As a Christian, are you to be perfect? Yes. However, that does not mean you were supposed to be perfect the instant you received salvation, and therefore now you are a failure because you are still imperfect. We are to be perfect, but we do not achieve that by trying to perfect ourselves. We grow up into Christ. We grow up into the perfection that is attributed to us and imparted to us by God.
Christians need a greater understanding of how we grow up into Christ and how God works His perfection in us because our concepts about salvation tend to bring us under condemnation. Yeshua (Jesus) is our example. He was perfect, and therefore we must be perfect. Yet after our salvation experience, we find that we make mistakes and we have problems, even serious problems at times. Since we are not instantly perfect when we are saved, or we do not obtain perfection after years of following Christ, we develop feelings of failure and condemnation.
We need to learn from the examples of faith in the Hebrew Scriptures. Those Scriptures are not shy about pointing out the needs, down fallings, and failures of the wonderful men and women of God who had true problems. Like us, they were seeking to the best of their ability to follow after purity and righteousness and the perfect life that the Scripture talks about. Abraham was as weak as any of us, but God reckoned him righteous. And whatever we think about righteousness or perfection, it is not something that we achieve by our efforts. Perfection is attributed to us by God.
Our example in Christ is that He did not come into the world as an instantly perfect human. He was made perfect by God. He had to learn obedience by the things He suffered. The Father disciplined Him and perfected Him in order that He would become our perfection. And this perfection is not something that comes like a flash when we are first saved and brought into a relationship with the Father through Christ. It is something that begins at that point. And from that point, the Father works in us to equip us to do His will and become those who are pleasing in His sight.
- Romans 8:29. “He would be the firstborn among many brethren.”
- Matthew 5:43-48.“You are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
- Revelation 12:10.“The accuser of our brethren … accuses them before our God
day and night.”
- James 2:20-24.“As a result of the works, faith was perfected.”
- Acts 13:22-23.“I HAVE FOUND DAVID the son of Jesse, A MAN AFTER MY HEART,
who will do all My will.”
- Hebrews 5:7-10.“He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. And
having been made perfect …”
- Matthew 3:17.“This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.”
- Hebrews 2:9-11.“It was fitting for Him … to perfect the author of their salvation
- Philippians 2:12-13.“It is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for
His good pleasure.”
- Hebrews 13:20-21.“… equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us
that which is pleasing in His sight.”
- Hebrews 12:4-8.“God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom
his father does not discipline?”
- 2 Peter 3:18. “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus
- 1 Peter 2:1-2.“Long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in
respect to salvation.”
- Ephesians 4:15-16.“We are to grow up in all aspects into Him.”
- “Maybe everything you’re doing is not pleasing to Him, but don’t be condemned
over it. Get up and keep walking.”
- “It is God who is at work in us, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. What is His pleasure? Our perfection, our coming into the likeness of the Son. But it is He who is working it in us. It is not something we achieve on our own by the flesh.”
- “Don’t be condemned that you’re not perfect. We may not be perfect at this point, but we must remember that in Christ we are to grow up into His likeness. We are not to be in some instant perfected state. As we are saved, we grow into His image.”
- Christian doctrine tends to emphasize the need for perfection and that can bring condemnation. There is a sense that salvation means instant perfection. And when we see the imperfections in our lives, even after years of following Christ as our Savior, we develop a feeling of failure.
- Yes, we are to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect. But the Scriptures describe imperfect humans who are being made perfect while in this process of relationship with Him. Even Yeshua, who is our pattern, was made perfect by the discipline of the Father and the things that He suffered.
- God worked perfection in Christ as He is working it in us, and so our salvation is not instant perfection. It is a process of being perfected, of becoming pleasing to the Father, and coming into the image of Christ.