Prepare for this study by reading Matthew 5:38-48. Verse 48 reads, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." It is natural for children to imitate their fathers. Certainly, children of God desire to be like Him. They try to be perfect, like God.
As perfection is our goal, we can never be satisfied with less. The attitude of the self-satisfied Pharisee is completely out of order. Luke 18: 9-12. It must be our desire, as children of God, not to sin. "My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not." 1 John 2:1. In spite of this goal, the Scriptures show that "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." Rom. 3:23. Thanks be unto God that He provides a way whereby we can be forgiven. 1 John 1:6-10 & 2:1,2. See Acts 8:18-24.
We must keep striving for and growing toward the goal of perfection. "Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection." Heb. 6:1. Peter urged Christians to feed upon the word of God so that we may "grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ." 1 Pet. 2:2; 2 Pet. 3:18. We continue pressing toward the proper goal. We are not to "please ourselves" (Rom. 15:1) or seek to impress others. "Do not your alms before men, to be seen of them; otherwise ye have no reward of your Father who is in heaven." Matt. 6:1. "If I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ." Gal 1:10. We do not compare ourselves with other imperfect people. "They measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise." 2 Cor. 10:12. We must make it our aim to be like our Father in heaven.
As God is our example, we now consider some things which are characteristic of Him. (1) Jesus gives the difficult command, "Love your enemies." Matt. 5:44. God has given us the example because He demonstrated His love for us by giving His Son to die for us even while we were sinners. Rom. 5:8. (2) We must do good for those who are evil as well as for those who are good. Our Father "makes His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust." Matt. 5:44,45. (3) We are to love every member of the family of God. "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and every one that loves is born of God, and knows God. He that loves not knows not God; for God is love." 1 John 4:7,8. (4) We must not love the world, "The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, or the pride of life." These things will pass away and so will those who love the world. 1 John 2:15-17. (5) Children of God are not to be physically, mentally, or morally lazy. Jesus said, "My Father works hitherto, and I work." John 5:17. (6) If we are like God, we will be truthful. "God cannot lie." Titus 1:2. (7) If we are like Him, we will be careful in making promises, and we will faithfully fulfill them. "The Lord is not slack concerning His promises." 2 Pet. 3:9. (8) God gives good gifts to men. James 1:17. When we see our fellowman in need, we will show compassion and provide those things they need as we have opportunity. Gal. 6:10; I John 3:17,18. (9) God does not want anyone to die in sin and be lost. 2 Pet. 3:9. We should feel a debt to preach the gospel of salvation to all. Rom. 1:14-16. Every child of God is concerned for the lost and will seek the opportunity to teach them the Gospel. Matt. 28:19,20. (10) Peter said, "Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that fears Him, and works righteousness, is accepted with Him." Acts 10: 34,35. Children of God will not allow race, social position, or material wealth to cause them to show partiality. James said, "If you have respect of persons, you commit sin." James 2:9. (11) God is willing to forgive His children who confess and forsake their sins. 1 John 1:9; Acts 8:18-24. We must be willing to forgive our brethren who sin against us and repent. Luke 17: 3,4. (12) God does not tempt us or set stumbling blocks in our way. James 1:13. As God's children, we must not do anything that will cause a brother to sin. "It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor anything whereby your brother stumbles, or is offended, or is made weak." Rom. 14:21.
If we are faithful, loving, and trustful children of God, our reward will be great. "We know that, when He (Christ) shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall sec Him as He is." 1 John 3:2. For those who strive to be like God and press toward the goal of perfection, by the grace of God they shall attain that goal in the life to come. "This is the promise that He has promised us, even eternal life." 1 John 2:25. See 2 Timothy 4:6-8. 111 Heather Court, Scott Depot, WV 25560.
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