Therefore be perfect, even as your Father who is in heaven is perfect.
— Matthew 5:48
Now it is clear that horizontally we can look around ourselves and we can see there are some people who, morally and ethically, stand head and shoulders above others. Therefore, we can see that they are superior. Some people are more righteous than others; they shine in comparison. However, vertically, it is different. There is one prayer you never want issued from your lips, one prayer you never want to utter, and that is: “Lord, give me what I deserve.”
God does not grade on the curve. He doesn’t say we are good compared to our neighbors. He judges by perfection. If you’re not perfect, then you can’t go to heaven. But then who could possibly get there, since no one’s perfect? No one. No, not one.
Martin Luther said the most damnable and pernicious idea that has ever plagued the minds of men is the idea that we sinful, fallen, depraved creatures could ever make ourselves good enough to stand in the presence of an all-holy, sin-hating God. But God has provided a way to get rid of our sin by punishing it on His own Son. The Old Testament tells that God has devised means by which His banished ones, who were expelled from the Garden because of their sin, should not ultimately and totally and finally be separated from Him. These means are called “the Gospel,” “the Good Tidings,” “the Good News” of the love of Christ and His death and resurrection.