Tag Archives: perfection


One of the most important teachings of the church is that God is one.  This was a truth revealed in the Old Testament and held highly by the Jews, especially as the other nations looked to many gods.  When the revelation of the Son and the Spirit came, the people of God had to understand three Persons in one God.  This remains one of the fundamental doctrines of the faith.

So, if I were to ask you where the Father dwells, what would you say?  Heaven?  Everywhere?  How about in you?  No, you probably wouldn’t say that because you weren’t taught that.  We were taught that the Spirit dwells in us.  Maybe Jesus.  Not the Father.  The Father is holy and separate and majestic and big.

But the Scriptures clearly teach that the Father is in those who belong to Him.  He dwells in us.  He is far greater than us, of course; but God the Father dwells in us.  That’s what Jesus meant for us to understand when He said:

At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. John 14:20 (NKJV)

There is a oneness between the Father and the Son and a oneness between Jesus and us.  That means, by simple logic, that there is a oneness between the Father and us.  And that’s exactly what Paul tells the Ephesians:

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. Ephesians 4:4-6

If I died with Christ on the cross (Colossians 3:3) and rose with Him from the dead (2 Tim 2:11) and He is now my life (Galatians 2:20), then I am what He is.  And if Jesus is one with the Father (John 10:30) and Jesus is one with us (1 Cor 6:17), then the life of the Father is now in us.  We share in His holiness, His righteousness, His life.

Keep this context in mind as we look again at that verse that has been used in such a deceitful way to discourage so many.

Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. Matthew 5:48

Now follow me here: if the Father is perfect, then so are you.  Those who belong to God through a relationship with Jesus, have the Father’s life in them.  The Father is perfect.  Therefore those who belong to God are perfect.

Jesus is not telling the people to become perfect.  They couldn’t do that.  They might have interpreted Him that way, but they couldn’t have done it.  No, He is saying that if God is their Father they are already perfect and they should live like it.  Whether God was their Father was the real question.

So here’s the point: those who are in Christ are perfect, as He is perfect.  Because He is perfect.  Do we live that way?  Absolutely consistent with who we are?  No.  But that’s the call He gives.  Live according to who you are.

No one will ever become perfect by living a good-enough life.  That’s the clear message of the Scriptures.  Christ is the perfection of the Father in us.  He has already given to us what we could never gain for ourselves.  His love accomplished that for us and in us.  And He gave it as a gift to those who would receive it.

So the call is for us to live according to who we are.  Be who you are.


Comments?  Questions?

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Filed under Legalism, Relationship

The Inconsistent Life


So you must be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. Matthew 5:48 (NCV)

 How are you doing?  Working on that perfection?  Absolute consistency, steadfast faith, unending love.  No mistakes, no compromises, no slips.  How are you doing with all that?

Well, most of us aren’t doing very well, are we?  In fact, most of us are struggling.  We want to do right, but we still do wrong.  We try to stay away from certain things, end certain bad habits, but they continue to draw us in.  We aspire to goodness, but still don’t measure up.  And, honestly, that makes us feel bad.

But the inconsistent life is normal and we should feel good about ourselves.  Think about that for a moment.  When, in the church, were you taught to say, “I feel good about myself”?  Oh my, that would be a prideful and arrogant statement, wouldn’t it?  No one could say that, right?  Wrong!  I can say it.  And so can you.

Now, before I explain what I mean, let me say what I don’t mean.  I don’t mean that we should pat ourselves on the back because we are making progress.  There is no call for progress in the Christian life.  Progress earns us nothing.  Just because we are better than we were last year, according to some measurement, does not make us good.  That may sound discouraging, but we all know this to be true.  We climb up one rung of the ladder and there is always another for us to climb.  Always.  If we base our motivation on progress we will become discouraged very soon as we realize that our progress will never be enough.

Nor should we feel good about comparisons.  We look at others and think we are at least better than they are.  While the church has taught progress openly, it has taught comparison secretly.  But comparison also earns us nothing.  In fact, comparison only brings us further down.  It robs us of our brothers and sisters and it causes us either to live in pride or shame.  If we can find people who are somehow worse than we are, we can also find people who are somehow better than we are.

And let me take away one more common motivation for believers—future hope.  I believe in Heaven and glory and the promise of a wonderful future; but I do not believe that I will be more perfect someday.  We were taught that we would have to excuse bad behavior here, that the battle in us between the old nature and the new nature will only end upon our death.  But then we will finally be free and clean and perfect.  Today we are doomed to live in defeat and discouragement; but then we will be victorious and happy.  No, that’s not much encouragement for today.

The real encouragement comes from knowing who you are.  Those who belong to Jesus have died and are alive today as new creations who live in Him.  He is our life.  Our sins, past-present-future, are washed away forever.  We are as clean and righteous and holy as He is, because He is our life.  This is who we are.

Sin, even something I do today, belongs to who I was.  My flesh continues to struggle to be in control of my thoughts and actions, but when it is, that’s not me.  I am not brought down by my flesh.  I am nothing less because my flesh gets its way once in a while.

Yes, this life looks inconsistent.  That’s normal.  Every Christian has walked this walk.  But we feel good about ourselves because we are already complete in Christ.  He is enough in us.

I can hear two objections already.  First, what about the call to be perfect?  I will answer that and deal with the verse next week.  Second, so sinning is okay?  No—and I will write about that in two weeks.  So hold on.

If the work of Christ is finished (and it is) and the Christian is complete in Him (and we are), then we should feel good about ourselves—even if we see an inconsistent life along the way.


Filed under Grace 101, Grace definition