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Can You Be Perfect in this Lifetime?
Within religious circles, there often is a word that pops up when sin is addressed in a certain individual’s life. Someone will say to the other that they need to be 'perfect' before God. There is much truth to this statement, but many misunderstand what Biblical perfection means. The common defence to the one calling for perfection is that we are all sinners and we will continue to sin till Christ returns. They will say, 'Do you not also sin?' or, 'Are you claiming to be perfect?' Many will concede that they are not perfect and no one will ever be perfect because they believe that in this lifetime it is impossible to attain perfection.
Is there any truth to this?
This article will attempt to explore the definition of the term 'perfect' according to Scriptural rather than the eisegesis of appealing to popular religious opinions. The fact is to even bring up the word perfection will immediately bring contention because many have been conditioned to believe in religious double-minded definitions according to their particular denominational name brand.
What your idea of perfection is for the body of Christ may be completely different than the standard of Scripture that teaches and admonishes all believers to be 'perfect.'
The idea of perfection is an offensive word within the man-driven church system. In fact, the odds are that it is not spoken of anywhere within her walls unless someone confronts them on their sin and admonishes them to be 'perfect.'
Here are a few Scripture references with 'perfect' as follows.
You therefore must be PERFECT, as your heavenly Father is PERFECT. – Matthew 5:48
Finally, brethren, farewell. Be PERFECT, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you. – 2 Corinthians 13:11
For the PERFECTING of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a PERFECT MAN, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ – Ephesians 4:12-13
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. – Philippians 3:15
Contention with Perfection
It may come as a shock to some, but we can attain perfection in this life as both Christ and Paul attested. They were speaking in the present tense. From here, it is important to come to the understanding of what they were talking about when it comes to being perfect.
And to the ASSEMBLY OF THE FIRSTBORN who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made PERFECT – Hebrews 12:23
This verse is speaking to the ekklesia, the living stones who are called out ones of Christ. They are born again (firstborn) believers having spirits that are being made perfect. They are a witness of spiritual perfection and do not believe that no one can be perfect.
However, nowhere in Scripture does it say that we cannot make any mistakes in order to be perfect. What is most important is to be able to make is the delineation between someone who has made a mistake and someone who is practicing a habitual lifestyle of sin.
When we make a mistake, we should immediately repent and turn from our sin. In contrast, there are those who practice sin. They are still abiding in their 'old man' and have not been been quickened by the Spirit of Christ. They are carnal products of continual willful disobedience that brings forth no fruit of repentance.
No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for GOD’S SEED ABIDES IN HIM, and HE CANNOT KEEP ON SINNING because he has been born of God. – 1 John 3:9
If we make a mistake (sin) and repent, then we can regain our righteous standing before God. Many buy into the notion that they can continually make the same mistakes over and over again, but this only reveals that the 'seed of God' does not abide within them. They fail to understand that when they continually and habitually sin over and over again, even if they supposedly repent or change their mind about their sin, it means nothing to God because the 'old man' is still fully active and in full force in their lives. The fruit of repentance is nowhere to be found.
You are to have put off, concerning the former way of life, the OLD MAN, which is being corrupted according to its desires of deceit - Ephesians 4:22
The practicing religious sinner loves to play the counterfeit grace card and will comfortably say, 'I sin every day, and I will even sin tomorrow.' They believe in the lie that the grace of God is a license to sin because their indoctrination has led them to believe that God forgives their past, present and future sins. This is clear evidence that the seed of God is not present within them. They resort to the tactics of finding loopholes to justify their habitual sinful behaviours. Repentance is not in their vocabulary because they believe they are already forgiven for the future sins they will commit. The only problem is that this notion is nowhere to be found in Scripture.
I will behave myself wisely in a PERFECT way. O when wilt thou come unto me? I will walk within my house with a PERFECT HEART. – Psalm 101:2
In Scripture, both the heart and spirit are synonymous with each other.
And said, Remember now, O LORD, I beseech thee, how I have walked before thee IN TRUTH and with a PERFECT HEART, and have done that which is good in thy sight. – Isaiah 38:3
Our Father in heaven is a perfect Spirit. We too must be of His perfect spirit through Christ in order to enter into the Kingdom of God.
If there were no possibility of a follower of Christ to obtain spiritual perfection, then why would Christ tell us to do so?
Christ was a man just like you and I and we can follow his example. We cannot believe whatever we are told about perfection by some hireling upon a pulpit, but diligently seek out for ourselves the clarity of words of Christ and the apostles found in the word of God. This is the only way with the help of the Holy Spirit to be able to discern what the perfecting nature of God is for ourselves.
For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the PERFECT comes, the partial will pass away. – 1 Corinthians 13:9
Physical vs. Spiritual
The Biblical meaning and context for the term 'perfection' is established from the mouths of multiple witnesses (Hebrews 12:23; Psalm 101:2; Isaiah 38:3) as attested in Scripture. Perfection is not something that is physical in nature, but spiritual. Those who are deemed as the ekklesia of Christ have a perfect spirit or heart. This is not derived from man’s natural spirit because it is not perfect.
And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but TAUGHT BY THE SPIRIT, interpreting SPIRITUAL TRUTHS to those who are spiritual. The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are SPIRITUALLY DISCERNED. – 1 Corinthians 2:13-14
The carnal spirit of man cannot understand the things of God. It is only by the indwelling of His Spirit that we can comprehend and implement them. Entering into the Kingdom of God means that a man’s spirit is being perfected by the infilling of the Holy Spirit.
It is the Spirit who gives life; THE FLESH IS NO HELP at all. – John 6:63
Playing church under the old ceremonial laws cannot make us perfect, but Christ is our mediator who brought a new covenant so that we may come into perfection through him.
