What does the Bible teach about perfection?
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says:
Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
This establishes God’s standard for his people — to be perfect. Because we are credited with Jesus’ righteousness through faith, all true believers are perfect right now.
What does Mormonism teach about perfection?
Mormonism teaches that it is impossible to be perfect in this life.
Because the LDS church also teaches that God wouldn’t give a command people couldn’t keep, they often interpret Jesus’ teaching to mean “become perfect.” In Mormonism, perfection is achieved “eventually” by striving to do all one can do.
If we persevere, then somewhere in eternity our refinement will be finished and complete.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, "Be Ye Therefore Perfect—Eventually" (Ensign, October 2017)
Salvation does not come all at once; we are commanded to be perfect even as our Father in heaven is perfect. It will take us ages to accomplish this end, for there will be greater progress beyond the grave, and it will be there that the faithful will overcome all things, and receive all things, even the fulness of the Father’s glory. I believe the Lord meant just what he said: that we should be perfect, as our Father in heaven is perfect. That will not come all at once, but line upon line, and precept upon precept, example upon example, and even then not as long as we live in this mortal life, for we will have to go even beyond the grave before we reach that perfection and shall be like God.But here we lay the foundation.
Bruce R. McConkie, Doctrines of Salvation (Emphasis added)
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Why this Matters
God does expect us to be perfect. But we can’t. But he was. And he credits that perfection to believers through faith. This is the only way perfection is possible.
God isn’t waiting for humans to work their way towards perfection and make themselves righteous. Instead, God covers believers with Jesus’ righteousness. He drapes them completely with it so that all he sees when he looks at them is Jesus’ perfection. He sees them as perfect right now and worthy to live with him for all eternity.
When one is covered with Christ’s perfection, the Lord looks at them like a bridegroom looks at his bride walking down the aisle. This is how pleasing, how attractive, Jesus’ righteousness makes believers — right now!
When you trust that Jesus has already done everything for you — that he not only paid the price for your sins but also kept all the commandments for you — you can be confident, cheerful, and at peace. Then you can dedicate yourself to thanking God for his great gifts.
Believers in Jesus are perfect right now because we are credited with Jesus’ righteousness through faith. Jesus is enough.
Mormons must strive to become perfect. Knowing perfection is impossible, Mormons strive to “do all we can do.”