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Be Perfect as Your Father is Perfect

"Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." -- Matthew 5:48

In almost any evangelical church, if you attend long enough, you’ll hear the preacher say that we are all sinners and that we will always be sinners and that when we sin, we should ask God for forgiveness and repent. There’s only one problem with this mantra. It’s not completely Biblical. Yes, we are all sinners. “For all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God.” Romans 3:23. However, notice the tense of the word sin. Sinned. Past tense. We have all sinned. As 1John 1:8 says, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” Before we came to Christ, every one of us committed sin.

And, we continue to sin.

But do we have to?

I believe the Bible teaches that no, we do not have to continue to sin once we’ve accepted Christ. Look at 1 John 3:9 It says, "No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God." Or the verse quoted at the top of this essay. We are commanded to be perfect as God is perfect. This is a restating of the command in the Old Testament, Leviticus 19:2 says, "Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: ‘Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy.’" God is telling the Israelites to be holy, or to be perfect. To be set aside. To be righteous. The Old Testament is rife with verses telling God’s people to walk in righteousness, to be blameless before God, to obey His commands.

Take a look at Ephesians 4 & 5. Spend some time really reading through these chapters. Ephesians 5:1 says, "Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children." We’re to be imitators of God, who is perfect, holy, and righteous. Look at the language of these chapters. Ephesians 5:3 starts out, "But among you there must not be even a hint of..." and then several sins are listed. Not even a hint of those should be in our lives. I believe if God commands something of us, He equips us to fulfill that command. God tells us to be perfect. Therefore, He equips us to be perfect. "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26.

So, should we strive to be perfect? Psalm 46:10 says "Cease striving and know that I am God." No, we cannot strive to be perfect. We cannot achieve perfection. Only Christ can make us perfect. How? He says, "If you love me, you will obey what I command." John 14:15. If we love Christ. What does that mean? Christians love Christ, right? Yes, but Jesus said to us, "‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’" Matthew 22:37. We must have perfect love of Christ. We must love Christ above all else.

Why don’t we have perfect love? Why do we continue to sin?

I believe there are two reasons we sin once we’ve accepted Christ. We lack faith and we lack desire. We don’t believe we can be sinless. We don’t believe we can love Christ enough to obey His commands. And, we continually get it drummed into us that we are sinners and will always continue to sin. Too many churches are shying away from preaching HOW we should live as Christians. Matthew 5,6 & 7. 1 John. Ephesians. James. These all tell us how we should live. How we CAN live, if we allow Christ to live through us. If we love Him enough to obey His commands.

But more importantly, we lack desire. We don’t want to stop sinning. We cling to that one, two, or many pet sins that we just don’t want to release to Christ. We may ask forgiveness every time we commit that sin, but we return to it later.

If we have perfect love for Christ, then we’ll have faith and we’ll have the desire to stop sinning, and Christ will enable us to do just that.

What sin do you cling to that is keeping Christ from perfecting you?

Written by Brian Lawrence
© Copyright Brian Lawrence. Used with Permission. All Rights Reserved.