"Be Ye Therefore Perfect..."
In our world today and especially within Christendom the terms “perfect” and “perfection” spark great controversy and arguments in the religious world. Now the bible, that contains the word of God, is the authority and guide within Christianity and so we must consult its pages to consider and see what it has to say regarding the terms “perfect” or “perfection”. The teaching or doctrine of perfection or one being perfect is taught by Christ himself as seen in scripture. “Be ye therefore perfect even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” Matthew 5:48.
We are told in scripture that God the creator made man and all his creation (man) upright but they sort out many inventions Ecclesiastes 7: 29. Also Lucifer we are told was perfect in all his ways till iniquity was found in him Ezekiel 28:12-17. Noteworthy is the fact that verse 15 shows that Lucifer the covering Cherub, an Angel created by God, was created perfect and was perfect in all his ways till iniquity which is sin was found in him. So the problem in the world today is that God’s creation transgressed or sinned against him. What is Sin according to the bible? “Whosever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” 1 John 3:4. Jesus Christ, we are told, came to save fallen man/humanity away from their sins. “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shall call his name JE’SUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21. We are further told that Christ was manifested to take away our sins 1 John 3:5. So as can be seen from the scriptures Christ’s purpose for coming to earth was to save man from sin, thus addressing the problem of mankind in the world, Sin.
There are those in our wold today in and out of Christendom who scoff at and completely reject the teaching or doctrine of perfection or one being made perfect. When told that yes we can be perfect and that in your abiding experience in the faith of Jesus Christ you are indeed perfect, you are met with rejection and citing of phrases such as, “Jesus is the only perfect man that ever walked this earth” and, “We cannot be perfect in this body, in this life’’ is another of the many reasons given why some claim that to be perfect or perfection is not possible. Question- just what does the bible, the word of God, teach as it relates to one being perfect or experiencing perfection? Let us explore the scriptures and hear what God himself has to say on this very important matter.
YHWH-God, the almighty, in calling Abraham appeared to him and told him to walk before him (God) and be perfect Genesis 17:1. Was God asking Abraham to become god with God or become Divine? No! For God is God alone. Isaiah 44:6&8, Isaiah 45:21, 22, Psalm 86:10. Was YHWH God, the almighty asking Abraham to be perfect in his flesh or body? Again the answer is NO. Brother Paul shows that it is not until at the coming of Christ and the resurrection that our bodies will be changed 1 Corinthians 15: 51-54. So clearly we are not called by God to Divinity perfection, which is to become god for that is impossible. Neither are we called to bodily perfection in this life as our flesh would not change until Christ comes.
Again Jesus said to his disciples, his followers ; “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.’’ Matthew 5:48. Let us now consider the word perfect as used in scripture to understand what is meant by Christ’s statement to be perfect and as he told Abraham to walk before him and be perfect. There are a number of Greek words that are translated perfect and synonyms of perfect in the English, here are a few examples. 1. Artios- (1 Timothy 3:17) Complete, sufficient, and completely qualified…one in which all the parts are complete or whole and what they are supposed to be, so that they might serve their destined purpose. 2. Katartizo- The fundamental meaning is to put a thing in its appropriate condition…to establish, to mend… To refit, repair, mend that which is broken… Metaphorically, of a person in error, to restore, set right (2 Corinthians 13:11). 3. Téleios-finished…wanting in nothing. Figuratively, in a moral sense, of persons. When used in a moral sense referring to God’s expectation of us, it means completely blameless (Matthew 5:48)” Akeraios- Without any mixture of deceit, without any defiling material (Philippians 2:15). Note that ‘Akeraios’ here is a synonym for “Téleios”. 4. Aptaistos (synonym of Téleios)- Not stumbling, without sin. 5. Amemptos (synonym of Téleios)- Without fault, Blameless. The Complete Word Study Dictionary, New Testament, Spiros Zodhiates Th.D, pages-259, 842, 1372, 111, 244, 132
From these examples of Spiros Zodhiates Th.D. we see clearly that the use of the word perfect or even perfection is used in the context of being made free from sin. So what was Jesus saying when he said “Be ye therefore perfect even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”? He is actually calling his followers to an experience that is free from sin or as we say, sinfree perfection.