And to the spirits of the righteous made PERFECT, and to Jesus, the mediator of a NEW COVENANT - Hebrews 12:23-24
Growth and Maturity
The Spirit that is unity with the Father and the Son is the only thing that can make the human spirit perfect. It comes by accepting Christ as your Saviour who is the only mediator between God and man. It is a process of maturing (growing) in the principles of the Kingdom of God and being obedient to His ways.
Not that I have already obtained this or am already PERFECT, BUT I PRESS ON to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. – Philippians 3:2
Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to MATURITY – Hebrews 6:1
Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to GROW UP in every way into him who is the head, into Christ – Ephesians 4:15
Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may GROW UP into salvation - 1 Peter 2:2
And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be PERFECT and COMPLETE, lacking in nothing. – James 1:4
The process of being perfected is the sole reliance upon the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth. Growth and maturity takes time. It is about walking in the perfection and unity of Spirit being perfected in the gifts. Those who ask, seek and knock will receive good and perfect gifts that only come from Him. You cannot buy these gifts, be certified on paper or make merchandise off of them like the local institutional church does.
Perfection is the process of the spirit of God working within. It is the will of God perfected in our hearts. Man’s spirit is carnal, but the natural spirit can become cleansed and perfected through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The quickening transforms man’s spirit into a new born again spirit that responds in obedience to the will of God. The old spirit that was once dead and unlearned becomes alive through Christ who is a life giving spirit who is one with his Father. Learning from the Spirit of God should become a growing trend that moves us on towards perfection.
No one is born fully-grown; therefore, all believers must go through the maturation and development process to adulthood by taking on the attributes of the Father as our love, faith and works grow in harmony and unity of Spirit.
And Jesus GREW in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man. - Luke 2:52
Those who have been perfected in spirit will flow with God’s love (agape). Those who do not have the Holy Spirit will not have love perfected within them.
And above all these PUT ON LOVE, which BINDS everything together in PERFECT harmony. – Colossians 3:14
The outworking of love is an action of good works without carnal motives. The binding is the completion of one’s character through the Spirit by walking in love in harmony with the Father and the Son.
And let steadfastness have its full effect, THAT YOU MAY BE PERFECT AND COMPLETE, lacking in nothing. – James 1:4
Walking in the Spirit by faith perfects love where we become perfect and complete. Perfect love is the bi-product of spiritual growth and maturity in Christ.
But whoever KEEPS HIS WORD, in him truly the LOVE OF GOD IS PERFECTED. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. – 1 John 2:5-6
There are many who continually practice sin in their lives and claim to have the love of God within them. Their version of love has no standard because it is defined in the leaven of tolerance and compromise rather than truth. That is why many who claim to be believers are in the states of confusion, fear and double-mindedness. It should be obvious that these attributes are not a product of abiding in or being obedient to the way of Christ. Perfect love rejoices in truth (1 Corinthians 13:6). Love is the fulfillment of the law through Christ. It is the bond of perfection that enables us to see clearly the things of God and His Kingdom. Perfect love is having the same love that God has. It will flow through us in a greater way as we are perfected in Him and freed from the carnal love that many religious people exude today. The blinders will come off and the hidden agendas will be exposed because of our love for truth.
Faith and Works
It takes a faith perfected by the Spirit of God to believe in something that we cannot see by walking out His promises. Many confess they believe, but the Spirit has not perfected their belief.
You believe that God is one; you do well. EVEN THE DEMONS BELIEVE—and shudder! – James 2:19
Perfect faith is not only believing there is a God, but an initiative where there is an action of obedience that follows the path of truth. Many believe there is a God, but they do not believe in God. Many believe Christ, but they don’t believe in Christ. Their confession is no better than the belief of demons. Belief with no action will bring no power or change in anyone's life. Love, faith and works will be imperfect until there is an intervention of the Holy Spirit.
We must take the measure of faith that we are given and move forward into perfection until we reach the full measure of faith (great faith).
Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and BY WORKS WAS FAITH MADE PERFECT? – James 2:22
There are many who decide to do great things for God. They start their own ministries and churches claiming to be doing great works for God. Unfortunately, they have completely missed the mark.
Perfect works are done through the spirit of what God is telling us to do, not what we think we are doing for God. It is not about something that we have decided to do, but about what He does in us. Perfect works flow from a perfect spirit glorifying the Father through the Son. It is not a glorification of man’s religious works and ministries done in their own names because their agendas are not in harmony with the standard of Scripture.
Christ said he did not do his own works, but the works of his Father. If we follow his example and his leading, our works will also be perfected . That is why love, faith and works must be synergistic all working together to form the perfect spirit in man through Christ.
Put simply, the flow of spiritual perfection is as follows. The Holy Spirit perfects the human spirit. From a perfected human spirit will flow perfect love. From perfected love, perfect works will flow. The product of perfected works is perfect faith.
There are other factors such obedience and sound doctrine. This is how our growth (spiritual maturity) leads to the perfection of our spirits.
Walking the narrow way is not the path of least resistance. Often, it takes patience and perseverance to move forward in the things of God. Many concede to the state of imperfection as an excuse to remain in their carnal ways. They would rather submit to the authority of salaried religious men instead of trusting solely on Christ to lead and guide them in the Spirit to all truth.
Only the Holy Spirit can guide us to perfection of our spirits. We must seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.
Perfection will only come through a repentant heart and believing in the Gospel. It leads to growing in the character of righteousness and holiness as we are being prepared by the Holy Spirit for our eternal destiny.
Do you believe you can be perfected in this lifetime?
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