Only perfect human beings are fit for the presence of the holy God, and only perfect human beings will come in to the realization of that hope which is laid up in heaven.
Hear the commandment of the Lord Jesus Christ to Israel and the instructions of the same Lord, by the pen of the Apostle Paul, to the saved Gentiles
“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your heavenly Father which is in heaven is perfect.” Matthew 5:48.
“That ye may stand perfect and complete in all of the will of God.” Colossians 4:12.
The perfect God will not lower His high and holy standard to the level of even the very best that the most respectable, moral, upright, charitable and benevolent man can do. By nature man is in a pitiful spiritual predicament. He is born with a disease that knows no human cure. This disease is universal, according to God’s pronouncement: “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” “there is none righteous: no not one.” God has a supernatural remedy for this disease and unless His remedy is appropriated and applied, every case will prove fatal, resulting in a death that is far worse than physical death. All who miss heaven will not miss the second death.
Most men and women are so absorbed in the temporal things that are seen that they spend but little time in serious meditation and consideration of their spiritual responsibility to the true and living God. God is the judge of all the earth and He solemnly declares that every one of us shall give an account of himself to God. He also declares in clear, unmistakable language that no unrighteous man shall enter the kingdom of God.
Here then we see our great problem: we are all unrighteous and no unrighteous man shall enter the kingdom of God. God is the great Physician. He has thoroughly diagnosed our case and given us a clear record of that diagnosis. But he has done much more. He has prescribed an absolute cure and, at the greatest possible cost to Himself, He has provided that remedy. So far as the charges are concerned, He has put the price within the reach of the poorest of the poor. Yes, with no human scheme, philosophy or remedy available, the Almighty God has proved that He is the God of all grace and He has revealed to sinful humanity His own Divine way of making an imperfect man perfect.
“There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the ends thereof are the ways of death.” Proverbs 14:12. There are many self-righteous, conceited, deceived human beings who are willing to be religious and even tell God that they are religious and quite decent: somewhat different from the average run of sinners. They present their self-righteousness to God as a substitute for His plan: “being ignorant of God’s righteousness and going about to establish their own righteousness they have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God which is by faith.”
God has given His well beloved Son to pay the penalty for sin. The wages of sin is death. In the shadow of the cross the Son of God said: “now is the judgment of this world”. John 12:31. By His death, propitiation for the sins of the whole world was provided. “Whosoever will,” is God’s most gracious invitation. It was by the grace of God that Jesus Christ tasted death for every man. The free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
God, in His Book, declares that He can be just and the justifier of every one who believes in Christ. While true justice knows no mercy, God can be both just and, merciful; because Christ the Just died for the unjust that He might bring us to God. Read it in God’s Book, and believe it with all your heart. It is good news. Romans 3:24 to 28. I Peter 3:18.
Now we are beginning to see how we can be perfect. Perfection must be the work of God and not of man. Man’s work was the law. Under that perfect work man was an absolute failure. “The law made nothing perfect; but the bringing in of a better hope did.” Hebrews 7:16. The “better hope” did. Did what? Made something perfect. Then surely we shall not be satisfied until we find that better hope. Think of such a better hope that can make an imperfect sinner perfect. Here’s the better hope
“By the which will we are sanctified by the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once-forall; and by one offering He hath PERFECTED forever them that are sanctified.” Hebrews 10:10 and 14.
Blessed good news! “He hath perfected forever.” “By the one offering!” Surely the Father was more than well pleased with that one offering of His Son on the cross. When we go by faith to that cross we find, everything we need to take away our guilt and to fix us up for God’s presence and blessing. “Perfected forever?” “Too good to believe”, you say? But it is no good unless you do believe.
Then God declares that He wants every man to be taught in all wisdom: “that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.” Colossians 1:28.
Then God wants every man to present himself, his body, as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God and to be transformed by the renewing of his mind that he may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Colossians 1:28, Romans 12:1 to 3. Then, by the pen of James, God adds: “By works was faith made perfect.” James 2:22.
And the noblest of all saints, the most obedient and faithful of all Christians said: “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect.” Philippians 3:12.
But before we are disturbed or discouraged by this statement we should read Philippians 3:15, and all of the context: “Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded.” Certainly there seems here to be a contradiction, for in one verse the great apostle seems to be striving for perfection, while in the other verse he already had perfection. Surely Paul was neither dissatisfied with his standing in Christ nor labouring for sinless perfection.
When we carefully and prayerfully study God’s Word, we see that there is a great difference between the believer’s perfect standing in Christ and the believer’s state of sinless perfection. In Christ the believer is without condemnation before God. In Christ he is made accepted. In Christ he is complete. No one can lay anything to the charge of God’s elect. No one or no thing can separate the believer from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus. The babe in Christ, like the most matured spiritual saint, has a perfect standing before God. It is because he is in Christ. The justified sinner stands in the presence of God as though he had never committed a sin. By one offering forever perfected. It is all of grace and all by grace.
