Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
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by George C. Clark, Sr.
“Be perfect, just as your Father who is in heaven is perfect.”
“Jesus told him, ‘If you want to be perfect, go your way, sell your possessions, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and then come, follow me.’”
No sooner do we speak of perfection than we are compelled to extol the life of Christ who, as Peter declared, “committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth” (1Pet. 2:22). But what about us followers of Christ? Are we not to be perfect, too, and without sin and guile? It is true that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). And John wrote, “If we say that we do not have sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1Jn. 1:8). So, no one can deny that he has sinned. However, the question is not whether or not we have sinned. Rather, the question is, “Where are the sins we have committed?”
Paul spoke to that issue when he said, “The sins of some men are known beforehand, going on ahead to Judgment, but the sins of some men follow behind” (1Tim. 5:24). Now, may I ask you, my Reader, “Where are your sins?” You have them; so do I. But where are they? I hope that they have been confessed, repented of, and are gone on before you to be blotted out by the blood of Christ. If not, they are still following after you, and they will be there to condemn you in the Final Judgment.
Jesus knew only too well the truth of what he was saying when he prayed that his followers might be sanctified and made perfect (Jn. 17:17, 23). He knew that with his Spirit, his followers can be perfect with God. When one is in Christ, as Christ was in God, one is indeed perfect, with his sins gone on to the Judgment. How anyone can read the Bible and then believe that perfection only applied to Christ is beyond my comprehension. If holy living was restricted solely to our Lord, then he surely would never have said, “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfected shall be like his teacher” (Lk. 6:40).
The reality of living free of sin and being perfect in this life is difficult for many religious folk to believe. In fact, the very idea seems foolish to most people who have not received their own Pentecostal experience. Nevertheless, the word of God stands true. We read in the book of Hebrews (10:14–15) that “by one offering, he has perfected for all times those who are sanctified. The holy Spirit also bears witness to us.” Do you have this witness, my Reader, the witness which God sent from heaven in Acts 2?
It took time even for our Lord to reach perfection. “For although he was a Son, he learned obedience by the things that he suffered, and when he had been made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation for all who obey him” (Heb. 5:8–9). Yes, Jesus, the Source and Captain of our salvation, was made perfect through suffering (Heb. 2:10). It is consistently maintained throughout the New Testament books that perfection is achieved by suffering. Peter, for example, wrote these comforting words: “After you have suffered a little while, may the God of all grace, who called you into His eternal glory in Christ Jesus, perfect you, and support, strengthen, and establish you” (1Pet. 5:10). May God help the few on earth who are willing to surrender all to Christ, to suffer for his name’s sake and be made perfect.
The author of Hebrews exhorted believers to “press on to perfection” (Heb. 6:1). And Paul told the saints that Christ “gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edification of the body of Christ until we all attain to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the full stature of Christ, so that we no longer be children, tossed by waves and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, by the cunning of deceitful contrivances” (Eph. 4:11–14).
May God grant us all the grace to experience that holy life!
Dear Reader, my heart is thrilled tonight as I sit here writing this great revelation from God, or should I say this “mystery” of the Son of God, “by whom God has willed to make known among the Gentiles what is the richness of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory, whom we proclaim, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom so that we might present to God every man perfect in Christ Jesus” (Col. 1:26–28). Some, doubtless, will say that this message is a poor show of wisdom; nevertheless, as Paul said, “We speak wisdom among those who are perfect” (1Cor. 2:6). May God give us grace, my Reader, to embrace this marvelous truth, and to walk in it, perfect before God. Amen!