Practically Perfect or Perfect Position?


#1

I’m visiting this form looking for the truth, and i want to thank everyone who has been so kind to answer all my questions. In one discussion thread i was trying to find out what role the good things i do have in my getting to heaven. Are the good things i do out of love for Jesus the reason He gives me eternal life or the result of His already giving me eternal life?

One thoughtful person said that the good things i do are certainly a reason (not a result), for Jesus said:“Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”(Matthew 5:48)So, i asked in another discussion thread how i might be perfect. The answers many helpful people gave me talked about all the good things i should do that would help me become perfect. I felt like Socrates who thought it strange that Protagoras saw no difference between being good and becoming good. I could understand how Jesus saying, “Become perfect” would be explained by doing good more and more, but i did not comprehend how i could ever reach a state of practical perfection and literally “be perfect” and as perfectly good as God Himself.

Then one helpful person suggested that this passage had the answer:Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool, because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. (Hebrews 10:11-13)He did not, however, go so far as to explain why this section of the Bible explains how i can be perfect.

Therefore, i’m asking anyone who has an idea what Hebrews, chapter 10 means to try to explain it to me. I have an idea, but i don’t want to hold it up like some kind of sword and challenge everyone to defeat it. I want to hear what others have to say and seriously consider whether what they say is true.

Please tell me, what do you think it is that the author of Hebrews believes makes us as perfect as God?


#2

First of all I would throw out Heb 10 FOR NOW and focus on Matt 5 FIRST. In Matt chapter 5, chapter 6 and chapter 7 is called the Sermon on the Mount, if you have never those three chapters you should do so before going on.

You will see what high expectations Jesus has for us, not that we will be perfect and sinless, but that we should STRIVE to be the best Christian we can be. Those who claim Jesus was demanding perfect sinlessness badly misunderstand and twist those words. One way this is easily seen is in chapter 6 where Jesus teaches Christians HOW TO PRAY…one of the things Jesus tells us to pray regularly is “FORGIVE US OUR SINS”…clearly recognizing we are not and cannot be literally 100% perfect. There are other examples as well in that same Sermon. The problem with most Protestants is that they take a single verse and build theology around it NOT REALIZING the context of the verse. (p.s. its no mystery that Protestants try not to focus on Sermon on the Mount)

I consider it your duty at this point to take some time and read ALL of Matthew ch5, ch6 and ch7 so you can know FOR YOURSELF what Jesus had to say with some context.


#3

Obedience to death. When someone becomes a Christian, he can either give only a little or give a lot.


#4

Socrates,
It is quite simple. All you have to do is link the two passages together.

In Matthew, Jesus tells us to be perfect. How does one be perfect?
We don’t.
Jesus makes those who are being made holy perfect, as it says in Hebrews.
So, what you have to do is not be perfect (which is impossible), but ***make yourself holy. By making yourself holy, you are being perfect.
***By the way, this doesn’t mean that your salvation is guaranteed or anything like that, of course you have to work out your salvation in fear and trembling, but you have to constantly put in the effort to make yourself holy - when you stop making yourself holy, you stop being perfect, and you no longer fall under the umbrella of those who are being saved by Jesus’ sacrifice.
How do you make yourself holy?
Listen what Catholic Dude posted and read the Sermon on the Mount.


#5

Consider what you just wrote, Dude:

… not that we will be perfect …
and

… we are not and cannot be literally 100% perfect …
Yet, Jesus clearly states that you and are art to:

“… be perfect, just as [our] heavenly Father is perfect.”(Matthew 5:48)
However, i must admit that what you said is true, that, at least i, cannot possibly be practically perfect. :thumbsup: As Socrates said to Protagoras:

Now there is a difficulty in becoming good; and yet this is possible. But to be good is an impossibility.
and

… God only has this gift, and … this is the attribute of him and of no other.
Jesus seems to agree, for He says:

“No one is good—except God alone.”(Mark 10:18)
So, yes, it is impossible for you and i be practically perfect, for practically we sin every day, even though we try to not do what we know is wrong.

