Robert Morris - Perfectionism
We are beginning a new series today, called "Perfect or Perfected," and I'm going to explain these words over the next four weeks to you - "Perfect or Perfected," and I'll go into it a little bit more today, because today we're gonna talk about perfectionism. The word, "perfect," is a buzzword today. I don't know if you've noticed that. You know, you say to someone, "Hey, what about Thursday for lunch"? And they say, "Yeah, I can do Thursday, but I need to do an early lunch". You say, "Well, how about 11:30"? And they'll say, "Perfect". I feel like saying, "Well, I don't know whether it's gonna be a perfect lunch or not, and I think you're getting your expectations up too high. Let's just say it'll be good, okay? Let's just go for that".
But, I have a friend of mine that, when I'm talking to him and I'm explaining something, okay? "So, we're gonna have the meeting next Tuesday". "Perfect". And I say, "And then we're gonna talk about"... "Perfect, perfect, perfect". Just everything I'm saying, he says, "Perfect" to, you know? And again I'm thinking, "I think he's got too much, too high expectations for this meeting we're gonna have next Tuesday," you know. So, we're gonna talk about perfectionism today, okay? So, three points for you, here's number one - I'm not perfect. I'm not perfect. Now, I'm not talking about Pastor Robert. This point isn't Pastor Robert's not perfect, even though Pastor Robert's not perfect. I put it in first person because when you remember these points I want you to say, "I'm not perfect," not, "You're not perfect".
Pastor Robert said, "I want you to say, 'I'm'". Everyone follow me? When I'm talking about, "I'm," I'm talking about you, okay? And me, okay? Matter of fact, turn to someone and say, out loud, "I'm not perfect". Okay, now of course, they're thinking, "I knew that". Here's the definition from Merriam-Webster of "perfect" - being entirely without fault or defect. Being entirely without fault or defect. Now, in all of my messages, the whole message and then each point, I do explanation. I explain the point to you and I back it up with a Scripture. Then I do an application and I apply it to our lives, then I do an illustration. Explanation would be basing the point on Scripture. It has to be based on Scripture.
As I looked at this point, I thought, "You know, I probably don't need ten Scriptures to prove that we're not perfect". I think we all have that. Matter of fact, it's easy to say, but it's hard to live. But, let me just give you one Scripture, all right? Romans 3:23, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God". "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God". So, most of you know this Scripture. It's what we call the "Roman Road," how you can lead someone to Christ, Romans 3:23, Romans 6:34, and Romans 10:9. But, this word, "sinned," is the Greek word, "hamartano". Most Greek words - I've told you this part before, but I just want to remind you of this if you don't remember. Most of the Greek words, the majority, over 50%, either have a sporting context or a military context.
When the Bible says, "Take every thought captive," that word, "captive," is a military context. When the Bible says, "Let the peace of God rule in your heart," the word, "rule" in the Greek has a sporting context. It means umpire. Let the peace of God tell you it's safe or out for you. Let the peace of God umpire in your life, all right? This has a sporting context, this word, "hamartano". It means to miss the mark, and many of you might have looked this up in a Greek - "Strong's" or something, you know, a lexicon. But, the thing I need you to know is the background of this "miss the mark". It's archery. It's referring to archery. It's referring to an arrow that doesn't hit the bullseye. But, I want you to think about this. It's the bullseye, not the target.
So, you've got this great big target with this bullseye. The arrow might be one or two inches off. It still hits the target, but it doesn't hit the center of the bullseye. That's what this word, "sinned," means. It doesn't mean debauchery. It means that you just barely missed the center of the bullseye. So, I just want you to know when the Bible says, "All have sinned," you'll hear some people say, "Well, yeah, I'm sure I've made a few mistakes". No, you haven't hit the center of the bullseye every time, every day, every second of every day. You've not been perfect. And so, that's what this means.
