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 (Manna 71: What Does God Require of You?)
The Road to Perfection
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The Road to Perfection

F.F. Chong—London, UK

Human nature is generally fallible and susceptible to external influence. Try as we might, whether we are an ordained minister or just a believer, achieving Christ-like perfection sometimes seems to be an impossible dream. Worse, we live in a world where corruption is the norm. Waning spiritual sobriety then exposes us to a spectrum of allurements, making it doubly hard for us to attain spiritual perfection.

Despite such gloomy prospects, Christ offers us the most uplifting promises. We are told that as Christians we can become perfect. We are reassured that with God’s help, the impossible will be made possible. The road to perfection, though long, can be completed—not by puny human strength or will, but by yielding completely to the Spirit for empowerment and by following His word. Above all else, we must constantly long for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. Based on this premise, we strive toward perfection.

The Law of God is the foundation on which we build ourselves unto perfection. In particular, Deuteronomy 10:12 points to the very means to help us attain perfection: to fear God, love Him, walk in His ways, and serve Him with all our heart and soul. Revisiting and understanding the elements in this Mosaic instruction will serve as the signposts on our road to perfection.

Through the Fear of God

In the book of Proverbs, we are told that the fear of God leads us away from evil (Prov 3:7b). The Hebrew word for “fear” (yare) has also been translated as “revere” which we generally associate with a deep respect and awe. As humans, we are wont to pay little heed to people we do not respect. In contrast, we often seek to draw near to and emulate those whom we admire. Clearly then, when reverence for God is a natural part of our lives, we will gradually move towards perfection and away from evil because God and evil are two opposing forces that cannot coexist in our hearts. Loving one means hating the other. If we allow evil to gain a foothold in our lives, it will erode godly reverence and eventually destroy our spiritual life.

To protect our hearts from evil, we first need to understand why we should fear God. God is our Savior. He saved us from this world of corruption. He has given us all things pertaining to life and godliness, enabling us to be partakers of the divine nature (2 Pet 1:3–4). Since He has paid the heaviest of prices and traded His life for ours, it is only natural and necessary for us to revere this Master of our lives. Fearing Him is our duty (Eccl 12:13). Yet if sin dominates us, our lives, which were meant to be kept in Him, would be detached from His (Col 3:1–3).

Fearing God also means that we do not compromise God’s principles. Only then can the fear of God reign supreme in our lives and truly help us to know and understand Him (Prov 1:7; 9:10). Knowing God, in turn, will help us navigate through this life. In this way, we build ourselves upon the foundation of the truth to become perfect.

Through Love for God

The word for love (aheb) is associated with affection. Everyone enjoys being the recipient of heart-warming affection. It is also fairly easy to give our affection to a person we can see. However, to love the Lord whom we cannot see may be difficult; and constitutes an even greater challenge when we cannot perceive His presence in our lives. While we may say we love the Lord, but at the most critical point, it is moot unless we can actually manifest this love. In the Old Testament, the house of Jacob, in their ignorance, practiced idolatry because they could neither see the Lord nor experience His help in time of trials. In contrast, the saints in persecution manifested a very different and unique love for Jesus whom they had never seen before (1 Pet 1:8). The depth of their love for God was unshaken by the severity of the trial in which they were.

How can we build up such a strong love for our Lord? The central message of God’s word is that whatever God does is for our good (Ps 136), although it may be difficult sometimes to accept His word because it contradicts our stubborn will. However, faith can do wonders. Practicing His word by faith unlocks the power contained within, filling our heart with His love and great understanding.

Some find the word of God restrictive. But those who love God see His kind intention embedded in His word. Similarly, a young person often finds it difficult to perceive the loving intention underpinning parental control over him or her. However, one grown into maturity understands that deep love is the underlying reason for parental guardianship. Thus, for us who know God, abiding in His word is the most concrete expression of love for the Lord. If we do so without any hesitation, but with sincere submission to His will, we will find that His yoke is easy (Mt 11:30). In short, when we resolve to love God, we are actually working towards perfection.

By Walking in His Way

God’s way is the best way. This is not a mere theory or slogan. It is a way of life and the only way to be blessed in the Lord (Ps 1:1–2; 128:1b). But as always, it is much easier said than done. Sometimes, we may even find it suffocating to walk in God’s way because our obstinate human nature with its natural tendency to sin wages a constant campaign to turn us against God.

