Sometimes Mormons quote the beginning of Moroni 10:32. “Yea, come unto Christ and be perfected in him.” They then say that Mormonism also teaches we become perfect in Christ. But is this saying the same thing Christians say when they claim to have perfection in Christ?
Here’s the entire passage. “Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and IF you shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind, and strength, THEN is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God” (emphasis added) (Moroni 10:32).
I have emphasized “if” and “then” because they hold the key to understanding the verse. “If – then” commonly denote a cause and effect relationship. If somebody does A, then B follows. But B doesn’t follow if A doesn’t happen. If I go to work, then I will get a paycheck. Therefore, if I don’t go to work, I won’t get a paycheck.
Note the A and B in the verses above. The A has two parts: 1) If you deny yourselves of all ungodliness and 2) if you love God with all your might, mind, and strength. The striking word in both is the word “all.” “All ungodliness” and “all your might, mind, and strength.” By repeating “all,” the verse emphasizes a totality – not just of effort – but of results. It doesn’t say try with all your might to deny ungodliness. It says, “deny yourselves of all ungodliness.”
It’s only then that the “then” happens. “THEN is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.”
It will be worth your while taking the time to explain this to them. Most won’t know how to respond. You can then follow it with a wonderful statement about biblical perfection – how there are no “ifs” and “thens” connected to it.