Jesus’ Command to be Perfect 05/31/2012

by Moody Adams
"Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).

Perfection must always be the ambition, the goal, of the obedient Christian. He works toward it in this world and achieves it in the next.

Christ commanded us to desire, aim at and press towards perfection. In this world, there are no perfect people, but it is the desire of true Christians to be perfect and to pursue perfection. In this particular passage, it commands that we be perfect in our treatment of enemies, which is the current subject. “It is God’s perfection to forgive injuries and to entertain strangers, and to do good to the evil and unthankful, and it will be ours to be like him. We that owe so much, that owe our all, to the divine bounty, ought to copy it out as well as we can” says Matthew Henry

There are many passages expanding our drive toward perfection. I Peter 1:15, 16, tells us to conform to the example of our heavenly father in holiness: “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.”

God promises to sanctify us completely and preserve our whole spirit, soul and body blameless before him at his coming. (I Thessalonians 5:23, 24). We are told to pursue this perfecting of holiness, “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (II Corinthians 7:1).

Our Lord also promises to put His laws in our hearts, and write them in our minds (Hebrews 10:16). Jesus is able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him (Hebrews 7:25) and “cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). God is able to “purify our hearts by faith” (Acts 15:9), “perfect, strengthen, settle and establish us” (1 Peter 5:10).

“Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of flesh and of spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” (2 Corinthians 7:1)

A question has arisen regarding holiness. Some think if they quit drinking, gambling and chasing women they are perfect. These are only a few baby steps towards perfection. Christ is perfection. Anyone who says he has reached sinless perfection is saying he is as good as Jesus Christ. This, of course, is obviously untrue. I John 1:10 says, “If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His world is not in us.”

The Apostle Paul cried, “I am crucified with Christ: Nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me” (Galatians 2:20). This was a man who sought perfection. Wesley described such a man as follows: “He is 'holy as God who called' him 'is holy,' both in heart and 'in all manner of conversation.' He 'loveth the Lord his God with all his heart,' and serveth him 'with all his strength.' He 'loveth his neighbour,' every man, 'as himself;' yea, 'as Christ loveth us;' them, in particular, that 'despitefully use him and persecute him, because they know not the Son, neither the Father.' Indeed his soul is all love, filled with 'bowels of mercies, kindness, meekness, gentleness, longsuffering.' And his life agreeth thereto, full of 'the work of faith, the patience of hope, the labour of love.' “And whatsoever' he 'doeth either in word or deed,' he 'doeth it all in the name,' in the love and power, 'of the Lord Jesus.’” (
(Taken from Moody Adams book Christianity in Crisis)

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