This is the second part of the series Are You Perfect? We continue yesterday’s thoughts on the Possibility of Perfection – with the Presence of Perfection. Yet a still more compelling argument for the Possibility of Perfection is the present nature, or Presence, of Perfection.Most will agree that Jesus’ words in our text verse point to a perfecting of the saints. They will look to the chain of grace found in Romans 8:29-30 and say this conforming “to the image of his Son” will only come with a final glorification at death. But let’s see what else Jesus has to say about our perfection.
“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48)
Contextually, Jesus has just given His disciples a lesson in equality. His disciples are told to love even those that oppose their love (verse 44). He then tells them the principle that God shows His goodness to the just and unjust alike (verse 45). After a further word of reproof to the hypocrites who are only kind when it proves advantageous, Jesus gives us several points for the proof of perfection as a present reality.
Matthew 5:48 begins with the word “Be.” In the words of men, “be” expresses a command to direct the hearer toward being whatever is commanded. In the Word of God, “be” expresses a command which carries the Power of God to empower the hearer toward being whatever is commanded. The distinction is that God speaks power to perform His command. Jesus says, “Be …perfect…”
Jesus further tells us the standard of Perfection, which shows that it is present fact, “even as your Father which is in heaven.” “As” God is, so we are commanded and empowered to “be.” There are no qualifications on this statement that would place it as an ideal or a suggestion. God “is perfect” and we are given the power to be perfect as a present command.
Hebrews 13:20-21 tells us:
“Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, (21) Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
So the perfection of the saints is, first of all, a command based on the power given to keep the command. Secondly, it is a present work of God within the born-again to do “that which is wellpleasing in his sight.” We see this present nature of perfection as the saint lives a life that is pleasing to God, not in eternity, but right now, in this life.
Another aspect of a present perfection shows us that it is essential:
(Philippians 3:13-15) “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, (14) I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (15) Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.”
In order to live a victorious life in Christ, the individual that is perfect must strive to win “the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Paul says that he does not become satisfied with his perfection (present) but presses forward, ever seeking a closer walk, a deeper relationship, a more abundant life in Christ. This goal is only obtainable if perfection is present.
Perfection is essential to living an abundant life, as well as understanding the Gospel Message (1 Corinthians 2:6). The natural, unregenerate mind cannot perceive Spiritual Truth (1 Corinthians 2:14). We see that perfection is indicated by the ability to understand Scripture as more than concepts or ideas, but as Truth. This gives us the knowledge that perfection is a matter of the Spirit of God enabling us to know Him through His Word (1 Corinthians 2:10-12).
It is also true that perfection has a relationship to spiritual maturity. However, rather than represent maturity (as many believe and teach), maturity is a sign of perfection. In other words, perfection is not the same as maturity, but maturity does indicate such (James 3:2) as perfection leads to maturity.