The question to ask, then, is this: If we cannot possibly be practically perfect, then in what way can you and i be perfect?


#6

What about the guy who just had to give away all his money and follow Him to complete what was required of him to be perfect.


#7

Malcom:

How much would a person have to give to be as perfect as God? Do you think it is possible to be perfect practically, or do you agree with Dude that this is not possible? Can you think of a different way you and i can be perfect other than to be in a state of practical sinless perfection?


#8

Wonko:

Please consider what you wrote. Your first premise is this:

(1) How does one be perfect? We don’t. … what you have to do is not be perfect (which is impossible) …And your second premise is this:

(2) By making yourself holy, you are being perfect.Isn’t true that a person who is being perfect is in fact perfect? First you say it is impossible to be perfect (1), and then you say it is possible to be perfect (2). It seems a contradiction to assert that both (1) and (2) are true, for (2) is the opposite of (1). To be rational, you must either adopt (1) and reject (2) or adopt (2) and reject (1) or change the way you word (1) or (2) so that the two statements do not contradict each other.

For example, you could adopt Socrates’ argument against Protagoras:

… although there is a difficulty in becoming good, yet this is possible for a time, and only for a time. But having become good, to remain in a good state and be good … is not possible, and is not granted to man; God only has this blessing.If you were to hold Socrates’ position that there is a difference between becoming and being (or remaining) you might then amend your premises to say something like this:

(A) How does one be (or remain) perfect practically? We don’t. … what you have to do is not remain perfect (which is impossible) …and

(B) By allowing the Holy Spirit to make you more holy, you are becoming perfect practically, even though you likely will never reach a state of sinless perfection in this life.Do you agree that (A) and (B) are a more reasonable premises to hold than (1) and (2)?


#9

Leatherman:

Do you think Jesus was saying this?

(a) Giving away all your money will make you perfect practically.or was our Lord saying this to the man?

(b) Following me will make you positionally perfect, and then the Holy Spirit will give you the desire to give up your sin of greed, which can keep you from following me.


#10

Why do you say either, or.
He said both to that man.

Neither did He say positionally perfect.
He said perfect.

Why do you need to complicate things for yourself.
Here was a man who observed all of the law from an early age to the very best of his human ability. How far was he from perfection?
Simply to remove himself from any attachment to this world and follow Christ, and all that that entailed.

Not either, or.
Not positionally perfect.
Not complicated.


#11

*Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” **“Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments.” **“Which ones?” the man inquired. **Jesus replied, " ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’" **“All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?” **Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” **When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. **Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” **When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” *(Matthew 19:16-26)

Leatherman:

Are you saying that a man who follows the commands:
[LIST]
*]Do not murder
*]Do not commit adultery
*]Do not steal
*]*Do not give false testimony *
*]Honor your father and mother
*]Love your neighbor as yourself
*]And sell your possessions and give to the poor[/LIST]will actually be as good and perfect as God?


#12

I’d like to weigh in here, too.

Once again, I think the multiple choice format which you pose limits this sort of a discussion, for if I were to choose one, it would eliminate the possibility of a more portional and inclusive position. So, I’ll try to respond to both as possible glimpses of a fuller context.

(a) Giving away all your money will make you perfect practically.

In the case of ‘a,’ we must consider what Jesus is actually saying. In this passage from Matthew 19, Jesus is making this young man’s perfection relational to his obedience–he is giving him a role in his own destiny. YET, he is NOT saying “that’s it.” Instead, he says, “Then come follow me.” We must consider that it is practically possible for a human being, by grace, to reject sin and submit himself wholly to the will of God, as this is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Now, there are those nay-sayers out there who would deny this possibility. The Catholic Church, however, does not. In fact, our understanding of the Blessed Mother is a wonderful example of how God’s power is made perfect in even a humble servant. We believe as a tenet of our faith in Christ that He is mighty and powerful enough to raise even the lowliest of us to high places as we continually submit ourselves to His will.

or was our Lord saying this to the man?(b) Following me will make you positionally perfect, and then the Holy Spirit will give you the desire to give up your sin of greed, which can keep you from following me.

