The scriptures tell us to be perfect. How can I do that?

What was the Savior asking of us when He said, “Be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect”? (3 Nephi 12:48).

In the scriptures, perfect means “complete, whole, and fully developed; totally righteous. … True followers of Christ may become perfect through his grace and atonement.”1

Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has taught that perfection in this life “can be achieved as we try to perform every duty [and] keep every law. … If we do the best we can, the Lord will bless us according to our deeds and the desires of our hearts.”2

Now, the Savior did not say that being perfect means never making mistakes. He also did not say that making a mistake means that perfection is out of reach. We can repent.

According to President Lorenzo Snow (1814–1901), the key to perfection in this life is to “be better today than you were yesterday. … Continue to be a little better day by day.”3


  •   1.

    Guide to the Scriptures, “Perfect,”

  •   2.

    Russell M. Nelson, “Perfection Pending,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 86.

  •   3.

    Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Lorenzo Snow (2012), 103.

  • I have a friend who believes that there is a scientific explanation for everything—spiritual feelings, answers to prayer, miracles, and so on. What can I tell this friend?

    boy with microscope

    Photo illustration by Lloyd Eldredge; graphic by iStock/Thinkstock

    In one sense, your friend is right—all things probably have explanations that can be given in scientific terms (though we don’t have all of these yet). The ability of science to explain something does no harm to religion. Even if you accept scientific explanations of a spiritual experience or a miracle, science merely describes the event; science says nothing about its underlying truth, meaning, or purpose. That’s the role of religion. Our Father in Heaven knows all things and reveals to us what we need in order to return to Him and to develop faith, hope, charity, and all other divine attributes. Just as religious interpretations of natural phenomena do not destroy science, the reverse is also true—scientific explanations of religious experiences do not destroy religion.