Are you a perfectionist? Do you feel like you have to be perfect all the time, or your never happy? The protestant preacher Martin Luther (1483-1546) started his life out at a young age in much the same way. As a young man he had the goal of living without sinning. He became a Catholic monk. At the monastery he worked all day and then prayed and studied at night. His idea was that if he could isolate himself in this way, it would keep him from sinning. At the end of his first year as a monk, he vowed to live as a monk forever and was part of a big ceremony. At the ceremony he put on a distinguished looking robe. He thought the robe would make him feel holy, but it didn’t. In an effort to feel holy he began to do radical things, which even most monks wouldn’t do. He fasted frequently. He put in extra work. Eventually, Martin came to the realization after reading Romans 1:17 “So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.” that no amount of work on his part to be sinless could ever make him justified in the eyes of God.
The truth is, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:23-24) You see, it is only through Jesus’ gift of redeeming us of our sins, that we can ever be made right with God.
Some of us take it to the opposite extreme as Luther. We think that because we can’t be perfect, we might as well do whatever we want with no care or concern for what is right and wrong. In this case, may we remember the words of Paul in Romans 6:1-4, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” So what is the answer for the Christian who struggles with being a perfectionist? Do your best to always obey God, but never forget that it is only through Jesus that we are made right with God.