So how can we wholeheartedly walk in God’s way? Prophet and apostle alike give us the same answer—we must reorder our lives completely and purge ourselves from all corruption (Jas 1:21; 1 Pet 2:1). There are two ways that purging can be done. First, we can initiate it ourselves. James 4:7–10 provides us with useful and very practical pointers – cleansing our hands (i.e., abandoning our past vile habits and conduct); purifying our hearts (i.e., turning our minds back to God); humbling ourselves (i.e., acknowledging that we cannot overcome our weaknesses on our own and thus relying on Him). Then, when we have purged ourselves of hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, out of our clean heart and steadfast spirit (Ps 51:10) will flow sincerity and uprightness, incessant thanksgiving to God for all that He gives and words of grace to everyone in all circumstances.

Second, on occasions that our Lord recognizes the need for us to be purged before we do, He puts us through trials. Trials enable us to grow to know the Lord and ourselves better. Pushed to the end of our road, we realize that God is the only One we can rely on. In the midst of our suffering, we are compelled to take a careful and honest look at ourselves. When we do that, we shall be able to identify the many blemishes that continue to separate us from our Holy God. Once identified, we humbly ask for His mercy and forgiveness, as well as the strength to overcome these weaknesses. This is not unlike emerging from the great tribulation with our robes washed clean in His blood (Rev 7:14). We become perfect in the eyes of God by the grace of His forgiveness. This is most precious of all.

Walking in God’s way requires great trust. Although we acknowledge the need for purging, there are times we are not quite able to see why we have to suffer. We are not the first and certainly will not be the last to struggle and doubt (Ps 73:2–4; 77:1–3; Hab 1:1–3). Indeed, adversities are particularly unbearable when the solution we long for is not forthcoming although we have asked for wisdom from the Lord. This seriously tests our determination to follow the Lord’s way. Through these times, we must cling on to God’s promises that He knows what we are going through and that He intends it for our good. Paul is a sterling exemplar to us in such a situation (cf. 2 Cor 12:7–10).

Through Wholehearted Service to God

Serving God is a grace that none is worthy to receive. Those who have come to this realization humbly declare that God granted them the great privilege to serve Him out of His mercy (Rom 12:1; 2 Cor 4:1; Eph 3:8). Serving God goes beyond the physical aspect of executing the assigned tasks. Our characters are revealed in the course of rendering service to God. Pride and jealousy – the dark aspects of human nature – easily surface when the heart and motivation to serve are not right before God.

How should we serve God? Besides putting in our best effort, serving God wholeheartedly must include the willingness to correct ourselves before God and others. This is particularly important for those who occupy leadership positions in the church as they are under the scrutiny of the whole church. Since every human errs prior to reaching perfection, it becomes a stiff challenge for us to recognize when we have erred, and be willing to humbly confess our errors and imperfections. Though extremely hurtful to the ego, it is nevertheless a requisite step to be taken if we are to spiritually benefit and grow.

Most importantly, serving God is preparing ourselves to see the face of our Master, Jesus Christ (Lk 12:40). We tend to slack in the pursuit of perfection when accountability is not demanded. Knowing that we shall be called to account for our service to Him will make us give the highest priority to preparing ourselves according to His will (cf. Lk 12:46–48). Accountability in service impels us to right ourselves from wrongs and do all things for God and God alone.


To strive towards perfection is a lifelong endeavor encompassing every conceivable facet of our existence. Although perfection may appear to be a goal beyond human reach, it becomes attainable if we abide in Christ, rely on the power of the Spirit and earnestly cultivate ourselves.

We must make a conscientious effort to fear Him, knowing that He is our Savior. The wisdom to keep ourselves from falling into temptation comes from knowing His word and having a heart of reverence for Him.

God’s love for us is revealed in His word. Being able to understand His word thoroughly puts us in good stead to perfect ourselves in pleasing and loving Him in return. Unquestionably, pleasing Him by walking in His way will be challenging, especially when things do not go our way and may even seem to work against us. In such situations, absolute trust in God is imperative. Afflictions should not turn us away from God, but should instead guide us to examine ourselves and consequently to change our ways. If we have examined ourselves but still cannot at the moment understand why we are being afflicted, let us still count it all as joy for His grace is sufficient always.

It is important to remember that fearing and loving God are not options on a checklist to be picked; they are inseparable. Our hearts are right before God when we keep His commandments not only because we fear punishment, but because we love and respect Him deeply. Righting our hearts before God will also make our service to Him acceptable. This in turn prepares us for the coming of Christ, enabling us to confidently and joyfully give an account of our service to Him.

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Author: F.F. Chong