I can wholly state, for the record, that I, in and of myself, being of sound mind and judgment, do solemnly declare: I am not perfect.
Someone else had to manage that for me. But more on that later.
An Internet search of “how to be perfect” shows that there is a book on Amazon with instructions on how to be perfect. In fact, the book is titled How to Be Perfect; it even has pictures. Here are examples of the advice given inside the book: “Make eye contact with a tree. Do not practice cannibalism. Wear comfortable shoes.”
Another writer attempts to address the topic in a poem by the same title as the previously mentioned book. The poet declares that to be perfect, one should, “Know that the desire to be perfect is probably the veiled expression of another desire – to be loved, perhaps, or not to die.” Yet a few lines before that declaration, he advises: “Don’t give advice.”
That’s interesting advice, to say the least.
But here is the thought with which I’m truly wrestling: Why are discussions and writings that teach perfectionism even necessary? Does God Himself expect sinless perfection out of us?
Does God know that we are not perfect?
So why then do we long and strive to be perfect when it doesn’t really seem to matter?
Because mankind was made to be perfect.
All throughout the creation account in Genesis, we read how God created the world and declared that “it was good.” When God calls something good, He means it is perfect. This includes man, when he was first created. Man was created in the image of God and was therefore without sin – i.e. perfect, until the fall.
God Himself set the standard of perfection, and He expects perfection out of His creation. Though perfection has always been the standard, it’s been impossible to achieve or attain since the fall.
Think about this. How many sins does it take to condemn a person to Hell? The answer: just one. The only sin not covered by the blood of Jesus is the sin of unbelief, and that one sin means an eternity apart from God.
So, “Then who can be saved” (Matthew 19:25)?
Jesus’ disciples asked Him this question after he explained how His standards were impossible to meet because of hearts not focused on God and hearts that are spiritually dead.
But praise God, Jesus answers their question in the verse immediately following: “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).
God Himself has declared that all shall be perfect but perfection is rooted in Him and comes through Him. It is only through the death of Christ on the bloodstained cross that any man can be made perfect.
But it’s still not our perfection, for we can never do anything with our own hands that will bring us back into the right relationship with God that Adam was created to have. It is by putting on Christ’s perfection and His righteousness that God redeems us.
And that is the only place where man can turn. That is part of the message Phiip P. Bliss communicated in his hymn, "Man of Sorrows, What a Name:"
Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
In my place condemned He stood;
Sealed my pardon with His blood.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!
Guilty, vile, and helpless we;
Spotless Lamb of God was He;
“Full atonement!” can it be?
Hallelujah! What a Savior!
Jeremy Wiggins is the host of In The Trenches. You can show him some love on his Facebook page or by listening to him on Saturday mornings at 6:00 CT on American Family Radio. He is also the producer of the Engage Podcast.