Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.
We are all familiar with the statement Christ made in His Sermon on the Mount to be perfect. It is a verse that Adventists accept as an enabling command. In the nominal Christian world, there are some who try to ignore or explain it away, while many others expect that at some point in their life’s journey, perhaps at the second coming or at the resurrection, Jesus will accomplish this act for them with a wave of His miracle-working hand.
Allow me to use a metaphor as a means of clarifying the challenge we face as Bible-believing Christians.
Suppose that instead of telling us to be perfect, God told us to fly. We know that He wouldn’t tell us to do that without also providing the means for us to fulfill the command.
We might be tempted to say, “I can’t fly.” Well, of course we cannot fly by ourselves, but God says, “I have an airplane, I have a pilot, and I have fuel.”
The airplane is the Bible and the hope it so unfailingly supplies; the Pilot is Jesus and the faith we have in Him to fulfill His promises and His enablings; and the fuel is the working of the power of the Holy Spirit and our trust in the working of that power in response to our prayers of faith.
These elements are also exactly what we need to enable us to achieve perfection. Although God provides the means, it is up to us to use them correctly and faithfully. The Bible is our instruction manual telling us how to fly—how to obey and overcome, thereby achieving the perfection that we seek in our sphere and the fulfilled hope that we harbor and yearn for so dearly.
Jesus is our Pilot, our Guide, who has trodden the narrow way before us. His life is clearly laid out as our example. As Adventists, we have been blessed not only with the description of Christ’s character in the sacred canon of God’s word, but we also have The Desire of Ages, an incredibly detailed and uplifting look into His daily life and faultless character. As fuel—the energy we need—we have the Holy Spirit to empower us as we seek to know and do God’s will.
Most importantly, though, we have the privilege of prayer. Inspiration tells us that prayer is (1) “the key in the hand of faith to unlock heaven’s storehouse.” Steps to Christ, 94, and (2) a means—“We cannot bring Christ down, but, through faith, we can lift ourselves up into unity and harmony with the perfect standard of righteousness.” The Review and Herald, October 30, 1888. What a privilege we have of beginning and ending each day’s activity in conversation with our Creator!
So, indeed, we can fly. We can achieve the obedience necessary to be awarded robes and crowns, palm leaves of victory, and golden harps!
Passages found in chapters 27 and 28 in Messages to Young People should provide us great encouragement as we seek to fly a straight course over the Jordan to the promised land.
“We have little idea of the strength that would be ours if we would connect with the source of all strength. We fall into sin again and again, and think it must always be so. We cling to our infirmities as if they were something to be proud of. Christ tells us that we must set our face as a flint if we would overcome. He has borne our sins in His own body on the tree; and through the power He has given us, we may resist the world, the flesh, and the devil. Then let us not talk of our weakness and inefficiency, but of Christ and His strength. When we talk of Satan’s strength, the enemy fastens his power more firmly upon us. When we talk of the power of the Mighty One, the enemy is driven back. As we draw near to God, He draws near to us. …
“Many of us fail to improve our privileges. We make a few feeble efforts to do right, and then go back to our old life of sin. If we ever enter the kingdom of God, we must enter with perfect characters, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing. Satan works with increased activity as we near the close of time. He lays his snares, unperceived by us, that he may take possession of our minds. In every way he tries to eclipse the glory of God from the soul. It rests with us to decide whether he shall control our hearts and minds, or whether we shall have a place in the new earth, a title to Abraham’s farm.” Messages to Young People, 105
“Christ has made every provision for us to be strong. He has given us His Holy Spirit, whose office is to bring to our remembrance all the promises that Christ has made, that we may have peace and a sweet sense of forgiveness. If we will but keep our eyes fixed on the Saviour, and trust in His power, we shall be filled with a sense of security; for the righteousness of Christ will become our righteousness. …
“We dishonor Him by talking of our inefficiency. Instead of looking at ourselves, let us constantly behold Jesus, daily becoming more and more like Him, more and more able to talk of Him, better prepared to avail ourselves of His kindness and helpfulness, and to receive the blessings offered us.
“As we thus live in communion with Him, we grow strong in His strength, a help and a blessing to those around us. If we would only do as the Lord desires us to, our hearts would become as sacred harps, every chord of which would sound forth praise and gratitude to the Redeemer sent by God to take away the sin of the world.” Ibid., 107
“While true faith trusts wholly in Christ for salvation, it will lead to perfect conformity to the law of God. Faith is manifested by works.” The Review and Herald, October 5, 1886
And faith is the element that brings together all of the components we need to be able to fly safely through this sin-filled world to the world beyond the Jordan.
There are several scriptures, when used together as we kneel before the throne of grace in conversation with our Maker that should give us great hope and encouragement as we recognize the love God has shown for us erring mortals by inspiring Paul to write them.
Through the inspiration and guidance these scriptures provide, we are privileged to pray that the Holy Spirit will enable us to bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Jesus Christ so that we may set our minds, our affections, on things above and not on things of the earth, allowing us to be hid with Christ in God, thereby, by faith, quenching the fiery darts of the wicked one (2 Corinthians 10:5; Colossians 3:2, 3; Ephesians 6:16).
Thanks to inspiration, we know that Satan uses the avenues of the soul—our senses—in his efforts to dislodge us from the path of truth and righteousness. However, if, when Satan injects unholy thoughts into our consciousness, either by what we see, hear, or sense in any way, we can remember the promises and the enabling commands that these verses provide. Then by making the conscious effort to direct our thoughts to things above, we are able to thwart the enemy’s efforts and can abide safely under the shelter of the Almighty, taking safe refuge under His wings.
We can indeed achieve perfect flight!
John R. Pearson is the office manager and a board member of Steps to Life. He may be contacted by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org