I believe there is a need to understand Scriptural perfection as it relates to our position in Christ. Many have taught a sinless-perfection doctrine that negates personal accountability for sin. Others teach a perfection that only comes with final glorification at our death. Still others relegate perfection to an indication of a level of maturity. Today’s text shows perfection as a Presently Possible Placement of Power.
Jesus Christ said, “The disciple is not above his master.” There may or may not be the indication that some would think themselves above Christ. The certain thing is that they are not. As a disciple, one is always in a position lower than their master, as the lower learns from the greater. A disciple ceases to be a disciple when he becomes the master.
Likewise, the world responds to the disciple as he is an ambassadorial deputy of his Master. Jesus said, “Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also” (John 15:20). Clearly then there is reason to expect that the servant/disciple will be treated as his Master would be; he “shall be as his master.” According to our text verse, our equal treatment with Christ requires our perfection.
Part I. Possibility of Perfection
It is possible that we may be perfect. This fact is indicated by the text verse itself as Jesus states, “every one that is perfect.” Note that He is not saying: those that will be, or are going to be, but “every one that is” perfect. Clearly, Jesus did not intend that the disciples should think perfection to be a far-off concept. It “is” immediately within their grasp.
The nature of this perfection is also stated: Jesus tells us the “perfect shall be as” Him. This is a most-wonderful prospect – to “be as” Jesus Himself! Of course, some would say this is the strict provision of a yet future hope. But why then would Jesus tell His disciples that “every one that is perfect shall be as” He is? “As” here gives the meaning of being in the capacity or character of a thing; it points to an association and the answer to Jesus’ prayer: “I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.” (John 17:23)
We see that Jesus relates perfection with Oneness, and that with Himself. The disciple that is perfect is only so as he is One with the Lord. That this is a very real possibility is borne out by the fact that Jesus prays for such “that the world may know” of His person and love for those that are perfected. Perfection then is a witness, a sign, to the unbelievers of God’s love for His people.
Secondly, the Possibility of Perfection is implied by the context of our text verse. Luke 6:39 deals with the issue of leadership, “Can the blind lead the blind?” The principle is that one must lead the other, but that the leader must be in a better condition in order to lead. Verses 41-43 enjoin one to “cast out first the beam” in his own eye, “and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother’s eye.” The principle here is that a person should evaluate themselves first, before they try to lead another.
Both of these principles give the context of our text as the personal growth of the individual as a possibility which should be sought. Furthermore, the reason for this growth is shown to be the individual’s ability to be “as his master” in capacity and character. Perfection is therefore a possibility for the disciple.