So, perfectionism, you've got to realize, is an unreachable goal for humans, and here's the sad thing - we're still trying to reach it. And all it does is cause more stress, more anxiety, more worry. It just wears us out to try to be perfect. You can't do a perfect job. I can't preach a perfect sermon. I've tried. I used to preach six times a weekend, three on Saturday night, three on Sunday morning. You'd think after six you could get it straight. I can remember saying to Debbie, "Finally". I got I the car one time, I said, "Finally, I did it". She said, "What did you do"? I said, "I preached a perfect sermon. The last one, that was perfect". She went, "Mmm"... I was like, "What"? She said, "Well, you know, you're tired, Robert. You've done six, and sometimes your mind gets tired, and you know". I said, "It was perfect". She said, "Well, you said there were ten disciples and there were twelve. You said twelve commandments and there are ten. You just got some things backwards, you know"?
So, I've never preached a perfect sermon. I admit I'm a recovering perfectionist. I'm not in denial, I'm recovering. I can tell you, by the way, how to spot a perfectionist. Now, some of you are gonna like this illustration, some of you are not. Some of you, when I say it, you're gonna say, "Well, I've said that, but I'm not a perfectionist. I know perfectly well I'm not a perfectionist". Here's how you can spot a perfectionist. He will tell you he's not a perfectionist. People who don't struggle as much in this area don't ever feel the need to tell you, but people who struggle - well, it's so funny to watch your faces. Those of you who are lying, you're just hiding from me right now, but God sees you. All right, here's number two. Number one is I'm not perfect, and here's number two - He is perfect. He is perfect. Let me give you some Scriptures.
Psalm 18:30, "As for God, His way is perfect," without fault or defect.
Psalm 19:7, "The law of the Lord is perfect". Here's one specifically about Jesus.
Hebrews 4:15, "For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our," let me just put another word in here, imperfections, "our weaknesses," our imperfections, our missing the mark, "but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without," missing the mark, without every missing the bullseye one time - "without sin," same word. Without ever missing the mark. He never missed the mark. Jesus never, ever missed the mark. He's perfect.
So, that's gonna be very important for the third point, okay? So, I'm not perfect, He is perfect, but let me just give you a little bit more about His perfection. The world examined Him and couldn't find a defect. The leader of the world couldn't find a defect. You remember? A very famous statement, "I find no fault in Him". Who said that, do you remember? Pilate. Do you know how many times he said it? See, I always like to give you a little trivia. We were watching a trivia before the service on the monitor, and I got them all right. Praise the Lord! He said it three times. Three times, Pilate said it! Let me just read them to you, because it's important, and these are all within a matter of a few verses.
John 18:38, "Pilate said to Him,'What is truth?' And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews, and said to them, 'I find no fault in Him at all.'" Then just about, I think it's about six verses later, Chapter 19, Verse 4, "Pilate then went out again, and said to them, 'Behold, I am bringing Him out to you, that you may know that I find no fault in Him.'" And then, two verses after that, Verse 6, "Therefore, when the chief priests and officers saw Him, they cried out, saying, 'Crucify Him, crucify Him!' Pilate said to them, 'You take Him and crucify Him, for I find no fault in Him.'" That's our Savior - no fault.
Again, I told you I'm a recovering perfectionist, so I had hundreds of illustrations for this message I had to toss out. I just didn't have time to go through all of my imperfections with you about being perfection, and so, but let me tell you something that happened this summer. So, Debbie and I drove up to Jackson Hole. Hey, everyone at Jackson Hole! And, we spent 10 days, 14 days there, something like that. Went to church up there, had a great time. Drove my truck up, you know? But, we're going along the highway, and we've got the automatic air conditioning where you can just set it on whatever temperature you want, you know. So, hers was set on 71, mine was set on 72, and she just happened to notice this. I just reached over and turned mine from 72 down to 70. And she just noticed it and thought, "Well, he was on 72, and you know, mine's on 71. He went to 70," you know?