So, then, there’s ‘b.’ This is not wholly untenable, yet I think the positionally perfect issue is lacking as it rejects the actual possibility for perfect obedience, as seen in choice ‘a.’ Most of us have sinned. We know first hand the trappings of our fallen nature and we struggle daily with the tensions between obedience and freedom. And we know the movements of the Spirit to convict us as we strive for perfection. Surely, it is comforting to believe that no matter what we do or how we fail, we are positionally perfect. YET, this is not the message of the Gospel or the message of St. Paul to the Philippians (3:12). We are to strive for perfection. As we continually submit our wills and turn from sin, we are being made perfect. The concept and creature of time, I think, hinders our perspective of perfection within eternity here.

Christ Jesus, the Savior and Cause of our redemption and salvation, has designed that our whole life, our faith, hope, charity, and, YES, obediences are all relational to our final salvation (Matthew 25). This is how we understand His call to the young rich man and how we understand the message of the letter to the Hebrews. With newfound freedom from the law, in Christ, we can finally have an identity as children of God. No longer are we litigiously bound, but we are new creatures who can confidently and assuredly seek, knock, and be opened to the perfection never possible before Christ.

I believe Christ’s command and prayer “Be perfect” is a peek into the scope of His power. By faith, we must recognize that practical perfection is indeed attainable through grace and obedience. We must also recognize that, in the end regardless of our finite perspective and limited understanding, those who remain in Christ will realize his promise of perfection within the course of eternity.


#13

Hi, Jane. Good to read your thoughts, again! :slight_smile:


#14

Jane:

You have said some extremely deep and astonishing things (i am being sincere). I really do not know where to begin, as, like a child on Christmas Day i see many enticing packages under the tree, all of which i would like to unwrap at once! (Here, also, i am being sincere.) :slight_smile:

I hear what you say and think i apprehend what you say, but do not yet comprehend what you say. I’d very much like to do so by asking you questions to, as it were, unwrap the gifts of your ideas and examine them closer to see if they are truths i should keep as my own.

Will this be OK with you?


#15

Ask away. I hope and pray that I would have the answers. If not, my prayer is that others, as members of this same Body, would make up where I am limited.


#16

Socrates, in Hebrews 10, the writer is explaining how the Christ’s sacrifice makes salvation possible. If you like, it may help to think about it as Christ having already prepared a perfect ‘you’ which you will be in Heaven. What you then do on earth is about trying, through knowing Christ and following His plan, to become closer and closer to that perfect ‘you’, the you you are supposed to become. Few, if any, of us, will achieve that this side of death, but the closer we get now, the better it will be for us in purgatory, and ultimately in eternity.


#17

I pray that you will see the truth as well! Pray also for me. :slight_smile:


#18

(a) Giving away all your money will make you perfect practically.

(b) Following me will make you positionally perfect, and then the Holy Spirit will give you the desire to give up your sin of greed, which can keep you from following me.
Yes, i agree, both (a) and (b) might be true at the same time. The other possibility is that both (a) and (b) are false. There might be other premises that are true, which you might assign the letter © or (d). I’m open to all these possibilities.


#19

Jane:

So, on to my questions, unless. of course, you would like to ask questions of me first. I do not wish to be rude and believe that a lady should go first, or at least choose whether or not she would like to do so.


#20

Great! I don’t see a sea of difference in our thoughts on this, then. My strongest opposition regards the term “positionally perfect.” Maybe that is because I don’t know exactly what it means??? I have some ideas of things it could mean which I would reject, but perhaps they are not your meaning. Could you explain?


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