Healing for the Struggler | Holiness vs. Perfection

March was one of those months.

It was miraculous and devastating. It was full of answers that only unveiled a million more questions. There were good times and bad times. There were seasons of anticipation, love, heartache, repentance, and even seasons of vast temptation. Who could’ve imagined that a mere 31 days would possess so many seasons?

My desire to be perfect was ever so evident amidst it all. It wasn’t an option to uphold my (almost) always present high standards of perfection. Yet, I desired to cling to that piece of my life—the one place where I felt like I had the most control over.

I obsessed over the little things and drove myself insane with the big things. All while praying for guidance but holding onto the past.

Looking back, it was a month of growth. A month to embrace the gift of guidance from Christ.

In November, my grandfather’s memory began to fail after experiencing a possible case of COVID. While there are still no apparent signs of recovery, he has sung an intriguing verse every day since. The simple, mighty piece has shifted itself into my heart, implanting a new perspective on months of growth.

“Lord, help me to do the best that I can.”

When life is full of unpredictable events, we mustn’t cling to the stuff we supposedly can control but to the One who controls it all.

Looking back, I had vital choices to make. Joy or harping on pain? Repentance or ignorance? Fighting for my mind or having my mind battled against? All of which were answered once I clung to Christ first.

We all have hectic seasons that we wish our perfectionism could fix. That desire isn’t a sin. In fact, we were formerly designed for perfection. We were built for Heaven. The desire becomes sinful when we allow the enemy to use it for his gain, causing us to forget reality. We have all been entangled by this. Not just me. Not just you. Everybody.

Why Not Perfection?

In this thing called reality, we have been granted a timeless gift.

This gift was given to us due to our imperfection—our flaws. The gift I speak of is the gift of Jesus’s perfect, holy blood that was poured out for our sins.

We were not perfect, so God sent His only Son to be crucified for us. Why? So that our wretched, sin-sick hearts could be perfected. Notice, not perfect, but perfected.

According to Oxford Languages, the archaic definition of perfected is to “bring to completion; finish”. What was it that Jesus declared from the cross?

So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.

John 19:30 (NKJV)

Although He was speaking of His mission on earth, I believe He was also speaking of the completion of perfecting our hearts.

He had come as an innocent baby and grew into a man. His innocence never left Him even when there were ample opportunities. He preached to the multitudes, teaching them how they were to act, pray, and speak. He did this so they could be renewed in Christ. So that when it was time, the Holy Spirit could enter them and all of the descending believers. (We are those decedents!)

Apostle Paul states in Romans 3:23-26, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. God presented him as the mercy seat by his blood, through faith, to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his restraint God passed over the sins previously committed. God presented him to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so that he would be just and justify the one who has faith in Jesus.

Our goal here on earth is not to be perfect but to accept the perfecting (renewing) that Christ extends to us and strive to be holy—devoted to Christ.

Therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.

Romans 12:1-2 (CSB)

How Are We To Be Holy?

All throughout the Bible, we are shown what “holy” is. To my best effort, I have included several verses below to help you grasp the concept. However, I do pray that you’ll seek the Word much further, experiencing for yourself what it truly means to be holy.

First and foremost, by accepting Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are made holy in His sight. We are His beloved, precious children. He loved us even before we accepted or acknowledged it.

In return, with our every breath, we should strive to serve Him with joy and reverence. This looks like Romans 12:9-21:

Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.
Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Therefore
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

And 1 John 1:5-2:2:

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light, and there is absolutely no darkness in him. If we say, “We have fellowship with him,” and yet we walk in darkness, we are lying and are not practicing the truth. If we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say, “We have no sin,” we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say, “We have not sinned,” we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
My little children, I am writing you these things so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ the righteous one. He himself is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours, but also for those of the whole world.

We, as humans, cannot be perfect, but we do have a Father who has perfected us in the form of sanctifying us. When we dare to confess our mistakes to Him, we are set apart from the world, declared as holy.

Unfortunately, perfectionism is not the same as holiness. When perfection is the goal, Jesus is not. However, when holiness is our goal then our focus is on Jesus. Because without God’s hand moving amidst our lives, we cannot be holy.

When we consciously choose Jesus, we become “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nationHis own special people . . . who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.” (1 Peter 2:9-10)

If we read the above sentence numerous times but do not truly believe it, we will continue to strive for perfection rather than holiness. No matter how many ways we humanly justify it, the truth is still this: Perfection is our drive to appear better than we are in front of a crowd. Holiness is to know that we are not perfect but have been perfected through Jesus Christ and thrive in living out our days doing the best we possibly can for His glory.

We are not the people on our social feeds. Neither do we live for them. We can only live in the environment God has given us. Because if we are trying to appear perfect in front of them, we’re putting ourselves in an unsustainable environment where we cannot thrive for Jesus.

When we go through seasons of growth, and our perfectionist side goes into overdrive, let us remember the sacrifice Jesus made for us.

As Easter—the Resurrection Sunday—nears, let us amplify our thanksgiving. Let us take a moment to harp on the season we’re in. Is God the focus, or is appearing perfect the focus? Remember that we have the divine Lord who sent His only Son to this earth to die a brutal death… And rise again three days later.

He didn’t make the Greatest Sacrifice because we were perfect but because we were filthy. Due to this, we can welcome Him into our hearts, receiving the miraculous gift of being cleansed and having an eternity with Him. When we do this, we invite Him to renew and guide us.

He doesn’t lead us to a place of desperation for perfection but to a sacred place of devotion with Him.

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