Summary: Christian Perfection is possible!
A PERFECT HEART
There is a bumper sticker that is popular among Christians. It says, “Christians are not perfect, just forgiven!” I believe I understand what that statement is trying to say, “We are Christians, God has forgiven us, but we are still going to make mistakes!” If that is what it means, then I will agree with it. But I think that it is also misleading, for one of the basic tenets of the Bible is based on this scripture, the concept of “Christian Perfection.” Jesus would not have commanded it if He did not expect us to live it. So to be able to obey His command we must understand what He meant by being “perfect.”
We know from sad experience that it is impossible to live this life perfectly, never making mistakes, always doing the right thing at the right time, saying the right thing at the right time, having perfect judgment about all things and understanding all things. If this is what Jesus meant, we are in big trouble, for there is no way we can ever live up to this command. But if He meant perfection to be total commitment of one’s spirit, soul and body to cause of Christ, that is something that is obtainable. Not attainable, but obtainable. For a perfect heart is a gift of God. What is a perfect heart? A perfect heart is one that:
I. PLACES GOD ON THE THRONE OF OUR LIFE.
We have a spiritual house. In its natural state, we are in charge. But contrary to popular opinion, we do not have the ability to run this house, keep it clean, keep it up in a good state of repair, and have it look nice. When we invite Jesus into our house, we suddenly have a motivation to clean, for we now want to do things to please Him. We throw out the trashy things in our lives, begin to repair and clean up. The problem is, however, in this condition, Jesus is still a guest. He lives in the guest bedroom. Our behavior begins to change, the house looks better, but we are still the master. But when we allow Jesus to sanctify us holy, He becomes the Master of the house. He moves into the master bedroom. We sign the deed over to him. We no longer have control or ownership, everything belongs to Him. Gal. 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
II. IS COMPLETELY CLEANSED AND PURIFIED.
When we accept Christ as our Savior, He forgives us of our rebellion, but as long as we are still in charge of our life, the tendency to sin is still there. Rom. 5:12-13: “Sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned-for before the law was given, sin was in the world.” This “tendency” has been called many things, among them: “The law of sin and death,” “The old man,” “inbred sin,” “carnality,” “double-mindedness,” “the sinful nature” and the “root of bitterness.” But whatever you call it, when you let Jesus become the Master, He cleans house! And there is nothing that is cleaner than when the Master cleans your spiritual house. I John 1:9, “But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” James 4:8, “Cleanse you hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double-minded.” Heb. 13:12, “Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.” This “tendency” to sin is gone!”
III. IS FILLED WITH PERFECT LOVE.
Jesus describes in our text what a perfect heart gives us: the ability to even love our enemies. After Jesus cleans us, the Holy Spirit fills us, with His love. It is a complete transformation of attitude and motivation. It rises above conflict; it serves no self-interest, and can overflow so completely that it can calm another’s storms.
Our motives, which is our inner drive, what causes us to act, the fixation of our attention and purpose, all flow from perfect love. It essentially gives us the ability to see individuals and humanity as a whole the way God sees them, through His eyes. It changes our perspective until we are so set on a course that the devil and all his angels cannot deter us. And that includes other people. If we have perfect love, nothing can effect our joy, peace, or our Christian service.