Years ago as a new believer, I slapped a popular bumper sticker on my Volkswagen: “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven.” Lots of comfort in those words for a mess like me.
But then I discovered this verse in the Bible: “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). Oh, no.
Doomed. I was doomed. How could an always-trying, never-succeeding perfectionist ever hope to be as perfect as God? I was defeated almost before I’d begun.
Then I learned the good news: the New Testament Greek word for perfect is teleios, which simply means “complete.” Finished. Done. Perfect.
When Jesus said on the cross, “It is finished” (John 19:30), He was using the same word. The payment for our sins was complete. His redemptive work on the cross was finished. His earthly assignment was done. His sacrifice was perfect—the very thing His Heavenly Father required and humankind desperately needed.
Here’s more good news: God’s perfection is enough. Because really, how could anything ever top perfect?
Moses told God’s people, “He is the Rock, his works are perfect” (Deuteronomy 32:4). We find a different word here in Old Testament Hebrew—tamim—yet with a very similar meaning: “complete, without defect or blemish, whole.”
That’s why this is a God we can trust, a God we can worship, serve, honor, and obey, since “his acts are perfection!” (CEB). He always gets it right. His way is “perfect” and His Word is “flawless” (Psalm 18:30).
In case you’re wondering, I did my best to scrape the bumper sticker off my VW before I sold it. Are we forgiven? You bet. Are we perfect? Yes (gulp), because His works are perfect. Is this a miracle? Absolutely.
Complete. Finished. Done. Perfect. Wow.
Lord Jesus, You alone are worthy of our praise. When we do something right, that’s Your power working through us. When we do something wrong, that’s Your mercy working in us. Because our first day and our last are ordained by You, Lord, You see us as perfectly complete, when all we can see is our unfinished mess. Thank you for showing us what perfection looks like: You, always You, Lord.
You’ll find a link below to Share Your Thoughts about His perfection. Your response will be a blessing to me and to all who take a moment to read it. Have a wonderful week!
Your grateful sister, Liz
Oh, the joy of seeing myself the way he sees me. So thankful I don’t like that bumper sticker any more.
Liz, thanks for sharing this with us.
Thanks Liz, for reminding me, another messed up gal, of God’s perfect love and my redemption.
Click here to unsubscribe! No WAY! I scrolled to the bottom of the screen to find out how to reply and thank you, Liz, for this article on Christ’s perfection in spite of my messes, when my eye fell on the last option of your page. I will NEVER choose that option because I truly delight to see your devotionals drop into my box. When our kids we’re younger, I read them your Parable series, over and over. Now I read them to my grade 3’s who light up when they catch on to the parallel scripture verses included at the bottom of the pages. And how I have enjoyed the lessons to be learned from those bad girls of the Bible! Thank you for pressing on with the incredible gifts of writing and encouragement that God has lavished on you. I really needed to hear that message…too often the enemy’s voice drowns out the Saviour’s because I let him. Understanding those key Greek words and meanings makes a huge difference! Thank you for pointing me to the truth in your friendly, humble way. Looking forward to your next post!
I am so glad to know that God is perfect and that was shown at the cross!
It is so wonderful that our perfect Lord does not condemn us in our imperfection: There is, therefore, now NO CONDEMNATION to those who are in Christ Jesus. Such a gift, and so different from our own Pharisaical tendencies.
Last year my resolution was to become healthy in 2014 and God brought to me the Daniel Plan through Rick Warren and his team of doctors and specialists. Praise God I am taking care of the Body He has entrusted to me. I am learning to protect my body not perfect it. God helped me to Lose 35lbs.
This year my resolution is to let God control every aspect of my days. To be my organizer and planner. I am praying that He will bring me into His greater purpose for my life.
Wow! What a relief. Such welcome words to hear. Another way of saying, “let go and let God!” He took care of all the pain so we could accept forgiveness!
Thanks Liz. I needed that.
Yes! God is the only perfect one and why should we want to be anyways? WE dn’t need to be perfect for God so loves us as we are! Amen
You have said it all. I can’t add anything to it. It is wonderful, Joyful, and I have shared it with someone I care about a lot just now. Thank you so much for these peaceful words.
Thank you Liz. I make sure to thank God everyday for his perfect love.
So thankful for your words (and the Word) today! We do not have to labor under the burden of perfectionism because He is Perfect and we are made in His image 🙂 His work is complete for us and in us! Praise His holy Name!!!
Thank you so much for today’s devotion. I know I will never be perfect. All I can do is walk in the way of the Lord. I know He sees me and He knows my heart. I praise God that I am His and He is mine!
After reading the meditation from Charles Spurgeon’s Morning by Morning this morning that focused on Col 1:28 (Perfect in Christ), this meditation from Liz serves as a brilliant confirmation of God’s word that I’m not only accepted in the beloved, but I’m perfect in Him. When my weaknesses throw a party in my front lawn, I’ll not despair, I’ll soon be clothe in a body that is perfection itself, I’ll soon be like Him! Thanks Liz, as always for bringing this confirmation from the throne of heaven.
I have always tried to achieve perfection — perfect house, perfect children, perfect marriage, perfect desk at work, etc. It has never happened. There are dust motes and dog hairs at home, children who have broken my heart and turned away from God, disagreements with my wonderful hubby, and you should see my desk!! But now I know that I can be complete in the Lord Jesus Christ and always know His love and forgiveness. Thanks, Liz, for your wisdom!!
Your words echo my life exactly! Trying to be everything to everybody, not happening. Experiencing frustration and disappointment when my best efforts have failed. I take comfort in knowing that Jesus loves me dispite my imperfections!
Hi Liz! Oh how I needed to read this today, and I can hardly believe that my daughter is old enough to read it too. It came to me toward the end that I wished I could share this with her, and then realized that at 16 she would be able to understand. Thank you.
