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Be Ye Therefore perfect; What does it really mean?

There was a great post over at Mormon Matters on whether God can tempt us above that which we are able.  In short, I think that it is possible for us to be tempted more than we can bear,  Does it come from God?  I’m undecided.  But if you want to weigh in on that topic, click here.

I did engage in somewhat of a threadjack, and want to post some of the comments regarding the concept of perfection here.  What does perfection really mean?  Here are some of the comments there.  The formatting is a little goofy, but here is the essence.

35.  Valoel

When people bring this up at Church, I usually take the opportunity to point out that it is not correct. God allows temptations of ALL people greater than their capacity. The proof is not a single person except Jesus Christ (according to our doctrine) makes it through this life without sin. If we ALL fail, then we must ALL have been tempted beyong our ability.

I know the response to that — well, people make the decision and choose to sin. They could resist right? Maybe in theory, but the testing is obviously waaaaaaaaaaay too intense or else surely 1 other person of the 70 billion that passed through mortal existence so far would have been perfect.

41 MH– Jan 3rd, 2009 at 11:57 am

  • I know my next comment is slightly off topic, but I want to piggy back off of Valoel’s comment about Jesus being sinless. I think we often have an unrealistic view of what “sinless” means. Surely Jesus lost his temper. In his day, he was known as a sinner who broke the Sabbath, associated with sinners, was a wine-bibber, was a blasphemer, and frequently lost his temper with the Pharisees. If we even go into a bar now, we would be viewed as a sinner. Surely if we lost our temper and referred to people as “vipers”, most would accuse us of sin. In fact, I would say that some of Jesus’ rants would be the same as flaming someone on a blog today…

  • MH, you might be interested in the following:

  • http://thingsofmysoul.blogspot.com/2008/03/what-wouldnt-jesus-do.html

    From one of the comments:

    “Perfection” is the end result of continued progress, NOT an absence of mistakes. The gift of forgiveness changes the standard.

    Another one that might interest you:

    http://thingsofmysoul.blogspot.com/2007/12/problem-with-popular-perceptions-of.html

  • hawkgrrrl

    MH: “In his day, he was known as a sinner who broke the Sabbath, associated with sinners, was a wine-bibber, was a blasphemer, and frequently lost his temper with the Pharisees.” I watched a show with a rabbi who said Jesus was basically an apostate Jew. It was an interesting change in perspective for me.

  • 45 MH

    Hawkgrrrl, what is the name of that show? It sounds quite interesting to me.

48 – MH

Ray, thanks for the links. I am getting more comfortable with what perfection is not, but I’m not sure I have good vision of what perfection really looks like in a practical sense.

51 spektator

If you consider the greek from which the word ‘perfect’ is derived from the New Testament (example Matthew 5:48), you will find that ‘complete’ is also a good definition. The connotation is not that we do everything completely right (perfect) but that we complete all that has been asked of us. In this sense, each of us may have different assignments to finish and each can be complete. Hope that makes sense.

52 Mormon Heretic

Yes, spektator, I’ve heard that definition before. But let’s talk about the implications. Does this now mean that Jesus was a sinner? If we are merely supposed to be complete, as Jesus, (Be ye therefore perfect, as I and my Father are perfect – 3 Nephi) rather than sinless, then that seems to have big implications regarding the atonement, doesn’t it? How does this all relate to losing one’s temper with Pharisees, or fellow bloggers? If we are supposed to be like Jesus, is losing one’s temper not a sin?

Please continue the conversation.

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68 comments on “Be Ye Therefore perfect; What does it really mean?

  1. “Fully developed” seems to fit the overall meaning best. If I had to pick one of the footnote substitutes in Matthew 5:48, that would be it.

    No, I don’t think he “lost” his temper in the temple. The picture I get is of a very intentional, premeditated, violent act, since he took the time to “fashion” a whip. It seems to me like he saw what was happening, decided to clear the temple, made a proper whip and then went at it. I don’t think acting violently necessarily is a sin or transgression, since I can think of multiple situations where I would feel totally justified in perpetuating violence to stop bad actions from continuing. The actual wording didn’t condemn selling there; it implied there was a degree of theft going on. I’m not sure what that means, but it is enough, imo, to justify clearing them out forcefully.

