Choose Life: Matthew 5:48 NASB “Do We Really Have To Be Perfect?”
“Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:48
While I was finishing up seminary, I got the chance to preach by filling in for one of my professors. We ended up in a tiny town in West Texas. There was a nuclear plant in that town, the church, and not much else. My wife was pregnant and we were allowed to stay in a little shack with no air conditioning. The temperature was over a 100º outside, about 110º inside. It was a good opportunity, though.
I was preaching on “progressive” sanctification from Romans 6. The sponsoring family’s daughter was home from college. She was amazed at the subject matter since she had never heard about a doctrine like progressive sanctification. She had always thought that after she had become a Christian that she had to be perfect. She was disappointed in herself almost every day of her Christian life.
Matthew 5:48 says that Christians should be perfect. It helps to know that the word for “perfect,” telios, means “to meet the highest standard,” or ” to be mature.” As you follow my blog, you will find out about the three phases of salvation (cf. blogs Getting Off Square One and You Look Maavelous). You will find out that we are saved in a moment but then we are to “work out” our sanctification over time. Usually, we grow in holiness by moving three steps forward and two steps back. We do not usually progress in a straight rising line. We usually move ahead and then fall back a bit and then move ahead some more.
God wants us to be saved by His grace but then we also progress in holiness the same way, by His grace and in the power of the Holy Spirit (cf. Col. 2:6).
When that college girl realized that as long as she was moving ahead in her Christian life that she was pleasing God, her guilt was relieved.
But here’s the question: Are you even moving ahead in your Christian life at all? Christ does not expect you to be perfect but He does expect you to be making progress toward maturity. Can you say along with Paul, “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” (Phil. 3:12).
If you can, you will find that you are growing in your spiritual life (Deut. 30:19)!
How old are you in the Lord? Can you look back and see changes in your life? If you are committing your favorite sins less, then you are moving forward. Eventually, you will eliminate your favorite sins. Then the Holy Spirit will give you new challenges. As long as there is basically forward motion in your life, you are doing OK.
Is there something you are working on now? Is the Holy Spirit bringing anything to mind that you should be working on?
Work on it.
You’ll be blessed.
The purpose of Choose Life is to pick a positive help out of the One Year Bible (OYB) reading plan for the day. There is always something positive in the Word of God to cheer us and give us strength. For more on today’s reading, check out my One Year Bible blog: Just One Way