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Becoming Perfect: How to be a better Christian

Becoming Perfect

How to be a better Christian

by David Avoura King

Christian Journeys Series, book 3

First Edition

Copyright © 2016 David A. King

All rights reserved

Cover photograph: public domain image from [+ picjumbo.com+] (by Viktor Hanacek)

Cover design © 2016 David A. King

All layout, editing and text written by David A. King, except for Scripture quotes taken from The New King James Version, copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. And from the English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

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Although the author and publisher have made every effort to ensure that the information in this book was correct at press time, the author and publisher do not assume and hereby disclaim any liability to any party for any loss, damage, or disruption caused by errors or omissions, whether such errors or omissions result from negligence, accident, or any other cause.

Table of Contents

Are You Perfect?

In the Future

Living or Dead Faith?

Setting Goals

It Is a Struggle

What Is the Solution?

About the Author

Mailing List

[]Are You Perfect?

Are you perfect? Do you believe that you should be perfect? As a Christian, surely we should be striving for perfection? If we want to be saved, is it necessary for us to be perfect?

Does God expect us to be perfect? What did Christ command us, such as in His sermon on the Mount? This verse is what many Christians might think of, in regards to needing to be perfect, found in Matthew 5:48

“Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”

So Christ instructs us here to be perfect. He wants us to become perfect. So is this possible?

How often do you try to do something and fail?

How often do you struggle to keep God’s commandments and fail? Christ expanded on things like murder and adultery, and even having the wrong attitude or thoughts is the spirit of murder or the spirit of adultery, according to what Christ said to His disciples in Matthew 5:21–30.

So if we have imperfect thoughts, how can we be perfect? And is it right now that we need to be perfect? How long do we have to get perfect?

What is stopping you from achieving perfection? And what kind of perfection was Christ actually referring to?

Let’s look at examples of imperfection first. How about people you know who claim to be either Christian or a good person, who think they are doing good, yet they do something different in their actions?

We probably have come across such people, people who are hypocrites. The Greek word for hypocrisy, hypokrisis, simply means acting. Plays in the time of Christ depended on the skill of the actors (the hypocrites), and the better the hypocrite, the more convincing the show. When Jesus Christ accused the Pharisees of hypocrisy, He was accusing them of being actors, just like playing a certain character.

He said they were putting on a performance for an audience, while in their hearts they were being completely different. Their apparent perfection that they displayed was just a performance, and not genuine.

Christ told His followers to observe what the Pharisees said to observe, in relation to sitting in the seat of Moses, i.e. in regards to the Old Testament laws, but not to act like them, because they had the wrong attitude, as Christ explained in Matthew 23:1–12.

He then goes on to call them hypocrites in verses 13–14

“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation.”

Christ then goes on in verses 15–36 to explain more ways that the Pharisees were hypocrites. If we want to avoid hypocrisy, we should look at that to know what not to do. In verse 23, for example, He says that they “have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone” a reference to how important it is to keep the Law of God, and that it is all important. We cannot keep just one part and then think we are perfect.

Christ condemned the hypocrisy of the Pharisees of His day for their behaviour — they taught the Law of God from what we now call the Old Testament, yet they treated other people like dirt.

I think it is also worth quoting the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector in Luke 18:9–14.

“Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: ‘Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, “God, I thank You that I am not like other men — extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.” And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.’ ”

Notice that the Pharisee prayed “with himself” i.e. his prayers were not even directed to God, because God does not listen to prayers like this. God is, of course, aware of such prayers, otherwise Christ could not have said this in the parable, but God does not care for such prayers nor will He answer the prayer of a self-righteous man who despises others. Instead, God says He listens to those who repent.

The Pharisees made strict rules and regulations that were not part of God’s Law which they forced on other Jews, but they themselves lived a life free from such things and claimed that they were perfect and without sin. They looked down on the “normal” people whom they regarded as sinners.

But were the Pharisees at all like Christ? Christ did not think so. Were Jews who converted to Christianity perfect? Christ told them that they should be perfect.

[]In the Future

So if we are not perfect, will we lose out on salvation? Was Christ telling us that if we fail to be perfect, we have no chance of being in the Kingdom of God?

After all, we have all “sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), and “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).

