I’d like to speak about this topic, specific to religious expectations that many of us place upon ourselves. Perhaps in your teachings, you have been taught that we must work towards perfection, because “No unclean thing can enter the kingdom of God”, (Moses 6:57).
I offer the teachings of Stephen E. Robinson, taken from his book, “Believing Christ”.
Let us begin with this misunderstood concept. “We have to righteously earn our way into heaven to be ‘Saved'”. Not true. Being saved is a gift from our Savior, who conquered the sins of the world. ALL mankind will be saved, regardless of sin, weakness, or lifestyle. The Saviors atonement covers All sins… not specific to some teaching of, “You do your best, and the atonement will cover the rest”. He took on all sins, from everyone. Being saved has nothing to do with our righteousness or lack of.
But, what is the definition of being Saved? This is where many religions differ in their answer. Being saved means to live beyond this mortal experience, with the possibility of one day living with God. Because of the atonement, we all will continue living on after we die.
So, where does righteous living come in to play? Is it fair to say that, “We are saved… therefore we can do as we wish?” If your desire is to exist forever, but in a state that is so much less than what you could achieve, outside the boundaries of where God dwells, then your answer is Yes.
I propose that through righteous living, we not only receive the immediate blessing of peace, but will be able to take all that we have become with us into the next life… Far accelerated beyond those who choose not to be obedient to Gods commandments. There are tremendous benefits here and in the next life of doing what’s right.
But since this post is in reference to perfection, let’s jump back into this mortal experience for a bit. Is perfection required of us now? Let me shout this to your spirit… are you listening? “Perfection here on this earth is not achievable! Not for you, or me, or even a prophet of God”. Stop thinking that this is your mortal goal.. It is impossible to accomplish!!!!!!!!!!!!!
From the book, “Your own efforts will suffice to make you a good person in relative human terms. You can become an honorable person and thereby qualify on your own merits for an approximate Telestial glory” (pg 27).
We all sin! We have been wired that way. Mosiah 3:19 states, “For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be forever.” Repentance was not to be “Plan B”. Repentance IS the plan. God knew that we would all sin. Therefore, he gave us a way to progress through that sin by repenting. Take away the expectation of perfection… it is not possible, and expecting that can be destructive to your growth.
For those of you who have sinned, and are despondent thinking… “I just can’t do this. It is too hard to live righteously every minute of every day”. My answer to you is, PROGRESSION, not PERFECTION. We have an opportunity to become perfect, but it will not happen in this lifetime. Don’t let your sins eliminate you from trying to get better and better each day. For progression is the expectation of God… not perfection.
God knows that we will make mistakes. Some of us even have the personality of always having to learn things the hard way. Sin is inevitable, but should not be seen as casual as “I can sin, and let the atonement take care of it”. We still have been given the charge of doing our best, Trying as hard as we can followed by sincere repentance for the times that we made a mistake.
My intent today was to put things in perspective. To identify what God truly expects of us while we are here. We can not expect to live a sinless life. We can expect a valiant effort on our part. To do our best… to keep trying, and to ask for His help for those pesky sinful habits that we can’t seem to shake.
God truly loves us… “Just the way we are, but too much to leave us there”. Let Him help us. But, please remove the unrealistic expectation of feeling that you need to be perfect. Feel better? I hope so. =)