1. CALLED TO BE PERFECT
a. What has Jesus called us to be here in this world? Matthew 5:48.
“God’s ideal for His children is higher than the highest human thought can reach. ‘Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.’ This command is a promise. The plan of redemption contemplates our complete recovery from the power of Satan. Christ always separates the contrite soul from sin. He came to destroy the works of the devil, and He has made provision that the Holy Spirit shall be imparted to every repentant soul, to keep him from sinning.” —The Desire of Ages, p. 311.
b. In whose image are our lives to be perfectly conformed? Romans 8:29
“The ideal of Christian character is Christlikeness. As the Son of man was perfect in His life, so His followers are to be perfect in their life. Jesus was in all things made like unto His brethren. He became flesh, even as we are. He was hungry and thirsty and weary. He was sustained by food and refreshed by sleep. He shared the lot of man; yet He was the blameless Son of God. He was God in the flesh. His character is to be ours.”—Ibid., p.311.
2. COMPLETE IN JESUS NOW
a. What encouraging declaration is made after we have experienced forgiveness of sin and the new birth? Colossians 2:10.
“Perfection through our own good works we can never attain. The soul who sees Jesus by faith, repudiates his own righteousness. He sees himself as incomplete, his repentance insufficient, his strongest faith but feebleness, his most costly sacrifice as meager, and he sinks in humility at the foot of the cross. But a voice speaks to him from the oracles of God’s Word. In amazement he hears the message, ‘Ye are complete in Him.’ Now all is at rest in his soul. No longer must he strive to find some worthiness in himself, some meritorious deed by which to gain the favor of God.”—Faith and Works, pp. 107, 108.
b. Having been justified by faith, in what condition are we to continue to stand? Colossians 4:12 (last part).
“The Lord Jesus acts through the Holy Spirit; for it is His representative. Through it He infuses spiritual life into the soul, quickening its energies for good, cleansing from moral defilement, and giving it a fitness for His kingdom. Jesus has large blessings to bestow, rich gifts to distribute among men. He is the wonderful Counselor, infinite in wisdom and strength; and if we will acknowledge the power of His Spirit, and submit to be molded by it, we shall stand complete in Him. What a thought is this! In Christ ‘dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him.’ Colossians 2:9, 10.”—Our High Calling, p. 152.
c. As our mediator what does Jesus never cease to do for those that abide in Him by faith? Hebrews 7:25 (last part).
“Jesus stands in the holy of holies, now to appear in the presence of God for us. There He ceases not to present His people moment by moment, complete in himself. But because we are thus represented before the Father, we are not to imagine that we are to presume upon His mercy and become careless, indifferent, and self-indulgent. Christ is not the minister of sin. We are complete in Him, accepted in the Beloved, only as we abide in Him by faith.”—Faith and Works, p. 107.
3. ACCEPTABLE OBEDIENCE TODAY
a. What essential truth must we understand in our efforts to please God? Philippians 2:12, 13.
“He who is trying to reach heaven by his own works in keeping the law, is attempting an impossibility. Man cannot be saved without obedience, but his works should not be of himself; Christ should work in him to will and to do of His good pleasure. If a man could save himself by his own works, he might have something in himself in which to rejoice. The effort that man makes in his own strength to obtain salvation, is represented by the offering of Cain. All that man can do without Christ is polluted with selfishness and sin; but that which is wrought through faith is acceptable to God. When we seek to gain heaven through the merits of Christ, the soul makes progress. Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, we may go on from strength to strength, from victory to victory; for through Christ the grace of God has worked out our complete salvation.”—Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 364.
b. Whose efforts and religious service failed to find acceptance with God and why? Luke 18:11, 12.
c. How alone are our good works made acceptable to God? Hebrews 7:25.