It always comes to mind that as imperfect as I am that God is now and will ever Love me. I constantly pray he help me to become the person he has lead me to be.
The peace and reassurance this lesson gives is priceless…just like the gift Jesus gave us! I am one of those who see the mess I am. I am so thankful that Jesus has different eyes than I do and I can trust His heart.
God knew me so well, He sent a Perfect Savior, because He Knew I could never be perfect! Thank you Jesus!
Liz, I so needed to hear this today. I think I may be a perfectionist in recovery. So easy for me to beat myself up over past and present failure. Thank you dear Sister.
Thank you, Liz, for the reminder that our perception of ourselves should be based on what God says in His word, not our own or the world’s.
This is one of those things that’s easy to grasp on a spiritual level but not so much on a fleshly level. I tend to think I’m more in the “hot mess” category than the perfect category. But that’s just the fleshly me. I am His and that changes everything.
It’s His perfect will within us that makes us perfect by default. We are all so blessed in so many ways, yet so many of us don’t always realize it.
Thank you, Liz for sharing the blessing of this perfect blog post.
MY PURPOSE IS TO HELP OTHERS WHEN CALLED ON AS GOD HAS MADE ME PERFECT THROUGH HIS SACRIFICE.
I love you God, I love you Jesus, I love you Holy Spirit— our Lord is with us through all things, he answers our prayers. If you misplace something all you have to do is say — Jesus I need you I cannot find this or that. Etc. And he will. I like the lady above needed help with diet 🙂 I did that I ask God to talk to me in my sleep. When you ask to be healed and say In Jesus name I am healed —you just said “God healed” because “I Am”is God – Amen
I needed this. I needed it today and I need it for every day. I pray that I can wrap my head and heart around these truths and really “get” it. Heaven knows I need to!
Liz thank you for your prayerful research and added personal tid bits that bring the message across easily to apply to each of our experiences. We all have been misled by that bumper sticker phrase, but we can know that we are all ‘teleios’ in and thru Him. What a relief we no longer need to answer or make excuses to the world sytem. Ahhhh….just breath…being thankful with humble hearts that we can rest in knowing being grafted into God’s family it is finished! Now our part is to…. “The most Jesus could do is die for us. The most we can do is live for Him.” I found that phrase somewhere and apologize for not remembering who to credit it to.
I , too had the same bumper sticker on my car soon after I was saved . It was back in the 70’s and I guess that was the thing ! Love your studies and comments ! Thank -you
Liz thank you so much for sharing this ,the seed of His word grows deep in my heart . The explanation of perfect ( which I knew I was not) is to be complete and whole in Jesus’s finished work is shouting ground esp when you know how incomplete you are. Thank you
Amen Liz. I share a similar story then some years later by God’s sweet relentless grace I heard the rest of the Gospel. I am a new creation. I am a saint. I am in Jesus Christ & He is in me & He is in God & God is in Him. I am righteous, redeemed, pardoned, ransomed=perfect in Jesus. Free in Jesus. Thank you for sharing the rest of the Gospel too.
“Lord Jesus, You alone are worthy of our praise. When we do something right, that’s Your power working through us. When we do something wrong, that’s Your mercy working in us. Because our first day and our last are ordained by You, Lord, You see us as perfectly complete, when all we can see is our unfinished mess. Thank you for showing us what perfection looks like: You, always You, Lord.” — Thanks, Liz, for this perfect reminder — His work in me continues, yet it is Finished!
Phew, Liz – Thank you for this teaching – ‘complete’ – what utter relief.
In my search to be perfect by the world’s standards, I am thankful to be reminded I can cease striving and turn my eyes upon Jesus. He knows me through His eyes of love. He has made me complete!!
Liz…I just love you to bits. Thank you for this…
When I read your work I know that you relate to people who’ve been through trials, tribulations and heart sickness. I know that I’ve read this verse often thinking and feeling the same sense of being doomed. I am going to go and buy some sort of Hebrew/Greek translation book…any suggestions? It seems that sometimes we lose so much in the translation, it really does matter.
God bless you~
Patti D. Hemphill
Those words said so lovely just tie in with Romans 8:1 Therfore, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus the law of the spirit set me free from the law of sin and death….we are free and forgiven and perfect indeed through Christ who bore all our sins on that Cross..
Liz, thanks always for your encouraging words. I know we forget and try to do our best in our own strength, but then we grow tired and faint, and realize that yes–we were trying in our own strength to be perfect.
Liz, I am having so much stress in my life and I feel very far from perfect .
I love the words you used to share God’s character with us. When I do something that is good it is His power within me that He is using. When I do something bad He gives me His Mercy. I am reminded to give mercy when others words are not so kind.
So glad “his way is perfect”…and when we follow His way, our ‘way’ will also be perfect. No matter how it looks, no matter how it turns out, it will be ‘His’ perfect. And that’s something we can ‘rest’ in!
So grateful to be on the receiving end of your beautiful and encouraging words Liz!
May you be blessed!
We believed the world’s lie that we need to be perfect – in our own strength and ability. Thanks for the beautiful reminder that He has already accomplished perfection and graciously bestows it upon us.
Liz, thanks for the encouragement. I just don’t feel perfect. Thank you Lord, that you are .
Thanks for sharing Liz. So thankful for the cross!
As I face open heart surgery for a valve replacement maybe 2, next Tuesday morning, I am so blessed by your words.
Thank you for these words that I finally read today, 13 days after posting! It is finished! I heard those words at church last night and now again re-read them. My Dad is healed and a generational curse has been broken! Amen. I also hear your words to the perfectionist and know that I can move forward. I was a perfectionist for years, but after a friend prayed over me in that area, I released that and that is finished as well! Amen!