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In a word, yes, a person has to be perfect to inherit the kingdom of God, or before he is allowed to enter Heaven.  God, Himself, is perfect and cannot allow the presence of sin in Heaven.  Romans 3:23declares, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”  We have ALL forfeited our right to dwell with the Lord in Heaven because we have all sinned and are far short of being perfect.  How can we, then, become perfect so that we might go to Heaven?   

It is important to see that the Old Testament law could never perfect anyone.  Hebrews 7:11says, “If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?”  We go on to read in Hebrews 10:1-4, “For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.”  All the Old Testament sacrifices were but types of Christ.  They, in themselves, could not take away sin, they could not bring perfection.

What about our own noble efforts?  Can we attain perfection by ourselves?  No, even our best efforts to make ourselves perfect are only garbage in the sight of God.  Isaiah 64:6tells us, “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.”  When we try our absolute best to be perfect, our acts of righteousness are filthy in God’s sight.  It’s useless.  We cannot perfect ourselves.

Well then, if we have to be perfect to enter Heaven and the law and our good works can’t make us perfect, how can we make it to Heaven?  Let’s allow the Word of God to tell us.  Hebrews 10:10-14says, “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.”  This is how we are made perfect; it is by the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ!  It is when we bow our knee and put our faith in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ that Hebrews 12:23refers to us as, “…just men made perfect.”  Romans 5:9teaches us, “Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.”  To be justified, is a word that is similar to being perfect.  It means to be ‘rendered righteous’.  It is through the shed blood of the Lord Jesus on Calvary that we are able to be made perfect, justified, and righteous.

In the scriptures, we often refer to truths that are ‘practical’ and truths that are ‘positional’.  There is both a ‘positional’ and ‘practical’ sense to our being made perfect.  What we have had before us is ‘positional’ truth.  That means our position before God is that He sees us as perfect when we have Christ as our savior.  In the ‘practical’ sense, we still have sins.  The Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 3:12, “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.”  Paul realized that he had not reached ‘practical’ perfection.  Indeed, none of us will while we are living in the flesh.  We need to be careful to seek to live lives free from sin and confess our sins when we commit them.  But, thanks be to God, when we are saved, our position before God is that being ‘in Christ’ we are perfect and fit for Heaven.  As the Lord Jesus prayed to His Father in John 17:23, “I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.”  (139.1)