, our sins are forgiven. This is of course true but only half the truth “For our sake he made him [Jesus] to be sin who knew no sin….

But the glorious other half of the truth is that we are credited with Jesus’ perfect righteousness. ….so that in him we might become the righteousness of God”.

So we fail to live out Matthew 5:48 but Jesus didn’t fail and because of the cross we are clothed in his dazzling perfection (righteousness).

So by having the righteousness of Jesus given (imputed) to us, we can be perfect, as God is perfect. It is not, therefore, our perfection, but His. So Steve, dwell on this amazing truth, that when God looks you, He sees the holiness, perfection, and righteousness of Jesus.

This of course doesn’t mean you should keep on sinning, or doesn’t wipe out the consequences of the times when you were drunk or when you had sex outside of marriage. But above anything else you can know with confidence, “I am perfect, as God is perfect.” Thank you Jesus!