Acts 17:11 Archives

Perfection & Christ

An email in response to a comment that "realism" is more important than "perfection", and that the idea that we should "be perfect" is an incorrect one.

When I think such thoughts concerning myself, I figure I am capitulating. I can rationalize and be as "realistic" in the flesh as the next guy, but let's not blame our excuse making on God or pretend He endorses it.

Mt 5:48 (NIV) [Jesus] "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."

This is only a very concise statement of what is said all through Scripture, Old and New Testaments. Often the idea that we should be perfect is labeled "perfection doctrine" (as if having a name for it makes it wrong) and denigrated as aberrant. But it was Jesus, as you can see, who started this. There is never a case made in the Bible for capitulation or indulgence of sin--much as we would like to imagine.

God is perfect, and perfection can not tolerate imperfection. If the imperfect comes close, it will be incinerated and snuffed out. This is what the book of Hebrews is about.

And we, purportedly, wish to be with God. God is "Holy" or "Other"--He is NOT like us--compromised and riddled with sin. He is pure. And His purity, His Holiness, is offensive: it kills all not of itself, all that is "unclean"

Heb 12:14 (NIV) ...without holiness no-one will see the Lord.

How then, can this be achieved? It cannot by any human measure or imagination. And this is the whole point. If God does not give us perfection and holiness, we are truly doomed.

Ps 127:1 (NAS) Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it.

So, the answer is not to lower the standard like the Pharisee praying about how decent he was compared to worse men. (Luke 18:10-14) Instead we should, like the publican, beat our breasts and fall on our faces saying: "If you do not save me, I have no other hope!" For it is this second prayer that is our only hope to be made right before God.

I am confident you know this, and are rather speaking to the conditions we see all around us and acknowledged in Scripture, that we do, in fact, sin.

1Jo 1:8 (NIV) If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.

And so on. Again, this is only a nice summary verse of what is said throughout.

I see this as a sort of "schizophrenia"--if you will allow me--due to the two natures battling it out in a struggle architected by God.

Before God had invaded my body, I had no such struggle. I either did what I wanted or I did not. But now, "Christ lives in me." He has desires, passions, thoughts and deeds that course through me from time to time. (Gal 2:20) This is not the old "I" but an ongoing miracle of grace producing the fruit of the Spirit. Yet that is not ALL that is within me. I am still Dean VanDruff--jerk of some note. And from time to time this is all too clear to those around me, and myself. So I am, like all believers, a schizophrenic--if you will. I have two natures.

My new nature, that of Christ, was imputed--like an egg in a host body--and is growing. The other is fading fast (especially my hairline) and will eventually have worms running through it, if our Lord does not return before that time. My new nature is not really mine, it comes from God. My old, carnal nature is temporal and under judgment, and even though it pokes out from time to time I am to "reckon it dead" so as to access the resurrection life of Messiah in and through me.

More to the point, when I am in the Spirit my tolerance for sin is very low. I hate it. Well, so does God. But when I am in the flesh I rather like sin, and this is the problem. I must carry this "body of death" (Rom 7:24) around with me for now.

In this vacillating state, I cannot see how God puts up with me or anyone else another moment when I have a taste of holiness. But God is love. And He appears to think it worth the pain to endure our fickleness and outright rebellion yet another day so that He can rescue a few more.

So in this God is "realistic" as you say. Like a Father who looks at a pooping, vomiting child but knows "My nature and heredity are in this one. He will grow up to be like me..."

Now, if you have a child who is 20 and still wearing diapers and groping for breasts, then there is a problem. And dare I say it, but this appears to me to be the state of the current church. (Eph 4:14, 1Co 3:1, Heb 5:12)

Instead of growing up, we make excuses, capitulate on God's word, and cling to childhood.

My point here is that as we mature in the faith, we should see more of Christ and less of ourselves. Let us boast, as Paul did, of "perfection" in Christ as well as boast of our "weaknesses".

Luke 6:40 (NIV) A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.

Let us encourage each other all the more--not to acquiesce by lowering the standard, but to have our righteousness "exceed that of the Pharisees". (Mat 5:20)

1 Thes 5:11 (NIV) Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

Rom 6:11-14 (NIV) In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore DO NOT let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. DO NOT offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.

Rom 12:1-2 (NIV) Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship. DO NOT conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.

And yet, let us be honest, are we not experts at scrambling off of the alter? Even at excusing this in others? In this, we fail at being "believers"--we do not believe God will resurrect us into New Life. So we chicken out and excuse others who are doing the same.

While God is patient with this, He does not approve or suggest in any way this is OK. He is wanting us to truly follow Him. He went first, after all.

So let us stop encouraging one another to go half-way, or forming doctrines of half-measures, and let us truly follow the Gospel plan. Death by gruesome execution first, then new life. This is the pattern of God. This is the Gospel of Grace. There is no other.

Heb 3:12-13 (NAS) Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called "Today," so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

Rom 2:4-6 (NAS) Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to each person according to his deeds.

2Co 5:11 (NAS) Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men...

1Ti 6:11 (NAS) But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.

Mt 5:48 (GLT) Therefore, you be perfect even as your Father in Heaven is perfect.

Php 3:12 (NKJ) Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.

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