  2. Ray, I’m sure Jesus reaction to the temple vendors was premeditated. In our modern sense, I’d say Jesus lost his temper, and it doesn’t matter that it was premeditated. Maybe this is a semantic argument…

  3. Yeah, probably semantic.

  4. Hi. I’m the new kid on the block.
    Let me start out this way.
    “…no unclean thing can inherit the kingdom of heaven…”(Alma 11:37).
    Before we can deal with the Spirit of the law, we’re going to have to have the Spirit us with when we interpret the letter of the law. Once we get the letter down right we will know what God wants us to learn from the letter.
    Tara! Among the very many good things you said, that was an excellent point you made about Christ being the lamb without blemish. “But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a blamb without blemish and without spot: ” ( 1Peter 1:10).
    Now think about what is being said here. If Jesus had, at any time in his life, committed any sin whatever, that sin would have made him spiritually unclean. He could not have taken part in the atonement experience. Why? Who’s going to forgive him and make him spiritually clean again? God, the Father? No! That’s against the law. “For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.” (1Cor. 15:21). Since death came into the world by an act of man (not God) then the escape from death would have to come by an act of man. So Heavenly Fathter sent his son into mortality to do that work.
    Further, “And now, behold, my beloved brethren, this is the way; and there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God. And now, behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is one God, without end. Amen.” (2Nephi 31:21). Again, If he commits a sin during his mortality who’s going to forgive him? He can’t and according to the law as stated in the scriptures, and neither can anyone else!!
    All of the incidences in the scriptures, involving acts of Jesus, whether at the temple with the whip (yes, it was a whip) and the loud condemning voice (not the coach!) and the destruction of private property, referring to the woman as a dog, what he said to the people when he came down from the Mount of Transfiguration,(“how long shall I be with you?) Matthew 17:17, and any other you can think of, must be interpreted as acts that were done in 100% righteousness – wether you comprehend that or not.
    Remember! Just because God commands not to do some things doesn’t mean He never does them himself.
    Jesus commanded us to forgive 70 X 7 times. (If you read that with the Spirit, 70 x 7 means ‘always’. If you don’t believe me, try it once.) Does God always forgive?
    Of course not. “and whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost it shall not be forgiven. (Luke 12:10). The same goes for killing. Read about Moses’ and Joshua’s assualt on the land of Caanan. “And we took all his cities at that time, and utterly destroyed the men, and the women, and the little ones, of every city, we left none to remain:” (Deut. 2:34) and the command to Saul given through the prophet Samuel, “Thus saith the Lord of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt.
    Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass. ” (1Sam 15:2-3).
    All of this killing was done by God’s commandment and the children of Israel would have been punished quite severely if they had not done it. Can you imagine taking a baby with one of you hands, cutting it in half with a sword in your other hand, and going away with the idea that you’ve done the work of the God? Well, it’s happened many times.
    The Saviour was perfect in every way. There was no spiritual or physical defect in him. It was because of his involvemnent in the Atonement that he gained a complete understanding of all the suffering we would ever go through in this life and more – much more!
    If you are not getting this out of the scriptures than you are not interpreting them correctly and without a correct interrpretation your conclusions will always be saddly warped.
    This is not rocket science. You can do much better than you’re doing.

  5. Corrections –

    Once we get the letter down right we will know what God wants us to learn from the letter. (<– Spirit, not letter)
    Once we get the letter down right we will know what God wants us to learn from the Spirit.

    Also – next time I’ll run my stuff through spellcheck before sending it.

  6. Rich,

    With all due respect, you should read some of my other posts. I don’t claim to have the popular perceptions, and I am trying to look at these incidents with a new perspective.

    I think Joshua’s act of genocide was not God’s will. See http://www.mormonheretic.org/2008/08/19/joshuas-unholy-war/

    All of the incidences in the scriptures, involving acts of Jesus, whether at the temple with the whip…. and any other you can think of, must be interpreted as acts that were done in 100% righteousness.

    Ok, I won’t feel bad about throwing chairs on a basketball court ever again, and I’ll happily refer to you as a dog. Thanks for the clarification. It’s great to be able to do these things in 100% righteousness. I guess if the Savior did it, then it’s good enough for me. Thanks dog!

  7. MH:
    “as the LORD God of Israel commanded. ” For virtually all of Christianity, the Bible is the source of the knowledge of God and His teachings to mortals. For the Latter-Day Saints there are a few more. My question to you is – on what is your ‘perspective’ based? If it doesn’t mean anything to you that the present scriptures tell of men that claim to have communicated with God these are things he really did tell them to do then you need to communicate with God yourself and get Him to tell you what is right and not right with the present scriptures. This sort of thing has already been done. “Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you concerning the Apocrypha— There are many things contained therein that are true, and it is mostly translated correctly; There are many things contained therein that are not true, which are interpolations by the hands of men.” (D&C 91:1-2). That leads to another question – Are you sure you’re up to it?
    “I think Joshua’s act of genocide was not God’s will.” What kind of statement is that? The Holy Scriptures say that is was God’s will MH says that it wasn’t. MH might be right but he needs to give us something substantial – not just ‘I think’. If God has talked to you about this then claim it! If you had done this, that would have ended the discussion. That would have left the rest of us to go to God for ourselves to find out about your claim. As it is we have nothing.
    The scriptures must stand as they are presently written. “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.” (Duet. 4:2). If God wants them changed, he will send his servants to do it. If you are one of those servants, then make it known.
    And yes he could throw chairs on a basketball court and do it in 100% righteousness. You cannot. He could call a person a dog (or a fox – “And he said unto them, Go ye, and tell that fox…” (Luke 13:32)) and do it in 100% righteousness. You cannot. He can refuse to forgive in 100% righteousness. You cannot. It is because you cannot do these things in 100% righteousness that he commands you not to do them at all in an effort to lead you away from sin.
    I recommend the Holy Scriptures as a foundation on which to create and build your perspectives. It isn’t always easy but it is effective.
    MH! Floating around is for bubbles. You have much more to give than that. Get founded.

