In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ uttered those memorable words that have troubled saints and sinners alike ever since. “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48, KJV). Whether we find those words encouraging or discouraging depends, as with so many of our beliefs, upon the kind of person we believe our God to be. It also depends on our understanding of what He wants for His children throughout the universe. This is especially true for those of us who live on this planet, who have been caught up in the damaging consequences of the great controversy.
The topic of this chapter is the Christian doctrine of perfection, but in the larger setting of the conflict in God’s family. Rightly understood, perfection can be good news and speak very well of our Heavenly Father. But misunderstood, it can put God in a very bad light —it can make Him appear to be arbitrary, exacting, and severe.
As we’ve considered before, all God wants in His family is peace and freedom. But to have peace and freedom there must be mutual love and trust, maturity and self-control. Things like this cannot be commanded, or produced by force or fear. Instead God offers to set right and keep right everything that has gone wrong. That means He is willing to completely heal the damage that sin has done.