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We Are Called to Be Perfect, and Why That Can Be Either Bad or Good News

Hello friends. I wrote this today after a short window of time in which I heard from several different Christians that we aren’t perfect, and aren’t meant to be perfect. While I understand that sentiment, I would like to explain why true believers in Christ have been made perfect as far as our legal standing before God, are called to be perfect, and are being made perfect (which has always been the goal of God in creation). Only God is all-powerful and all-knowing, so by perfect, we don’t mean we will know everything and do everything God can do. But we are supposed to now, and will in fact one day, do perfectly what God has designed us to do. This is a complicated topic so it is understandable why this would be confusing and hard to articulate. I hope these verses of Scripture will help equip you in your discussions with other Christians. 

1. God, through the Old Testament sacrifices showed us a form of perfection, the lambs being spotless, and pointed to true perfection coming: Jesus

  • Lev 22:21 “And when anyone offers a sacrifice of peace offerings to the  Lord to fulfill a vow or as a freewill offering from the herd or from the flock, to be accepted it must be perfect; there shall be no blemish in it.”
  • “They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things.” (Hebrews 8:5)

2. Jesus was and is perfect (not less perfect than the spotless lambs, but more so). Being spat on and sinned against since he was born was all part of the sacrifice he made and the “blood” he shed as the Spotless Lamb. 

  • John 1:29 “The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
  • Heb 7:28 For the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever. 
  • Heb 5:9 And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him,

3. The Law of God is also perfect

  • Psalm 19:7  The law of the  Lord is perfect, reviving the soul;  the testimony of the  Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
  • “Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven” Jesus (Matthew 5:19)

4. We are called to perfectly obey God’s good law. Since we don’t, (1 John 1:8) that is why the Law is called “The ministry of death” and the “Ministry of condemnation” 

  • For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life: Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses’ face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory? For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory. Indeed, in this case, what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that surpasses it. ( 2 Corinthians 3:6-10)

5. But make no mistake, we are still called to perfection:

  • “You therefore must be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” – Jesus (Matthew 5:48)
  • “Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” (Mat 19:21)
  • Peter reminds us God said, ““You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:16
  • Strive …for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14)
  • “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord and may please Him in every way” Colossians 1:10
  • “walk in a manner worthy of the calling…” Ephesians 4:1

6. This is why we need Jesus. We’re doomed without him. We are called to be perfect. Only Jesus supplies this for us. And we have received this perfection and righteousness of Christ by faith

  • Heb 12:23 and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect,
  • For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
  • We’re now completely free from the power of the entire Law like a woman is free from her dead husband (Romans 7) and a child grows up to be an adult and is free from their guardian (Galatians 3).

7. So we do not despair of not yet being perfect, because we know His grace, and we know we have a perfect legal status before God and are being perfected by Him Himself: 

  • James 1:4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
  • 1Cor 13:10 “but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.”
  • Phili 3:12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.
  • “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13)

This is the gospel. God made us good. We have all broken his commands. Our sentence for those crimes is death. But God has loved us so much that without ceasing to be God, he became the man Jesus Christ, died on the cross, paying the fine owed for our sin, and rose from the dead, that all who turn and trust in him will rise with Him to eternal life.

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