Take time to read Romans 4. Meditate upon it today. We are going to focus for a few days on the religion of perfectionism. In other words, a religion of perfectionism is having a religion that is dependent upon me being flawless and sinless.
In order to please God with a religion of perfectionism, you have to be completely perfect. Flawless. Sinless. Perfection. And if you are able to pull that off (which you won’t), then God owes you a debt. It is no longer salvation by grace through faith. When your religion is perfectionism, it affects every aspect of your being, including your relationships.
To whom do you turn when you have a theology of perfectionism? Well, you will turn to God, but how do you see Him? Is He always angry at you? Are you trying constantly to apologize to keep Him from punishing you in His wrath because you will never be good enough?
You could turn to religion, doing all kinds of great works, but why are you doing them? Are you doing these works out of a response to God’s grace, or are you trying to earn God’s favor? Are you doing these works to evoke positive responses from people so you can feel approved and accepted?
This might hit home for you. I know a lot of people, including myself, who struggle with this. If that is the case for you, you need to rethink your theology. This kind of religion is a soul-crushing, burdensome, suffocating, anxiety-causing form of Phariseeism. That’s not what the Bible teaches at all. That’s not the God of the Bible, Old Testament or New Testament!
The apostle Paul had the law, and his heart’s desire was to keep it. But in what condition did he find himself? Broken, wretched and in need of deliverance. Why? Because he could not have peace with God (nor with himself) by keeping the law flawlessly. The moment you mess up once you have ruined your chances. The deliverance and freedom from condemnation came through Jesus, not through Paul.
So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Romans 7:21 – 8:4)
Yes, we are commanded to keep God’s commandments (John 14:15). Yes, God demands holiness (1 Peter 1:16-17), there is no doubt. And yes, we do work to please God out of reverence and godly fear (Hebrews 12:28-29), but that is not all! That is not the complete picture!
More to come tomorrow, Lord willing.