If we look at that verse again, Matthew 5:48, in the original Greek, we see that the word translated into “be” is esomai and is in the future tense, having a meaning of “shall be, shall come (to pass), what would follow” (Strong’s Concordance, no. G2071).

In other words, this is something future. Christ was telling us to become perfect, rather than saying that we are perfect now in the present. It is a process of what shall come to pass, what will follow in the future. We are to become perfect in the future.

I recently have read books about how to write books. I have already written a few. But in one book, Book Launch by Chandler Bolt, the author writes that it is better to just get on and write your book, even if it is not perfect.

He said it is better to be done than perfect. What he explained is that if you wait to write your book when you think it will be the perfect time to write, it will not get written. Or if you want the book to be perfect, it will never be finished — you will be constantly rewriting it, revising it, and trying to decide what else you need to add to make it perfect.

Any author can write a book, and a lot of books published today, especially self-published books, are far from perfect, containing numerous typos, spelling mistakes, bad formatting or just badly written. There are certain standards that should be met when writing and publishing a book, but the book itself will never be perfect.

So it is important to aim for a certain level of quality. To create something that is good enough for people to benefit from. It is not acceptable to create something in a bad way that just annoys people or makes them feel like they spent good money on something that was of a very poor standard.

So we, as Christians, should aim to achieve certain standards. The Bible lays down those standards, and things like the Ten Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount, and the epistles of the apostles can all show us how to live better lives, how to strive for the perfect Christian lifestyle that Christ commands us to live.

[] Living or Dead Faith?

There are some who claim that just believing in Christ in enough, and that we need make no effort at all to be saved. James 2:20 tells us:

“But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?”

In other words, what we are told here, from the epistle of James, is that having faith by itself is not enough. It is a dead faith, and a dead faith is like being dead spiritually.

Christ condemned the Pharisees for being spiritually dead. They claimed they believed in God, but they did nothing that God wanted them to do in their normal lives, their attitudes and how they treated others.

Christ told a parable of a son who was lost and came back home, often called the parable of the prodigal son, in Luke 15:11–32. In this parable, we see the oldest son of a wealthy man decide to take his inheritance early and go off and spend it, having a nice life and enjoying himself. This son pictures people in the world who go and enjoy life.

But the son returns home after he finds himself poor, hungry and just feeding pigs. Considering pigs are unclean, he must have been working for a non-Jewish farmer, he was that desperate for something, after having wasted all his money.

But he repents and decides to return home, with humility, willing to just be his father’s servant rather than being his son again. But look at the reaction of the second son. This second son pictures the Pharisees and their self-righteous attitude, in which they condemn the older son, no longer even seeing him as a brother.

“So he answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’ ” (Luke 15:29–30)

The Pharisees thought they were perfect, and in this parable, Christ was showing that those who think they are already perfect have a wrong attitude. God was calling sinners to repentance, but the Pharisees did not like that.

The prodigal son went through a process. He thought he wanted to live the high life, he wanted to spend all his money, his inheritance, on things that would give him passing pleasures.

But once those pleasures had passed, and his money was all gone, he was down to having nothing. Through his trial of having to feed pigs, he learned that he was better off at home with his father, even if he had to be a servant.

He grew spiritually through his experiences, after making lots of mistakes. We can learn and grow as well after we make mistakes.

He was not perfect, but he was starting to move closer to being perfect when he returned to his father, but his younger brother was still a long way off from becoming perfect.

This does not mean that we should also be prodigal, i.e. living wastefully, so that we can later repent and return to God the Father with humility. We have already sinned more than enough in the past. If we are Christians then we can repent of sins as we notice them and grow spiritually, especially as we go through trials.

God puts us through trials to test our attitudes and faith. We do not want to have a dead faith.

In the things that we do our behaviour is just as important as what we believe. It is not good to believe in the command to not murder if then we go around hating everyone who annoys us.

And to go further than that even. Not just to refrain from hating, but, as Christ said elsewhere in summing up some of the Ten Commandments, to love your neighbour as yourself.

Some people tend to forget that last part. The bit about “yourself” is important, i.e. you need to love other people as much as you love yourself, and vice versa, i.e. you should not hate yourself, but love yourself as much as you love others.

But how can we do this perfectly?

We are weak, and we often fall down. We fail at many things. We try to achieve even the most basic things sometimes like love yet we are still not perfect.

