I have blogged before about perfection in Being Perfect and it is one area where I tend to get into disagreement with other Christians, even Pastors. Most people I talk to say that it is impossible to be perfect. Bearing in mind my own track record, I tend to agree with them. But – and it is an almighty but – we are told to be perfect by Jesus himself :

You must be perfect — just as your Father in heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5:48, TEV)

It doesn’t seem to matter what translation you use. I looked at 15 different versions, and all of them, with the sole exception of The Message, used the word “perfect”. In all of these translations, it wasn’t a request, it wasn’t a suggestion. It was a command.

“But, but, but,” we all say, “we are all sinners.” I totally agree! I am a sinner – but that doesn’t mean I should be one. It doesn’t mean I have an excuse. When I sin, I have to go to my Lord and seek forgiveness. I must repent. And then I have to try to live out my repentance, which means that I have to try to avoid that sin in the future. I have to strive for perfection. There are no get out clauses – if I am going to repent of my sin, it has to be 100% effort.

Declare me innocent, O Lord,
for I have acted with integrity;
I have trusted in the Lord without wavering.
Put me on trial, Lord, and cross-examine me.
Test my motives and my heart.
For I am always aware of your unfailing love,
and I have lived according to your truth.

(Psalm 26:1-3, NLT)

David wanted God to put him on trial. He was so confident that he had acted with integrity, that he had acted perfectly. It wasn’t just his deeds he was confident about – he says that even the thoughts and motives behind them were good enough to stand up to examination. It isn’t just a single event matter either – he says later in the same Psalm that he lives with integrity.

I know that I sin. I know that when I sin, I can come before the Lord and that he will forgive me and wipe away the sin and its effects. He will then declare me innocent. The blood of Jesus washes me and makes me perfect.

I know that David wasn’t always perfect – Psalm 51 shows us that – but in this Psalm he doesn’t ask to be forgiven, and then declared innocent. He just gets right in there with 100% confidence that he has been perfect!

So, how do we do it? How do we get to perfection? Or is it truly impossible to be perfect?

As I read this Psalm, I note especially three lines:

I have trusted in the Lord without wavering.
For I am always aware of your unfailing love,
and I have lived according to your truth.

Have I ever really trust God without wavering? Have I always been aware of his unfailing love? Have I ever been perfect?

The answer to all three questions is “no”. And therein lies the problem and the solution.

If I had trusted him completely, I wouldn’t have retaliated when I was under attack. I wouldn’t have been devious just to get my own way. I wouldn’t have lied to avoid admitting I was wrong.

If I had always been aware of his unfailing love, I wouldn’t have worried about a problem. I wouldn’t have lusted after something I didn’t have.

I wouldn’t have sinned.

I just might have been perfect.