Summary: Jesus says "Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Matthew 5:48). What is that supposed to mean? Like, that’s impossible, right?
Matthew 5 - Part 19 - YOU THINK YOU’RE SO PERFECT!
Jesus says "Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Matthew 5:48). What is that supposed to mean? Like, that’s impossible, right?
In fact there are a number of contradictions in this section of the Bible, until you look further. For instance, Jesus speaks of loving your enemies. I’ve always thought that to be contradiction because if you love someone they are no longer your enemy, but of course, He is saying that although you may love them, they still don’t love you. The enemy bit is theirs not ours.
Then He shocks us again! He says that when we love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, we do it "in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven". So does that mean that if I don’t love my enemies, I can’t be a child of God anymore? No, I don’t think that’s what He’s trying to get across. What He is saying is that God loved me when I was His enemy, and so if I am a true child of God, then I’ll behave in the same way. I am to be my Father’s Son. I am to see things the way God sees things. When I do that I am doing all that God calls me to do.
But then Jesus goes on to say something ludicrous to me. Or at least at first glance it is ludicrous. Lord, you go on to say "Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect". That’s going TOO FAR! I’M NOT PERFECT, Lord. You know that I fall short of this. So what are you trying to say? Your standard is way too high for me.
But then when I think about it, God couldn’t have very well said to me, "Just do your best, and I’ll accept that." A perfect God doesn’t give me an imperfect standard to live by. HE DOESN’T LOWER HIS STANDARDS JUST TO ACCOMMODATE ME.
I guess when I love my enemies, then I participate in something that is part of God’s perfect character. I do something perfect in His strength, but I still don’t get to that kind of standard in the everyday part of my life. I still get it wrong at times.
"PERFECTION" in the original Greek has the idea of "COMPLETE" ie "capable of doing everything that God calls us to do"
Colossians 2:10 (NLT) says "So you also are COMPLETE (or "perfect") through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority."
PERFECT (teleios from télos = goal, purpose) means "one who has accomplished the intended goal (telos)." If something accomplishes what it is designed to do, it is said to be perfect (teleios). A child is imperfect in the sense that they have not yet grown to full maturity. So telios is often translated as "mature". When something is fully developed then it is said to be perfect. So Telios has the idea of "being complete."
2 Corinthians 5:21 (NLT) says, "For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.:"
When I trust in what Jesus did for me on the Cross, then I am complete. God sees me as righteous, ie in right relationship with Him, as perfect and complete, as forgiven of all my sins. Instead of seeing me, He sees what Jesus did for me, and so I stand before Him AS PERFECT.
That doesn’t mean I’m going to be perfect in my everyday relationships. I’m never going to be perfect in that way. I get it wrong all the time. But as the Lord works through me, I live out the kind of life He wants me to live. I am complete. I am doing all that God has called me to do, and in that sense it is PERFECT and I live in a way that is HOLY AND ACCEPTABLE TO GOD. It is a journey of perfection that I am taking. I need to be "filled with the Holy Spirit" Ephesians 5:18) in order to do this.
Romans 12:1-2 (NLT) spells it out better than I can. "And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice-the kind He will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect."