It’s really frustrating to not be perfect.
Yeah, I know. Confidence, sanctification, blah blah blah. But I’ve spent a majority of my life trying to be perfect, so excuse me for getting a little miffed by not accomplishing that in the last 24 years.
In high school, I was obsessed with appearing perfect. All the things I did—getting straight A’s, going to church every Sunday, not partying, not dating, not swearing—were only because I wanted to seem perfect. All that mattered was that everyone thought I was a perfect Christian.
But as I grew in my faith, I realized (in classic Lutheran fashion) that my sin runs so deep that I’ll never be perfect, no matter how hard I try or how perfect I seem.
I yearned to just be rid of my sin already. This earthly life suddenly seemed pointless—if I can’t even come close to being perfect, then why bother?
Continually falling into sin—especially deliberate, recurring sin—meant experiencing failure every day. For someone who spent most of her life trying to be perfect, that’s a hard reality to live in.
When you have a deep knowledge of how much God hates sin, how much your sin is in direct opposition to Him, you feel the weight of your sin. You feel not just the consequences you face on this earth, but the eternal significance of sin.
I knew of grace. I knew I was forgiven. But I still despaired, fully understanding St. Paul’s dilemma:
“For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.” (Romans 7:18–19)
I found myself longing for heaven, where I would finally be made perfect in Jesus. No more struggling with sin. No more daily battles. No more nights spent awake, racked with guilt.
“Our sad experience living east of Eden is that we are always in motion, either motion toward God’s perfection or away from it. . . . We’re declared justified by God’s grace and are seen as innocent by God’s choice through the sacrifice of His Son. But our actual experience feels far from that”
One baby step toward perfection and two giant leaps back. Frustratingly falling into sin day in and day out. It’s exhausting to feel this hopeless.
But despite our daily failures, God declares us perfect.
“Hold up,” you might be saying. “Didn’t you just say no one is perfect, etc. etc. in 400 words?”
Yes. But hear this truth:
“We are declared perfect by God even in the middle of a long restoration, far from any visible perfection.”
We’ll never be perfect in this life—case closed, end of story—but we’re declared perfect anyway. Our hearts might be rusted over, our minds might be clouded with doubt, and our actions might be influenced by incorrect motivations—but God looks at us with infinite patience through the work of His Son and gently smiles, saying we’re perfect anyway.
“Our perfection is in God’s proclamation that we are not guilty; His proclamation is complete and perfect by the work of Christ.”
It is only because of God’s patience that we can live imperfectly on this earth. This is certainly no excuse to keep on sinning: “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means!” (Romans 6:1–2).
But we can live in the tension of knowing we are both sinner and saint—never able to achieve perfection, but always striving to become more like Christ.
Patience and Perfection explores this very tension; read chapter one for free below.