“… being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ…” (Philippians 1:6)
One thing that should be clear from reading the New Testament is that there is no instant perfection. Rather, we strive, struggle and toil in this world to grow in faith and love. ‘Perfection’ will only be had in that day when Christ becomes all in all and this world as we know it is transfigured into God’s Kingdom. In life, we are to expect struggle and to strive for spiritual growth, becoming more Christ-like with each test and struggle.
“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every joint with which it is supplied, when each part is working properly, makes bodily growth and upbuilds itself in love.” (Ephesians 4:15-16)
St Gregory Palamas reminds us that it is the striving to control our own passions which is the best sign of our discipleship. Better to control our own passions and desires than to perform miracles.
“It is much more profitable to us to strive to banish the passions of fornication, anger, hatred and pride than to cast out demons. Being delivered from bodily sins is not enough, we must also cleanse the inner energy which dwells in our soul. For out of our hearts ‘proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness’ (Mark 7: 21) and so on –these are what motivate people.” (THE HOMILIES, p 91)
The work we have before us as Christ’s disciples is not just to avoid sin, but to transfigure our hearts. We are to make every thought that we entertain in our minds to serve our Lord Jesus Christ.
“… for the weapons of our warfare are not worldly but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every proud obstacle to the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.” (2 Corinthians 10:4-6)