Philippians 3:12-14 (NKJV)
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. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Is perfection even possible? Paul said, “not that I have already attained or am already perfected”, so is there a subtle implication in his words that by pressing toward the mark and laying hold of Christ our life will somehow become perfect? What is perfection anyway? Perfection is defined as the highest degree of proficiency, skill or excellence. It is the “perfect” example of something. The word “perfect” means conforming absolutely to the description of definition. Excellent and complete. Exactly fitting. Entirely without any flaws, defects or shortcomings. I am human being filled with everything that makes me just the opposite of perfect so what’s the point? How can I ever be perfected when every fiber of my being and character are contrary to it? Perfect comes from the Latin word “perfectio” which means a finishing. Over time, we have defined perfect but the root of it all is finishing. This means that perfection is not how we start but found in our finishing. Our growth and development that leads to completion is the very thing that perfects us. If we can change our perspective on perfection, perhaps people will stop compromising and accepting substitutions and choose to be perfect.
Forgetting those things which are behind me can be such a challenge. Seldom do I dwell on my past successes, but rather all the times I gave up, fell short or thoroughly messed up. The enemy gladly shoves the memories of all my faults and failures into my face inviting me to question God’s Perfect Grace. To be perfect as God has promised and desires us to be requires reaching forward to those things given by faith and confident hope. These are the impossibles made possible for those who believe. Do you believe? This is the foundational question that must be answered to attain a perfected life.
James 1:4-8 (NKJV)
But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
Perfection is finishing. It is not how we begin, but those who endure until the end of this process of growth and development in Christ. The Lord wants to make us perfect and complete, lacking nothing. It will require wisdom which when we take what we know and apply it to our life. Otherwise, it is misplaced zeal. Hosea warns that His People perish from a lack of knowledge. Ignorant Christianity will never get us into Heaven. It is the heart and mind bent on perfection willing to do whatever it takes to make it to the end that will be saved. Faith is a life without fear and doubt producing full confidence and contentment in God and His Ways beginning with Jesus who is the Only Way to the Father. No one comes to the Father but by me. Do not be deceived for a double-minded man (or woman) is unstable in all of their ways.
Matthew 5:48 (NKJV) Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.
Jesus said that we would be perfect. We would be finished. Made complete. Whole lacking nothing. Yet, in all things I am imperfect. The first thing I must do is accept that fact that I am nothing apart from Christ and can do nothing outside of our relationship that is worthwhile or beneficial for my future. There are a couple of things required to achieve perfection.
Genesis 6:5-9 (NKJV)
Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. So the Lord said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. This is the genealogy of Noah. Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God.
Grace releases God’s Power of Perfection in our life. Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. But as we read further, it says that he was a just man, perfect in “his generations” and that he walked with God. Everyone requires the Grace of God. No one is exempt. It is the daily overflow of God’s Grace that allows us to move deeper in righteousness and closer to the Lord. Noah found favor with God not because he was perfect but because he desired a relationship with God the Father and worked to maintain it. His Works did not define that process but God’s Grace given to Noah. Noah and his family would be the only generation to survive the total demolish of the earth. Would our pursuit of God save our family from destruction? Does my life exemplify the grace and goodness that I have been delivered?
Psalm 18:30-32 (NKJV)
As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him. For who is God, except the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God? It is God who arms me with strength, and makes my way perfect.
God is perfect in all of His Ways. He will not change any of His Ways or that makes Him indecisive and changeable which invalidates His Perfection. He got it right the first time. Man mistakes God’s Grace for a change of heart. God is not emotional. He is Sovereign. He loved us and chose us from the very beginning. He established the Way for us before we were born into sin. He knew us and loves us because He created us. You don’t have to believe the Word of God to make it any more valid or true. The Truth stands alone. In an ever-changing world with compromised morals, mixed feelings, gray areas and convoluted ideas of grace, we must take God’s Word as the whole and absolute truth making it the foundation of our thoughts and filling our hearts with its knowledge to be wise when it comes to Christ. Perfection is impossible outside of the Lord.
God is My Strength and Power. Do you agree today? Think about it before you answer because the next mind-blowing revelation might rock you as it did me. To truly believe that God is perfect requires two things – weakness and surrender. You will never give God everything when your life is perfect. It is in the devastating revelation that you are weak and helpless that surrender is accomplished. It is in THAT moment when perfection becomes possible in our life.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (NKJV)
And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My Strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Weakness acquires His Strength. We cannot become strong in the Lord until we discover our own human weakness. We want to do what is right but cannot. We desire perfection but fall short. It is right here in this place of giving up and giving in that His Perfecting Power is manifested in our life.
Ephesians 2:8-10 (NKJV)
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
God’s Power requires full surrender of our life to God’s Plan and accepting His Grace. Grace is the key to perfection. We must accept God’s Strength and Power in order to allow our heart and mind to change according to His Will and Way. We can do nothing apart from the free gift of God. We must learn to walk in His Way.
Psalm 19:7-11 (NKJV)
The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them Your servant is warned, and in keeping them there is great reward.
The truth behind grace is the absolute solidity of God’s Word as true. Do you believe God’s Word? It must be the unadulterated truth of our life to move past the opening stages of the gift of grace to the perfecting qualities of faith in God. We must grow, develop and mature in our relationship with Jesus Christ in the dispensation of His Grace to become who God created us to be. Life does not get easier, just more purposeful. It does not turn down the heat of fiery trials just keeps us safe and gives them meaning. It is the conversion of our heart and soul in becoming a living sacrifice that allows us to be transformed and perfected according to His Word. (Romans 12:1-2) It does not change the past but our future.
Matthew 19:20-22 (NKJV)
The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
In this parable, the dilemma faced in the pursuit of perfection is revealed. Heartbreakingly true, it happens every day. The young man was raised in religion and performed quite well. But when Jesus reached inside his heart to expose his weakness, the young man could not let it go. He could not become weak for the Lord giving up the security and comfort of his wealth. He could not give Jesus his weakness which was his love of position and power. So he took his perfect worldly life and went his way rather than answering the call of Jesus to follow me. What is keeping you from perfection today? I know with vivid clarity the areas keeping me. The things I choose to build my own strength rather allowing the Lord to be my strength. The areas of weakness I hide from the risk of exposure that would allow Him to make me strong. God invites me to have perfection. I was created to be perfect but chose iniquity. (Ezekiel 28:15) If I make a commitment to perfection (Psalm 101:2), He promises to perfect all concerns me. (Psalm 138:8) He will keep me in perfect peace if I set my mind on Him. (Isaiah 26:2-4) God has given us so many promises as a result of the perfection that He gives us by His Grace. (I Corinthians 7:1) If only we would consider the opportunities of grace rather the opposition of our flesh to following His Way, what would happen? We might just be perfected.
Ephesians 4:12-16 (NKJV)
For the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.
To be perfect is the fulfillment of God’s Grace in our life. To take the gift we have been given, open it and apply it to our life. This is a direct result of one’s decision to accept our weakness and desire His Strength, while we surrender our life to accept His Power of Transformation and the conversion of our soul from death to life. Christ was perfected in the third day. Not on the Cross but in His Resurrection from the tomb. This is how God’s Power works in us. The same power that brought Jesus out of the grave is the same power in us that allows us to be perfected in Christ. (Luke 13:32; Hebrews 5:8-9) We have a purpose that grace accomplishes. His Strength and Power allows us to be finished, made complete and lacking nothing. God is not finished with you yet…He is just beginning. In giving our life to Him, walking His Way and choosing to take Him at His Word, we are promised to be perfect! His Love makes us perfect!
Colossians 3:14 (NKJV) But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.