YOU CAN BE PERFECT
A. Introduction: Everyone wants to know their purpose—Why am I here? Why did God create me? What
is my destiny? Almighty God wants a family. He created human beings with the capacity to become His
actual sons and daughters by receiving His Spirit and life into our being, through faith in Him. Eph 1:4-5
1. Jesus is the pattern God’s family—God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like
his Son (Rom 8:29, NLT). God wants sons and daughters who are like Jesus, in His humanity.
a. Jesus is God become man without ceasing to be God. Two thousand years ago, Jesus took on a full
human nature in the womb of the virgin, Mary, and was born into this world. John 1:1; John 1:14
b. While on earth, Jesus lived as a man in dependence on God His Father. In doing so, He showed us
what sons and daughters of God look like—how they live and act.
1. Our number one responsibility as Christians, as sons and daughters of God, is to become
increasingly Christ-like in our attitudes and actions—increasingly Christ-like in our character.
2. I John 2:6—Those who say they live their lives in him (Jesus) should live their lives as Christ
did (NLT); those who claim to belong to him must live just as Jesus did (NIRV).
c. Jesus (in His humanity) shows us that it is possible for a human being to be fully pleasing to God our
Father in Heaven—if we walk as He walked. And Jesus promised, that by His life and Spirit in
us, He would provide us with the power we need to walk as He walked. John 15:5
2. We have begun a new series on what it means to be like Jesus and how we become increasingly like Him,
and have more to say tonight. This topic can seem overwhelming and impossible—just another thing to
feel guilty about, more rules we have to keep, and more failures to rack up.
a. But this is about realizing how wonderful Jesus is and recognizing your created purpose—to be a
son or daughter of God who is like Jesus in character (attitudes and actions). Think about this:
1. When Jesus called His first twelve apostles, there was something about Him that caused those
men to leave everything (their families, their businesses, their way of life) to follow Him.
2. Something about Jesus made following Him and becoming like Him desirable. At that time, to
follow a teacher (rabbi) like Jesus as his disciple (pupil), meant to follow his instructions, but it
also meant to take him as a pattern and emulate his example and morals—to seek to be like him.
A. What was there about Jesus that led these men to make such a radical change in their lives?
Among other things, God the Father, through the Holy Spirit, revealed Jesus to them and,
without violating their free will, produced a desire in them to follow Jesus.
B. John 6:44—No one is able to come to me unless the Father Who sent Me attracts and draws
him and gives him a desire to come to Me (Amp); I Cor 12:3—No man can say that Jesus is
the Lord but by the Holy Ghost (KJV).
b. As we work on this series, pray and ask God the Father to increase your desire to see Jesus as He
truly is, and then to become more like Him in character, like Him in your attitudes and actions.
3. Note what John the apostle (one of those men who left all to follow Jesus) wrote to Christians, over fifty
years after Jesus left this world and returned to Heaven.
a. I John 3:1-2—See what [an incredible] quality of love the Father has given (shown, bestowed on)
us, that we should [be permitted to] be named and called and counted the children of God…Beloved,
we are [even here and] now God’s children; it is not yet disclosed (made clear) what we shall be
[here after], but we know that when He comes and is manifested we shall [as God’s children]
resemble and be like Him, for we shall see Him just as He [really] is (Amp).
b. John went on to write: And everyone who has this hope [resting] on Him cleanses (purifies)
himself just as He is pure (I John 3:3, Amp).
1. In other words, John said that the fact that we are in the process of becoming like Jesus should
affect how we live. It should inspire hope in us—we won’t always be the way we are now.
And, it should inspire us to purity—to move in the direction of becoming like Jesus in attitudes
2. Becoming like Jesus in this life isn’t automatic—it’s a process. Not only must we desire to be
like Jesus, we have to put forth effort to grow in Christ-likeness, with the understanding and
expectation that God will help us by His Spirit and power in us.
B. As sons of God we’re supposed to reflect (show) God the Father to the world around us through our attitudes
and actions—just as Jesus (as a man) perfectly expressed the Father to the world around Him. John 14:9-10
1. When Jesus was on earth, He told His followers to act like the Father—just as He Himself did. Jesus
said: Be ye therefore perfect even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect (Matt 5:48, KJV).
a. The Greek word that is translated perfect comes from a word (telos) that means to set out for a
definite goal. Perfect means that which has reached its end or limit and is therefore complete.
b. Jesus died on the Cross to open the way for sinful men and women to become holy, righteous sons
and daughters of God who are like Him in character (attitudes and actions).
1. Rom 8:29—(God chose us) to bear the family likeness of his Son (be conformed to His image),
that he might be the eldest of a family of many brothers (J. B. Phillips).