Then, as to the believer’s state: his behaviour, his walk, his conduct, his service. Does he ever reach the state of sinless perfection? The believer is a new creature in Christ Jesus. His old man has been crucified; and he has received a new nature, a Divine nature. The new man is created in true holiness and righteousness after the image of Him who created him. Colossians 3:10, Ephesians 4:24, Romans 6:6. Here are three very interesting questions in the sixth chapter of Romans
“Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?” “Shall we sin because we are not under the law, but under grace?” “How shall we that are dead to sin live any longer therein?”
The answer to the first question is, “certainly not.” The answer to the third question requires much searching of the Scriptures.
When we have done our best we are only unprofitable servants and we never reach the spiritual state when we do not want to confess, “Lord we have done the things that we should not have done and we have left undone the things that we should have done.” We can fall short of perfection by leaving things undone just the same as we can by doing what we should not have done.
The believer is told how to walk, how to run the race, how to look, how to pray, how to yield, how to submit, how to resist, how to study the Word, how to be sober and vigilant, how to put on the whole armour of God, how to confess, how to serve, how to worship, how to witness, how to grow, how to obey, how to love, how to endure, how to suffer and how to rejoice.
We are reminded that Christ, the captain of our salvation, was made perfect through suffering. Hebrews 2:10. And by the pen of Peter we have these words: “The God of all grace, Who hath called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.” I Peter 5:10. And we are assured that the God of peace, Who raised Christ from the dead, can make us perfect in every good work. Hebrews 13:20 and 21.
The mighty power of God that raised Christ from the dead is to usward. Ephesians 1:18 to 22. God is able to make all grace abound toward us for every good work. II Corinthians 8:9. God is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we can ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.” Ephesians 3:20. “My God shall supply all of your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus, Philipians 4:19.
The true child of God knows that he has from God no license to sin; but he also knows that he does miss God’s high and holy mark; and he is always conscious of imperfections No believer ever reaches a state of sinless perfection on this earth, but he is presented in God’s Book with no lower standard to adopt. His heart’s desire is to measure up to the highest spiritual standard that is possible by the grace of God, knowing that perfect love casteth out all fear.
PERFECTION IN DOCTRINE
Then the Bible speaks several times of perfect doctrine, and, surely, every Christian should be established in this perfection, as far as it is possible in this dispensation. The Bible declares that “strong meat” belongeth to them that are of “full age”. Hebrews 5:14. “Full age” is the same Greek word translated “perfect”. “Strong meat belongeth to then that are perfect”; and the very next verse, Hebrews 6:1, says “let us go on to perfection”. Not perfection in conduct, but on with the revelation of truth, from the first principles given to Israel to the highest truth given from the risen Christ to the Apostle Paul.
Let us not forget that Christ chose Paul to bring to completion the Word of God with the Mystery. Colossians 1:24 to 27. Certainly on from the word spoken to Israel to the revelation of the Mystery, through Paul, is progressive revelation: “On to perfection”. This should convince any Christian of the folly of the slogan of the Modernist: “Back to Jesus”, or, “give me the program of Jesus”, or, the folly of red-lettering the words that Jesus spoke to Israel. Not “back to Jesus”; but “on with the risen Christ’s revelations to the Body of Christ.” All Scripture was given on the installment plan. There is progressive revelation from Genesis 1 to Revelation 22. Then and there it ceases.
Neither would we have such counterfeit Christian movements as the Pentecostalists, if we go on to perfection with Christ and Paul instead of “back to Pentecost”, with Peter and the Eleven. These Twelve were ministers of the circumcision with the gospel of the circumcision. Galatians 2:7 to 9.
Moreover, we must carry this progressive revelation and perfection of doctrine beyond the thirty years covered by the Book of Acts; for in I Corinthians 13:8 to 13, written a few years before Acts closed, we are specifically instructed in this very thing. Certain things, which are spoken of as childhood, or “that which is in part”, had their rightful place in the Church program before “Acts” closed, before Israel was set aside (Acts 28:25 to 28). But they were to be done away as the Church moved on to perfection. “Till we all come in the unity of the faith unto a perfect man”. “No more children, tossed to and fro”. Ephesians 4:13 and 14. “When I became a man I put away childish things”. I Corinthians 13:11. “When that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. I Corinthians 13:10.
The word “perfect”, translated “teileios”, from “teleo”, to accomplish, to end, to complete, to finish, to fill up. “Tello”to set out for a certain goal. “Teleo” is the word Christ cried out on the cross, “finished”.
“Pleroo” is also translated “complete”, “end”, “fulfill”, to “perfect”. This is the word used in Colossians 1:25, wherein Paul writes that Christ chose him to finish the Word of God. And, as Christ on the cross cried “Teleo”, after He said, “I must finish the work”, “I have finished the work”, so Paul said, “I must finish my course with joy.” Acts 20:24, and finally, “I have finished (teleo) my course.” II Timothy 4:7.
For your eternal redemption rest in simple trust in the finished work of Christ. Then by the grace of God give Him your very best.
For more articles by Pastor J. C. O'Hair, visit the J. C. O'Hair Online Library.