Well, about 10 minutes later, I reached back and I turned it back to 72. 10 to 15 minutes after that, I turned it back to 70. Now, some of you are ahead of me on this illustration. Now you're finding out how deep my problems actually go. And so, she said to me, "What are you doing"? And I said, "Well, I don't know, I'm adjusting the air". "Yeah, but you keep going between 70 and 72". I said, "Well, 72 is too warm and 70 is too cool". Are you all getting it? And some of you understand! How many of you understand why? Okay, yes, thank you! So, she said to me, "You do know that there's a number between 70 and 72". And I said, "Yes". She puts it on 71. I put it back. She said, "Just put it on 71". I said, "I can't put it on 71, Sugar". She said, "Why can't you put it on 71"? It's an odd number! I said, "It's an odd number," and here's what she said. "Who says it's an odd number"? The whole mathematic community says it's an odd number! It's an odd number! I said, "Sugar, I can't, it's odd". Here's what she said. "You're odd".
So, I'm not perfect, He is perfect. Here's number three - I am perfected. So are you, as a believer in Jesus. This one's... this is where I wanted to get to. This is the meat of the message. This is the revelation that's gonna take you deeper in your walk with God. We are perfected by grace, perfect in the Father's sight, without fault or defect. By grace, that's the only way you can get there. So, I'm gonna show you a Scripture that I would think it would be in the high 90's of people that don't have revelation about this Scripture, high 90th percentile. Because if you don't read all of Scripture through the eyes of grace, the lens of grace, you'll never understand the Bible. It all has to be... the Old Testament, too. It all has to be read through the lens of grace, 'cause God didn't change from Old to New Testament.
So, I'm gonna show you a Scripture that's from one of the most famous sermons that Jesus preached that we have, the Sermon on the Mount, and it may have thrown you for a curve before this Scripture. Matthew 5:48 says, "Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect". Have you ever read that Scripture? Have you ever thought, "I can't do that one. I'm gonna have to go on Chapter 6"? And, Jesus not only says, "I want you to be perfect," then He has to throw on top of that, "Just like your Father is in heaven," just like God is. "I mean, not just perfect for a human, I want you to be perfect like God is".
There's no way to understand that except through grace. So, I'm gonna read it again, but I've underlined a couple of other words so we can understand it. Same verse, Verse 48. "Therefore you shall be perfect," you shall be, "just as your Father in heaven". "You shall be," that's future tense. You're not now, but you shall be. You're not now. "You're nowhere even close now, but once I do for you on the cross what I'm going to do, you will be perfect and complete in the eyes of My Father, lacking nothing. You shall be perfect in the sight of My Father once I finish what I'm gonna do". Now, this word, "perfect," you know, I love Greek. It's "teleios," and it's an adjective, so it's describing a noun, which is you. You're the person. But, here's what it means, and you can even see it in some other versions of the Bible. It means complete. "You shall be complete" - complete, finished. Sometimes it's translated actually "finished," sometimes it's translated "complete". "You shall be complete".
Now, I want you to think about this. "You will be complete once I complete you". You're going to be. You're not now, but you're going to be complete. And the other word is "finished" - finished. Let me show you where the verb... this is the adjective, where the verb is in the Greek of this word, which is "teleio". Teleios, teleio, okay? I know you...make sure you write that down correctly, okay? But, this is the verb, so this is the action when it happens. John 19:30, "So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said," it is complete, "It is finished". This is the same word that we just read in Matthew 5 that translated, "perfect". "The work that I just did on this cross is perfect," and then He bowed His head and gave up His Spirit. It's done. It's finished. "I've done the work now. I was describing how you would be once I did the work, but now I've done it". Are you all following me? Because of what Jesus did for us, we have been perfected, made complete.
Now, I'm gonna shock you a little with this next part. Jesus, even though He was perfect, was also made complete. In other words, the work which He had done, which He referenced many times, "I'm here to do the work of My Father," and then He kept telling the disciples, "Here's how I'm going to do it, and I haven't done it yet," and they kept rebuking Him for it. He said, "Because, see, in order to do the complete work of My Father, I've got to be delivered to the chief priests and scribes, and I've got to be crucified, and I've got to be buried, and then I'll rise again on the third day". And they kept saying, "No, far be it from You, Lord". But, I'm gonna show you a lot of Scripture now. I'm just gonna read through a list of them and show you where this Greek word about being made complete, made perfect, is in the Bible, all right? And then you can go back and look at them.