“The religious services, the prayers, the praise, the penitent confession of sin ascend from true believers as incense to the heavenly sanctuary, but passing through the corrupt channels of humanity, they are so defiled that unless purified by blood, they can never be of value with God. They ascend not in spotless purity, and unless the Intercessor, who is at God’s right hand, presents and purifies all by His righteousness, it is not acceptable to God. All incense from earthly tabernacles must be moist with the cleansing drops of the blood of Christ. He holds before the Father the censer of His own merits, in which there is no taint of earthly corruption. He gathers into this censer the prayers, the praise, and the confessions of His people, and with these He puts His own spotless righteousness. Then, perfumed with the merits of Christ’s propitiation, the incense comes up before God wholly and entirely acceptable. Then gracious answers are returned.”—Ibid., p.344.
4. BEING PERFECT TODAY
a. Abiding in Christ, with full assurance of our acceptance with God, what are we to do now? Hebrews 6:1.
“We can never see our Lord in peace, unless our souls are spotless. We must bear the perfect image of Christ. Every thought must be brought into subjection to the will of Christ. As expressed by the great apostle, we must come ‘unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.’ We shall never attain to this condition without earnest effort. We must strive daily against outward evil and inward sin, if we would reach the perfection of Christian character.”—Selected Messages, bk. 3, p. 148.
b. In our best efforts as believes to obey God, wherein lies our sufficiency to do so? 2 Corinthians 3:5.
“Christ is our pattern, the perfect and holy example that has been given us to follow. We can never equal the pattern; but we may imitate and resemble it according to our ability.”—Ye Shall Receive Power, p. 369.
“When it is in the heart to obey God, when efforts are put forth to this end, Jesus accepts this disposition and effort as man’s best service, and He makes up for the deficiency with His own divine merit.”—Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 382.
“Jesus loves His children, even if they err. . . . He keeps His eye upon them, and when they do their best, calling upon God for his help, be assured the service will be accepted, although imperfect.”—Ibid., bk. 3., pp. 195, 196.
c. As we go on to perfection, what does the Holy Spirit shed abroad in our hearts? What will this lead us to do? Romans 5:5; 1 John 3:18.
“The completeness of Christian character is attained when the impulse to help and bless others springs constantly from within.”—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 551.
“Where faith is, good works appear. The sick are visited, the poor are cared for, the fatherless and the widows are not neglected, the naked are clothed, the destitute are fed. Christ went about doing good, and when men are united with Him, they love the children of God, and meekness and truth guide their footsteps. .”—Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 398.
5. OUR ASSURANCE OF SALVATION
a. How complete is the forgiveness of sins offered to the repenting sinner? 1 John 1:9.
“Through the sacrifice made in our behalf, sins may be perfectly forgiven. Our dependence is not in what man can do; it is in what God can do for man through Christ. When we surrender ourselves wholly to God, and fully believe, the blood of Christ cleanses from all sin. The conscience can be freed from condemnation. Through faith in His blood, all may be made perfect in Christ Jesus. Thank God that we are not dealing with impossibilities. We may claim sanctification. We may enjoy the favor of God. We are not to be anxious about what Christ and God think of us, but about what God thinks of Christ, our Substitute. . . . The Lord shows, to the repenting, believing one, that Christ accepts the surrender of the soul, to be molded and fashioned after His own likeness.”—Selected Messages, bk. 2, pp. 32, 33.
b. What assurance do we have of God’s ability to save us from the power of sin today? Jude 1:24; Philippians 1:6.
“When Christ reigns in the soul, there is purity, freedom from sin. The glory, the fullness, the completeness of the gospel plan is fulfilled in the life. The acceptance of the Saviour brings a glow of perfect peace, perfect love, perfect assurance. The beauty and fragrance of the character of Christ revealed in the life testifies that God has indeed sent His Son into the world to be its Saviour.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 420.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. Explain how “be ye therefore perfect” is both a command and a promise.
2. Why is Jesus’s mediation so important for us today?
3. What is needed for all of our works to be acceptable to God today?
4. What does being perfect today mean for believers on a practical level?
5. How can we have perfect assurance of our salvation today?