NOBODY'S PERFECT! Scripturally correct or the "perfect" excuse?
This idea was never a formal doctrine; rather, it was and still is in some circles, a comfortable oral tradition -- a voiced response of Christians when urged to move on in their spiritual quest. And when only examined in the light of the following Scripture, it has a self-stroking flavor of humility.
"...I say to every man among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think..."
But it is, in truth, the secret "underbelly" of self-righteousness, expressed in the words, "He is -- but I can't become!"
But many other Scriptures provide us with "living" examples of Christian perfection.
"Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared and said, 'I am God Almighty; walk before Me, and be perfect.'"
"The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart were only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that He had made man...
But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord... Noah was a righteous man, complete (or perfect) in his generation; Noah walked with God."
Interchangeable words used in Scripture:
"Perfect," "complete," "mature," "blameless," "having integrity," "holy," "godly" (like God). Perfection is one of several themes repeated over and over in His Word.
"God's Rest," "God's Way," "A Kingdom of Priests," "In His Image."
"You shall be perfect (complete) before the Lord your God."
"Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."
He chose us -- actually picked us out for Himself as His own -- in Christ before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless in His sight, above reproach before Him in love (Ephesians 1:4). He delivered and saved us and called us with a calling in itself holy and leading to holiness, a life of consecration, a vocation of holiness, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began eternal ages ago (2 Timothy 1:9).
Paul describes the "vocation" of holiness given to us in Christ Jesus:
"I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own... but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him...
Not that I have already obtained it, or have already become perfect, but I press on if I may even lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.
I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Let us therefore, as many as are perfect (or mature) have this attitude; And if you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you..."
"And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ -- right up to the time of His return -- developing and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you."
And perfection is not only an individual pursuit.
"...until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ... speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects unto Him..."
Ephesians 4:13, 15
Perfection was the assigned work of the church:
"And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the holy ones for the work of service to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of faith..."
Now I realize why this oral tradition is so devastating and destructive! Surely it could be classified a doctrine of demons for with it Satan stunted the spiritual growth of many of God's people -- their love grew cold and they turned away to their own destruction. It is comforting to scoff at perfection: I can ignore sanctification; I can put off taking up my cross until some later day. And if my spirit is troubled I can soothe myself, "After all, nobody's perfect!" And that excuse becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.