For man to experience sinfreeness he must repent and believe the gospel of Jesus Christ as shown in Mark 1:14 &15. Then Paul tells us in Romans 1:16 that the gospel is the power of God into salvation to everyone who believes it. Why is the gospel the power of God into salvation? Answer- because in the gospel, the righteousness of God is revealed to the believer. Romans 1:17. Now it is important to note and know that the God of all grace who calls men to him makes you the man or woman perfect 1 Peter 5:10. The grace of God brings salvation and teaches man how to live in this present world. “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared unto all men; Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, and righteously, and godly in this present world.” Titus 2: 11 & 12. You see dear reader the bible presents to us the righteousness of God which comes by the faith of Jesus Christ into all and upon all them that believe Romans 3:22. This righteousness is God himself who comes to dwell in the mind of the man who now experiences sinfree perfection or being made free from sin. Jeremiah 23:5 & 6, Ezekiel 36:25-27, Romans 8:33.
We are made free from sin by the truths of Jesus Christ John 8: 34, 36 - 32. Paul in the sixth chapter of his epistle to the Romans beautifully outlines the experience of one made free from sin. Careful study of this chapter reveals that God forbids that man continues to sin and it also reveals the change that takes place when you are made free from sin and become servants of righteousness. Romans 6: 1-2, 6-7, 12-15, 17, 18, 22. Furthermore we see this transformative change of Justification explained by Paul again in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, which shows the past experience of sin and the new experience of sinfreeness. This, dear reader is perfection in Christ. With this new experience we are encouraged to walk in the light. This is because the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin if we confess our sins, since he (God) is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:5-7, 9.
All scripture we are told is given by inspiration of God and are profitable for: 1 .Doctrine. 2. Reproof. 3. Correction and, 4. Instruction in righteousness. Why? It is so that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works 2 Timothy 3:16 & 17. We are told that the different gifts given to the church through its ministers; Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers are for the perfecting of the saints: Till we all come in the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the son of God unto a perfect man. Ephesians 4: 11-13. This shows that the knowledge of Christ in one’s heart/mind makes him or her perfect. We are also told that the Law of the LORD-YHWH is perfect converting the soul. Psalm 19:7. Those who repent of their transgressions and believe or accept the gospel of Christ and have been justified do righteousness at all times and walk in the Law of the LORD- YHWH, seeking him with the whole heart, they do no iniquity. God makes man’s way perfect removing transgressions from us. Psalm 106:3 Psalm 119:1-3. 2 Samuel 22:33 and Psalm 103:12
Finally we are encouraged to put off the old conversation (behaviour), the old man which is corrupt according to deceitful lusts, putting away lying, Be angry and sin not, give no place to the devil, do not steal, letting no corrupt communication come from your mouth, and let all bitterness and wrath, anger, clamour and evil speaking with malice be put away from you and you must not grieve the holy Spirit that seals you if you maintain your justification in sanctification. Ephesians 4: 22, 25-31. This we can only do if we have the mind of Christ. Philippians 2:5, Ephesians 4:23-24. Notice that we are not called by God to become god, or to experience Divinity perfection, neither are we called to have our bodies changed now. What we do see from this study is that we are called to experience mind reform which is sinfree perfection or being made free from sin by being renewed in our minds Romans 12:2.
Jesus gave many examples when he forgive sins and healed people, telling them to go and sin no more John 8:11, John 5:14. Christ is coming back for a Church; his people who have been cleansed and are free from sin in their experience. In other words they are perfect and must be so for the second coming of Jesus Ephesians 5:26 & 27, Hebrews 9:28. Like Paul I wish for even your perfection and that you be perfect (made free from sin) and live in peace that God who is love may be with you 2 Corinthians 13: 9 & 11. In summary, God calling man to repent is his call to justify man making him perfect in his mind’s experience hence forth. Jesus is perfect and that is an undeniable truth. Can we be made perfect or sinfree today? Yes we can! Finally, finally my dear brethren, “These things write I unto you that you sin not, And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” 1 John 2:1. Amen.
Calvert K. Baptiste