2. To be perfect means to reach the goal of being fully conformed to the image of Christ. To be
conformed to means to be similar to a pattern. Image means likeness or resemblance.
2. Becoming like Jesus (developing Christ-like character) isn’t instantaneous. It’s a process. And, while
the process is underway, it is possible to be perfect, even though there is more perfection to reach.
a. Note what Paul wrote to Christians: Phil 3:12-15—I do not claim that I have already succeeded or
have already become perfect. I keep on trying to win the prize for which Christ Jesus has already
won me to himself…I forget what is behind me and do my best to reach what is ahead (Good News
Bible)…Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude (NASB).
1. Paul called himself and other people who were not yet perfect, perfect. The two Greek words
translated perfect are forms of the word telos—to complete by reaching the intended goal.
2. Yes, there is ultimate perfection which will not be achieved until the second coming of Jesus.
At that time our bodies will be raised from the grave and made immortal and incorruptible, like
Jesus’ resurrected body (Phil 3:20-21). However, right now, we can be perfect at our
particular stage of growth, as we increase (grow) in Christ-likeness.
b. Remember the context of Jesus’ statement “Be perfect”. He had just stated how God’s sons and
daughters should treat those who treat them badly: Love your enemies and pray for those who
persecute you. Your heavenly Father gives sunlight and rain to good and evil men. Matt 5:44-48
1. In this same teaching, Jesus went on to clearly state that all of the Father’s commands in regard
to how His sons and daughters are supposed to treat people are summed up in one sentence:
Do for others what you would like them to do for you (Matt 7:12, NLT).
2. Jesus elaborated on this point later, when He said that all of God’s commands are summed up in
two statements: Love God with all your being (heart, mind, soul) and your neighbor as
yourself. Matt 22:37-40
A. This love is not an emotion, it is an action. To love God means to obey His moral Law
(His standard of right and wrong as revealed in His written Word, the Bible). To love
people means to treat them as you want to be treated.
B. Note that there is an intention of heart or a motive behind this love. Jesus said that we are
to love with total devotion to God—His will, His way.
3. When the statement that we must be perfect is made, our mind immediately goes to performance—what
we have to do to be perfect. And there are things that we must do. But the will to be perfect (like Jesus
in attitudes and actions) comes before performance. Note what Jesus said to those who followed Him:
a. Matt 16:24—Then said Jesus to His disciples if anyone desires to be My disciple, let him deny
himself—that is, disregard, lose sight of and forget himself and his own interests—and take up his
cross and follow Me [cleave steadily to Me, conform wholly to my example in living and if need be
in dying, also] (Amp).
1. The essence or root of sin is choosing our way over God’s way. We choose to do what we
want rather than what He wants—our will, our way. Jesus changes the focus of our lives.
2. II Cor 5:15—(Jesus) died for all, so that those who live might live no longer to and for
themselves, but to and for Him who died and was raised again for their sakes (Amp)
3. Jesus said that if you want to be my follower you must deny yourself—turn from serving self to
serving God and others—and take up your cross. Our cross is the place of full surrender to the
Father’s will and complete obedience to His commands, even when it is difficult.
b. Notice, that immediately following His statement that sons and daughters of God are to be perfect
even as their Father in Heaven, Jesus emphasized motives, or why people do what they do.
1. Jesus referenced the religious leaders of that day (the Pharisees) who prayed, fasted, and made
offerings—all good, righteous acts. Matt 6
2. Jesus said that their motive was to be seen and praised by men, but sons and daughters of God
should not do that. Purpose, intent (motive) is as important as performance.
4. Your heart can truly be set on doing things God’s way (denying self) but it takes a while to learn what He
wants, and then to recognize in yourself things that need to change (your selfishness). No one expects a
five year old to act like a twenty year old. But he is expected to act like a five year old.
a. To be perfect as a Christian doesn’t mean that you make no more mistakes—you never offend
anyone or say or do something you shouldn’t have said or done. We must grow into perfection.
1. You may not know any better yet. You may still have bad manners that need undoing. We all
have corruption (un-Christ-like or selfish traits) in our personality that need to change. We
have to build new habits of response and reactions to troublesome people and situation.
2. However, just like the Pharisees did the right things for the wrong reasons, we can do the wrong
thing for the right reason because we don’t know any better yet. God sees hearts. Acts 23:1-5
b. To be perfect means to love God and your fellow man with all your being or total devotion—not my
will, but your will—even when I don’t want to do it. Is that the intent of your heart?