By the way, Colossians 2:10 says, "And you are complete in Him" - the same word, "You are perfect in Him". But, watch this where Jesus says, "I'm going to be made complete. I'm going to be perfected". By the way, to give you a little context, the verse right before this is they said to Him, "You know, Herod's gonna try to kill You. Herod wants to kill You". And just to show you how scared Jesus was, this is what He says, Luke 13:32. "And He said to them, 'Well, go tell that fox,'" so He wasn't really worried about Herod. "'Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures,'" watch the reference here to the three days, "'today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.'" See, when He said, "You shall be perfect," the reason you're not now is because "I haven't been perfected". In other words, "I haven't done the complete work yet. Once I do the complete work, you'll be complete".
So, now He's saying, "I shall be," future tense, "on the third day perfected". Hebrews 5:9, "And having been perfected," that's Jesus, made complete, finished His complete work, "He became the author of eternal salvation to all those who obey Him". John 17:23, this is His prayer in the garden. He's praying for us to be won. "I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect," same Greek word, "made perfect". Hebrews 12:23, "To the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all," now watch this, "to the spirits of just men made perfect". Your spirit has been made perfect by what Jesus did.
Galatians 3:3, "Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit," now, the whole context here is grace and law, so having begun by grace, "are you now being made perfect by the flesh"? Are you now being perfected by the flesh? In other words, by your own work. Hebrews 10:1, "For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year," watch this, "make those who approach perfect". Now, that "make perfect" is the same Greek word. It's separated in the sentence, but he's saying that the law can never... those who approach can never be "teleia," made perfect.
Now, I know that I've kind of entered into, like a Bible college class with you, but I know also that your spirit is fed by the Word of God, so just stay with me, because if you catch this, you can stop trying to be perfect - when you catch you've already been perfected, you've already been made perfect in the sight of God. Hebrews 7:28, "For the law appoints as high priests men," let's say it this way, who are not perfect. "Men who have," people who have, "weaknesses, but the word of the oath," the oath refers to the new covenant, "which came after the law, appoints the Son who has been perfected forever," completed.
And then, one more verse, and this is where it brings in how we're still imperfect, but we've been perfected. Hebrews 10:14, "For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified". Let me give you a little version of that. He has made perfect those who are still imperfect, those who just aren't perfect yet, which is all of us - He's already made us perfect in the sight of God. I'm telling you, when this dawns on you, and we're gonna go deeper and deeper over the next few weeks. When it dawns on you that what Christ did on the cross is complete, that you don't have to strive to be perfect anymore because He's already perfected you. I'm not perfect by my performance, but I am perfect in my position before God, because the perfect One perfected me.
Another way to say it is, I'm not perfect in my behavior, but my belief puts me in a perfect relationship with God, my belief in Christ. Again, I still struggle. We all struggle in this area, I think. And so, I was talking with a counselor that helps me work through some things, and I was just so frustrated that at my age I still have weaknesses and imperfections, and I know we all say, "Well, I know I'm not gonna be perfect". But, you know how it is, you get frustrated.
You think, "Okay, by now I should be over this," you know? So, I'm telling this counselor and you know, I'm going through it, and I'm just, you know, and you know, he's listening, and in a minute he said to me, "Robert, you are really good at giving grace to others, but you are lousy at giving grace to yourself". "You are really good," and I'm saying it again because I want some of you to hear this from the Holy Spirit. "You're really good at giving grace to others, but you are," some of you are, "lousy at giving grace to yourself". And what I'm hoping through this message is that you'll receive God's grace, and you'll quit being so hard on yourself and striving for something you can never attain through your behavior, but you've already attained it through your belief, because the perfect One has perfected you.
Isn't it great that God has perfected us by grace, and I want to encourage you to give grace to yourself to receive God's grace we're not perfect in our performance but we're perfect in our position before God. I love this series. I believe that God is going to so speak to you through this series and I'm gonna continue this series next time. I'll see you then.