My Thoughts. . .
“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).
God is perfect because He has never sinned. Man has been a sinner since Genesis 3, when his perfection was stripped away by his sin.. In fact John tells us, “If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us” (1 John 1:10). If we are sinners, but we are to be “perfect, even as” the Father “is perfect,” how can we be like God nu fulfilling Matthew’s passage?
I have been acquainted with preachers who were hoping to find the perfect church that would employ them. I’ve been preaching for 64 years and know of no one who has found such a congregation. Some congregations want to hire the perfect preacher. Jesus is not for hire, so his employment is out of the question. The preacher pool may be crowded, but not with perfect individuals. Preachers usually remind the membership that each one needs to be perfect. However, the minister needs to practice his own exhortation since all of mankind fails to make that impossible dream into reality. Paul confessed that he was a sinner. Sadly, you and I are too, whether we confess it or not!
If we have not been successful in discovering the correct interpretation of Matthew 5:48, we are in trouble. If entrance into heaven depends upon our ability to remain sinless, then our interpretation dooms us all. If “perfection” equals “sinlessness,” then only the boastful have succeeded, which isn’t much to brag about. The only success that is achieved by such brags is failure which leads to weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 8:12).
The word “perfect” found twice in the passage is translated from the Greek word teleios. That word is rendered as “complete, perfect, or full age.” The meaning does not necessarily help in understanding what Jesus meant. Is God complete? Yes. Is God perfect? Yes. Is God of full age? What does that mean? Does it even apply? Is God old? Only in human perception. Is God grown and if so, what does that mean? If one must be as complete as God is, is man’s completeness the same as God’s? If “perfect” means without fault, can man reach that status equal with God? The word teleios may fit God but seems too far removed for man’s ownership.
If, on the other hand, teleios is referring to what God does with us if we submit, then the meaning is closer. God dwells in the believer. God is holy, so that indwelling is beneficial to the one He dwells in. The indwelt are not perfect by being capable of self-sinlessness, but perfect because God’s righteousness makes us a proper dwelling place for Him. It is God’s perfection working in us. Yahweh cleanses us with the blood of Jesus and we continue in that state due to God’s grace. If that is not the meaning inherent in the passage, then get ready to live with depression. If you believe you are capable in living your life without committing sin, you will be guilty of swallowing the devil’s lie. Self-deception is the singular reward. Perfection is found in Jesus and only God adds people to that saved condition (Acts 2:40-47; 2 Corinthians 5:21).