  8. Rich,

    Thanks for stopping by. This subject has been beaten to death. You are restating several things others have said, and I have no desire to rehash this again.

    However, I would be interested in how you react to my “Sometimes God says No” post. Are you interested? Frankly I’m surprised that nobody seems interested in that post. If you’re not interested (perhaps the subject is too hard), then can you tell me why?

  9. MH:
    Yes. Tell me how to get there.

  10. If you click “home” at the top of the page, you can see all my latest posts. Or you can click here to go to this post in particular.

    http://www.mormonheretic.org/2009/02/04/sometimes-god-says-no/

  11. Rich, fwiw, you are misreading much of what has been said here. If you really are interested in understanding, please go back and read every word slowly and carefully. I think (hope) it will change what you think is being said.

  12. MH. Ray wants me to read through everything slowly and carefully. I’ve now tried that for about a fourth to a third of the material and it’s become agonizingly painful. Within the ‘covered material’ here are some of the things you have said. Just skim through it. You will recognize it all.

    _____________________________________________

    God allows temptations of ALL people greater than their capacity. The proof is not a single person except Jesus Christ (according to our doctrine) makes it through this life without sin. If we ALL fail, then we must ALL have been tempted beyond our ability.

    Jesus was angry and rude

    Relatively undeveloped; primitive: a rude and savage land; a rude…

    Here are some cases of Jesus was probably yelling. Note, the exclamation point in many verses. If Jesus was in a church, he would have been pounding the pulpit.

    We see how serious Jesus was in Mark 11:16 “And would not suffer that any man should carry [any] vessel through the temple.” This had to require intimidation to prevent people from carrying items through the temple grounds.
    Surely this required some use of physical force. And verse 18 shows how angry the leaders were: And the scribes and chief priests heard [it], and sought how they might destroy him.

    How does this all relate to losing one’s temper with Pharisees, or fellow bloggers?

    I’m not sure where I stand on predestination or foreordination, but I tend to downplay such things. I agree with Seth that this would tend to take away free agency.

    I think Mormons tend to overemphasize ize the sinless part of perfection.

    After all, I think it is relatively easy to be complete. Many of us are well-rounded individuals.

    Is civil disobedience a sin?

    It is quite obvious to me that the vendors at the temple were acting legally, or else the Pharisees and Sadducees would have outlawed the vendors. Yes perhaps the vendors were overdoing it, but Jesus cleansing the temple has been argued to be an instigating incident into his own execution. It could be argued that Jesus contempt for Pharisaic authority meant that he got the ultimate punishment, and from a Jewish perspective, an appropriate punishment for disrespecting God’s temple.

    Overthrowing tables is not losing control?

    Seth and Tara, I agree that anger is not necessarily a sin. But I can’t agree with you on Jesus not losing control. Perhaps it was justified, with him being the Savior, but I have to real issues with this trite phrase: What would Jesus do?

    Most people act like Jesus never raised his voice, never got angry, never got drunk, as if he were some sort of Ghandi. I find this characterization ridiculous. It is clearly obvious that many of the Jews considered him a vile sinner.

    _____________________________________________

    Why do you want to think this way? You say that people tend to view Christ as two dimensional. You then claim he is really three dimensional. So why have you zeroed him out? By the time you’re done with him he could never have been the Savior.
    Why does it matter to you what the Pharisees and the chief priests thought of Jesus? There is only one concern you listed that really matters. What would Jesus do? And what is that? His will was swallowed up in the will of the Father (Mosiah 15:7). All he ever did was what the Father told him to do. So now you’ve got even the Father as being a sinner. Who said that. Well, the Pharisees and the chief priests, I guess.
    If you are in any situation that is repulsive to you whether at a temple or a basket ball game, your only concern is ‘What would Jesus do?’ or in other words, What does Heavenly Father want you to do? Oh, and please, never mind what the Pharisees and the chief priests want you to do? If you are living right you will have the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost to guide you in obtaining that knowledge. Try not to look on that divine guidance as Heavenly Father not letting you grow up by taking away your agency.
    If you think that my conversations, with you, are nothing but unpleasant, you should be in the Sunday School class and the High Priest group I attend. I talk to them the same way I talk to you.
    Why do you think the way you think?