[]Setting Goals

We need to set goals. We need to set realistic goals. We need to be aiming for perfection, knowing that we are not perfect, and that it will take a long time, if ever, for us to become perfect.

Chandler Bolt, the author of the book I mentioned earlier (Book Launch ), about getting a book done rather than perfect, also went on to explain that the more time you allow yourself to achieve your goal of writing your book, or whatever you want to do, the longer it will take you. And that most people achieve most of the writing in the last 10% or less of the time available.

That means that if you are going to write even just an essay, if you’re a student, and that deadline is 3 weeks away, chances are, most students will write most of that essay the night before it is due.

The better option is to set yourself an earlier deadline, the sooner the better.

Instead of thinking you have 3 weeks, think of it as 3 days or maybe 1 week.

That way, if what you write takes longer or is harder than anticipated, there will still be plenty of time to fix it or work on it.

If we leave things to the last minute then it greatly increases our chances of failure. Not always shall we fail, but better to not wait too long to sort out something. As Christians, if we leave it to the last minute, then what good is that?

God expects us to be working on overcoming our faults and sins now, all the time, not to wait until just before we die or until just before the time Christ returns.

It is good to set goals in life, especially spiritual goals, the main one being to enter the Kingdom of God, to be saved, to be part of the Family of God.

Other goals along the way can be set. We might have a goal of passing an exam, so study and prepare for that in advance. Or a goal of getting a promotion at work. Some jobs might lead to promotions, if a person works hard enough and shows enthusiasm for the job, as well as being a conscientious worker.

But you might be in a job where there is no chance of a promotion. Maybe your goal is just to do the job as best you can so that you don’t get laid off when the company needs to reduce the workforce.

Or maybe you are unemployed and lack any skills to get a good job. Then you can concentrate on other goals first, such as getting better skills, doing online training courses or free training courses in your local area, there are often courses for free or at reduced rates for unemployed people.

Or you don’t have a job and don’t need a job, then maybe you have a goal of just helping others, writing a book, growing a nice garden, or doing some other positive creative things you want.

But whatever we set a goal in, we usually cannot achieve it right away. It takes time. We are not perfect and cannot achieve goals perfectly right away. Taking time and effort to work towards the goal is important.

As Christians, we are working towards a goal of being perfect spiritually, and to be more like Christ, and to enter God’s Kingdom. But this takes time, and we cannot get perfect right away.

Becoming perfect is a process, and it takes a lifetime of working towards that to get anywhere. Repentance is a lifelong process. We all are sinners, in some way or another, needing to repent of past ways that were against God. But we do not earn salvation in any way through our efforts, it is the gift of God (Romans 6:23), but God wants to see the right attitude in us as we try to do the right thing.

Look at Mark 2:17

“When Jesus heard it, He said to them, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.’ ”

God calls us to repentance, which needs to be done daily, if we are to become perfect. Not that anything we do in this physical life can make us perfect.

[]It Is a Struggle

But we cannot even sometimes make a simple improvement in our progress towards perfection. We struggle against everything and seem to get nowhere.

But often when we are struggling in this world, it is because God is training us, moving us towards the more perfect way of a true Christian, to be more like Christ.

As Luke 6:40 tells us:

“A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher.” (NKJV)

A disciple is a student, one who is learning, from a teacher. A disciple is to be disciplined. Either by the teacher, or by their reactions to the situations they are in which are learning from.

The things we go through in life, we should learn from, to be more like Christ. If we go wrong, then God will discipline us, because He does not want us to stray away from the path to perfection.

We struggle with all kinds of difficulties in this life, and only after we have been through it all could we even get close to being perfect.

Consider the butterfly. It starts off life as a humble caterpillar, just a small fat creature with legs but no wings, and no real beauty.

One day in its short life, it will start to build a cocoon around itself. It hibernates inside the cocoon, preparing for its life in the future as a butterfly.

But once it is ready, it has to struggle to get out of the cocoon. It cannot just open a door and step outside. Instead it has to fight its way out. The cocoon is constructed such that it is not easy to get out of.

You may have heard or read the story of how one man tried to once help a butterfly get out of its cocoon, by cutting the end off, so that the butterfly would get out easily without a struggle.

The end result of that was that the butterfly got out easily, but was then unable to fly. Its ability to fly being missing, it could not then live its life and probably died quickly.

