It is true that we will never be perfect in this life, but
the perfections outlined by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount are still those for
which we should aim and that we should increasingly attain by God’s grace and
the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
We are to aim at Christ-like character. Jesus said,
“Therefore you are to be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew
How good must a person be to stay saved?
I am a sinner. Nothing I will do will ever be perfect.
What can I do to be saved and to keep saved? Since self-efforts will not save
us, we must receive the perfect righteousness that God has provided in the
atoning substitutionary death of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 5:21).
Only the LORD God is perfect, and He works to perfect
How does God work to perfect sinners? There are three
Biblical facts we must keep clearly in mind.
1. We are sinners, and there is no denying that fact. Sin
is an offense against God, and He cannot ignore it. Sin has to be dealt with
completely according to His just standards. This is why God the Father sent God
the Son to die for our sins. Jesus bore the penalty for our sins in full, and
canceled all claims of God’s justice against the believing sinner forever. God
punished our sins on the cross of Jesus. “By one sacrifice Christ has made
perfect forever those who are being made holy” (Heb. 10:14). Have you believed
on Jesus Christ as your Savior?
How perfect must a Christian be? The Christian believer
must guide his life by the perfect, ethical standard of Jesus Christ. Jesus
said, “You are to be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:48).
2. The second principle we must keep in mind is that from
the moment we believe on Jesus Christ as our Savior, God begins a work in us to
perfect us in this life. At the new birth, we are given a perfect standing
before God in one sense, but it is also true that we are far from perfect in our
The apostle Paul distinguishes between two ways the word
“perfect” is used in the New Testament. In Philippians 3:12 he writes, "Not
that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on
so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ
Jesus" (Philippians 3:12). Paul has in mind here absolute perfection
– God’s perfect standard, absolute spiritual maturity, fully-grown just like
Jesus Christ. It is the same idea that Jesus Christ spoke of in Matt. 5:48,
"Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Matthew
In the next sentence Paul tells us that even though he has
already been declared acquitted before God on the basis of his faith in the
atoning sacrificial death of Jesus Christ, he is still in the need of practical
daily work of being perfected in Jesus Christ. "Brethren, I do not regard
myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies
behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for
the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many
as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different
attitude, God will reveal that also to you; however, let us keep living by that
same standard to which we have attained" (Philippians 3:13-16).
“Perfect” in verse fifteen is a relative, spiritual
maturity, indicating the stages of growth, hence, perfect in growth at certain
stages. Even as an elderly Christian, Paul had not arrived to sinless
perfection, but he did not give up, and make excuses for sins. All of his
guilt is covered by the payment of Christ on the cross. The penalty has
been removed, but God is still at work in his daily practice of holiness.
Paul is not getting better and better so that one day he can say he is without
sin in his daily life. God has provided for us in His saving grace a
provision for cleansing of sin and restoration of fellowship in the Christian’s
life (I John 1:8).
3. Our ultimate sanctification or what the Bible calls
glorification will take place when we are presented perfect just like Jesus
Christ, and it will take place in the moment of our death. God’s work of
perfecting the saints will take place when we see Jesus in glory and not before
then. At that moment we will be presented to God the Father sinless and
complete (1 John 3:1-3). We never know that perfection in this life. We will
in the likeness of Christ be pure and holy in love, joy, peace, patience,
kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, wisdom, humility,
What God began in your new birth, He will continue to work
on throughout this life until He has perfected us and presents us perfect to the
Father. What God begins, He always finishes (Phil. 1:6; Rom. 8:24-29). God
will not give up on any born again believer. He will keep on perfecting us
until the day when Christ comes for us.
Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006
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