  13. “So why have you zeroed him out?”

    I don’t understand this question.

    “Why does it matter to you what the Pharisees and the chief priests thought of Jesus?”

    Jesus lived in our world. He dealt with the same problems we do. He was unfairly judged just as we are. To me, this makes him real. Too often, people talk about Jesus as myth, and I feel like you treat Jesus as myth. You do not view him as a real person.

    Jesus is perfectly understandable in your view. You have no idea why the Pharisees misunderstood Jesus, because if you were a Pharisee, you would have been easily converted. To me, you show a tremendous lack of understanding in your analysis of Jesus.

    Yes, you’ve quoted several things I have said, but you have failed to understand my main point. Let me quote it to you again. Comment 15 really outlines my purposes, but let me quote a few things again.

    I think we often have an unrealistic view of what “sinless” means. (Found in original post)

    I am trying to understand truly what constitutes sin. For example, most people today would consider that a person who got angry enough to tip over tables and chairs would be a sinner. Well, this is not necessarily the case–Jesus was angry and rude, and but did not sin. Ok, so can we all agree that a person can get angry or be rude, and still be considered perfect?

    So, if “be ye therefore perfect” means that we can still be angry and rude, then what else can we do, and still be considered perfect? That’s the point of the post–better defining what “perfect” means. What traits might a perfect person have? Can we list them?

    Unfortunately, you think I am merely attacking Jesus. You have missed my point completely.

  14. “Jesus lived in our world. He dealt with the same problems we do. He was unfairly judged just as we are. To me, this makes him real.”

    If you really want Jesus to be real then you’re going to have to get divine revelation. He will reveal that reality to you in the name of His Son, and the power of the Holy Ghost. The reality of His perfection will then be clear to you – that Jesus wasn’t spiritually unclean in any way. Abstaining from any act or thought that would have made Him spiritually unclean is something He never did. The perfection taught in Matthew 5:48 is this: total abstinence from any thought or action that would make you spiritually unclean. Stop seeking reality through the world. Divine revelation is what kills myth.

    Yes, it is possible to be angry and perfect at the same time: IF that anger is prompted by the power of the Holy Spirit. Bruce McKonkie said that is not possible for mortal man. I tend to agree with him.

    As for Jesus being rude, there are three references to the word ‘rude’ in the scriptures and all of them are based in human frailty. Nobody who is based in divine revelation could ever refer to Jesus as rude. The woman who was referred to as a dog was far above the rest of the world. She knew who Jesus was and what he was. Rudeness was definitely not one of them. The idea of a ‘rude Jesus’ is a very ugly myth.

    Now listen to yourself talk.

    “So, if “be ye therefore perfect” means that we can still be angry and rude, then what else can we do, and still be considered perfect?”

    When God is angry, when God kills, or when God hurts people, He does it because He IS perfect. You come across as though you want to do things that would be wrong for you to do (NOT GOD, mind you) just for the sake of doing them. Now I don’t think that’s what you really want to do. What I think your intention is to lash out at the ignorance and childishness of others.

    No. I don’t think you are attacking Jesus.

    “And this is alife beternal, that they might cknow thee the only true dGod, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast esent. “.

    Hey MH! Write a blog sometime on what just God, the Father, has told you about himself and His Son. Not even what the scriptures have told you. Not anybody. Just what He has made known to you, personally. I’m afraid I couldn’t do that. I have had strong feelings but I just don’t trust myself.

    I believe (for myself, I suppose ‘gamble’ would be a better word) that there is a Heavenly Father. His Son is Jesus Christ. There is one church on earth that is His. In His church He has defined certain writings that are holy.
    If you can interpret those writings correctly then you can learn about God. But If you want to know Him you will have to go beyond that. The feelings I’ve had together with what I know about the scriptures govern everything I say. One of my problems (at least, according to others) is that my frailties seem to govern my tendency toward an attack mode.

  15. Rich,

    “I think your intention is to lash out at the ignorance and childishness of others.”

    Thanks for the personal attack.

    This post is over a month old now. We are not communicating. You are taking my quotes out of context. My patience is thin.

    I am going to try to emulate the Savior, and turn the other cheek by not responding.

    Please click “home” at the top of the page. I have a real interesting perspective on the Holy Ghost, and Near Death experiences. I would like to see if you think I’m a heretic, or if you think that the author’s explanation is a plausible explanation of the Holy Ghost.

  16. […] be ye therefore perfect what does it really mean […]

  17. […] that didn’t sound very meek to me.  Jesus lost his temper.  I had someone argue that Jesus wasn’t angry, but it sure seems like a Bobby Knight temper tantrum to […]

  18. […] that didn’t sound very meek to me.  Jesus lost his temper.  I had someone argue that Jesus wasn’t angry, but it sure seems like a Bobby Knight temper tantrum to […]

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