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Thursday, September 24, 2015

"Be ye therefore perfect"

In His teachings to the people during the Sermon on the Mount, Christ admonishes the people to "be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect" (Matt. 5:48). What a daunting task! How are we as human beings supposed to be perfect? Even more, how could we possibly hope to attain the level of perfection of our Father in Heaven? A closer look at the translation of this verse gives some insight and comfort. The word translated to "perfect" in the English translation of the Bible is actually τέλειος (téleios) in the Greek, which means "complete" (www.blueletterbible.org). So, Christ is not telling us that He expects us never to sin, make a mistake, or mess up. What He is saying is that we must be whole and complete in our growth and progression. In this section, Christ also gives us the "beatitudes," which can be thought of as a list of spiritual steps to repentance. We must be humble and teachable, recognize our wrongs and feel sorrow for them, desire to become better, forgive ourselves and others, teach righteousness to other people, and be willing to stand up for what is right no matter what persecution may follow. There are also ordinances (spiritual acts that we do to symbolize a promise with God) that we must receive in order to become whole. Christ showed us the example as He was baptized and given the gift of the Holy Spirit. He was free of sin and did not need to be cleansed, like we are when we are baptized. So, there must be some other reason that baptism is a requirement besides just the cleansing effect it has. The ordinances of the gospel signify promises and commitments we make with God and they allow us to be fully prepared to meet Him someday. This gives me a lot of comfort to know. I am certainly not perfect in the sense of never doing anything wrong. But, that is not what the Lord asks of us anyways. He knows that we make mistakes. He accepts that we have weaknesses and wants to help us improve. What He wants from us is commitment and earnest effort to change. By following His commandments and laws and receiving the proper ordinances of the gospel, we will be able to achieve completeness like God asks.

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