Its struggle to get out of the cocoon is what gives the butterfly the strength to use its wings to fly. That is essential to a butterfly, so it can fly around and get its food and so on.

If God were to just end our struggles, by solving all our problems for us, then we would not grow or gain the spiritual strength we need. Sometimes God will help us, bless us or make things easier for us, but overall God knows that we have to struggle in order to learn what we need.

Let us look now at Hebrews 12:2–11 to read a good explanation of how God disciplines us through our struggles:

“Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or faint-hearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?

‘My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.’

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (ESV)

We are trained by discipline, by God making us struggle at times, for the end result of yielding “the peaceful fruit of righteousness” i.e. to take us closer to perfection.

We go through trials, but these problems we have in life are often from evil spirits, i.e. the Devil and his demons. But God allows this so that we can struggle and grow spiritually.

Ephesians 6:12 tells us

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (NKJV)

We wrestle in spiritual battles. We do so to get closer to perfection. Life is a real struggle at times, especially for Christians. And as a Christian looking at how others live their lives, it can be discouraging at times to see others having an easy life while we struggle.

They seem to have a perfect life, yet we have nothing but problems, because we choose to follow Christ.

We aim for perfection, but the flesh is weak, even if the spirit is willing (see Matthew 26:41).

So is there a way to fulfil what Christ said in telling us to be perfect?

[]What Is the Solution?

We are not yet perfect, but want to be. Look again at what Christ said. The answer is contained in His words.

In Matthew 5:48 Christ tells us, “Therefore you shall become perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” (emphasis added).

We are not perfect, because we are physical human beings, in the flesh, and we have sins we need to repent of at times.

Christ said we are to become perfect just like our Father in Heaven. God the Father is perfect, but He is only perfect because He is a perfect spirit.

In other words, we cannot become perfect until we become just as God is — i.e. until we become spirit beings, in the Kingdom of God, when we get changed at the return of Christ, to become immortal spirits, perfect and without sin.

So Christ is commanding us to become more like God, to strive for that, to aim for perfection, knowing that we shall only achieve perfection when we are changed to spirit, to be like God.

We have to continue in these physical bodies, knowing that getting things done that please God is better than not doing something, making excuses or thinking that because we are not perfect we cannot do them. Some are paralysed by the fear of failure into doing nothing.

Nor to be thinking that we are already perfect and thus can do no wrong. The Pharisees were like that and we should not be hypocrites like them.

Perfection only comes when we are spirit beings, but to become a spirit being, we must be working towards that, just as people like lawyers have to study law for a long time, accountants have to study finance, designers have to study design.

And consider what we read in Galatians 3:3

“Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?” (NKJV)

Can we be made perfect by the flesh? This verse tells us that we cannot be perfect in the physical bodies we live in now.

We should live our lives according to God’s Word, striving for perfection, setting goals in things that God wants us to do, and doing something rather than nothing, knowing that the efforts we make today are better done now than putting them off.

Better to get things done than to only do those things we think we can do perfectly. Set the right goal in life.

Press on toward the goal of the Kingdom of God.

Philippians 3:12 tells us

“Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.” (NKJV)

When Christ returns, then we shall truly become perfect if we are to be part of that first resurrection, when we are changed from physical flesh to immortal perfect spirit.

As we read in 1 Corinthians 13:10

“But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.” (NKJV)

When Christ, who is perfect, returns to the Earth, and we, who are true Christians, will be changed. The physical part will be done away, and we shall have a new life as perfect spirit beings in the Kingdom of God, being like Christ and like God the Father.

Only then can we be perfect, but until then, we must prepare for that in our lives becoming perfect, albeit slowly and over a lifetime.

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[]About the Author

David A. King is a committed Christian who lives in England, enjoys technology, reading and writing, as well as foreign travel, and is a company director. He also speaks regularly in a Church giving short messages to inspire and teach the congregation, which includes people who watch via the Internet who cannot be there in person. He has been writing since childhood, and published his first book in 2015, although has had poetry featured in books published in 1989–1991.

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Becoming Perfect: How to be a better Christian

  • ISBN: 9781370153107
  • Author: Global Stuff Shop Limited
  • Published: 2016-08-31 00:20:11
  • Words: 5063
Becoming Perfect: How to be a better Christian Becoming Perfect: How to be a better Christian