1. Jesus in His humanity is an example of the kind of perfection God wants people to have. His
intention (His motive) was to do what was pleasing to the Father. John 4:34; John 6:38
2. Perfection is complete harmony between the inward man (motives) and the outward man
(performance). Jesus is our example in this balance.
C. As we make the effort to grow in Christ-likeness, we need to recognize that this is more than simply using our
will power to try to change—although we do have to choose (exercise our will) to do things God’s way. But
we also need to know that God has promised to help us by His power as we choose to obey Him.
1. Last week we talked about the fact that Jesus told His followers to learn from Him. And first thing He
said about Himself was: I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly in heart) (Matt 11:29, Amp).
a. The Greek word that is translated meek has the idea of standing between two extremes—getting
angry without reason and not getting angry at all. Meekness is power under control. Meekness is
the result of a strong man’s choice to control his actions, in submission to God.
b. Humility literally means lowliness of mind. Humility recognizes its true relation to God and
others. The one who is humble recognizes that he or she is a servant of God and a servant of men.
1. Phil 2:1-11—In the context of how to treat others, Paul exhorted Christians to have the same
attitude as Jesus: Let this same attitude and purpose and [humble] mind be in you which was
in Christ Jesus.—Let Him be your example in humility (Phil 2:5, Amp).
2. In other words, imitate Jesus’ example of humility and meekness. Jesus humbled or lowered
Himself, took the form of a servant, and became a man: For even I, the Son of Man, came
here not to be served but to serve others (Mark 10:44-45, NLT).
2. Paul continued this passage on humility with the following statement: Dearest friends, you were always
so careful to follow my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away you must be even
more careful to put into action God’s saving work in your lives, obeying God with deep reverence and
fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire to obey him and the power to do what pleases
him (Phil 2:12-13, NLT).
a. Notice, Paul reminded them that God was working in them, giving them not only the power but the
desire to please Him. Do you ever pray: Lord, help me see people as you see them? Help me be
kind and treat them as you want me to treat them? Increase my desire and ability to obey you.
b. In Heb 13:20-21 Paul wrote: Now may the God of peace…make you perfect in every good work to
do his will (KJV); strengthen (complete, perfect) and make you what you ought to be, and equip you
with everything good that you may carry out His will; [while He Himself] works in you and
accomplishes that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ (Amp).
1. The Greek word that is translated strengthen (or perfect) in this verse means to complete
thoroughly; i.e. to repair or adjust; to restore; to be as one should be, deficient in no part.
2. Salvation is the purification and restoration of human nature from the damage sin has done, by
the power of God, on the basis of Jesus’ sacrificial death at the Cross. The goal is to restore us
to what God intends us to be—sons and daughters who are like Jesus in attitudes and actions.
3. God has given us His written Word (the Bible) through which we can learn what Jesus is like, as well as
how sons and daughters of God are supposed to live and walk.
a. God’s Word shows us what we are (good and bad), and assures us that God is and will work in us, as
we keep our hearts set on Him and choose to put His way and will above our way and will.
b. As we willing obey God, He by His Spirit through His Word, works in us to restore us to what He
always intended us to be. Progressive growth and change takes place.
c. II Cor 3:18—And all of us, as with unveiled face, [because we] continued to behold [in the Word of
God] as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are constantly being transfigured into His very own image
in ever increasing splendor and from one degree of glory to another; [for this comes] from the Lord
[Who is] the Spirit (Amp).
D. Conclusion: Becoming like Christ is not accomplished by human effort alone. You must choose to put
God and others above self, with the awareness that God has promised to help you. Consider one thought as
we close tonight’s lesson. What are the practical aspects of these ideas? How do we walk this out?
1. Here’s an example (more in future lessons). In the context of becoming increasingly Christ-like, Paul
wrote to Christians: Be angry and sin not (Eph 4:26). One who is meek like Jesus, controls his anger.
a. There are times when anger is an appropriate emotion. But we can’t let anger drive us to sin.
Meekness is that balance between getting angry without reason and not getting angry at all.
b. How do you know if your anger is sinful? Has your anger moved you to treat someone in a way
that you wouldn’t want to be treated? Has it moved you to disobey a direct command from God’s
Word? Has it moved you to be a poor representation of Jesus to the people around you?
c. We must build new habits of response (future lessons), but don’t forget previous lessons. When
anger surges, if you harness your mouth with praise to God, you can get control over your emotions
and body. Remember the power in praising God in and for everything. I Thess 5:18; Eph 5:20
2. We can be purified and restored to Christ-likeness as we turn from living for self to living for God. Paul
closed a letter to the Corinthian church with these words: Our prayer is for your perfection…aim for
perfection (II Cor 13:9-11, NIV). Is that your aim? Is that your prayer? Much more next week!