Seeking Perfection

Possibly one of the most complex philosophies in the world is the concept of acceptability to the God that Created us. It is amazing to examine the options of others as we attempt to personally seek God’s approval. The desire to please God is bound up in our understanding of God and that which he reveals to us via the Bible (i.e. the Written Word of God).

THE BIBLE IS TRUTH: The concept that the Bible is absolute truth and free of error is the basis of our view that man is required to ba as perfected personally as h/she is capable of being. This idea is not universally accepted by religious people but is acceptable to those of us that make up the Lord’s church. (i.e. Matthew 26:18; Rom 16:16; Acts 2:1-47). The Bible is specific about the responsibility of man to serve (i.e. do the works of God), as he learns those things that is required of him by God. Indeed, has been a great deal of effort put forth by God for the salvation of mankind but many will never be saved from their sin because they misunderstand the concept revealed via the Written Word. You see, the Written Word  – (i.e. that section of the Bible that applies to mankind now – The New Testament) is God’s instruction to mankind in this dispensation as sure as the Law of Moses was the law that governed ancient Israel in the method of becoming and staying acceptable to God. It is true that the laws are different one from the other but the same God is the author of both laws. Since we can no longer be saved from sin by keeping the Law of Moses –

Galatians 5:1-4, “1 For freedom did Christ set us free: stand fast therefore, and be not entangled again in a yoke of bondage. 2 Behold, I Paul say unto you, that, if ye receive circumcision, Christ will profit you nothing. 3 Yea, I testify again to every man that receives circumcision, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. 4 Ye are severed from Christ, ye would be justified by the law; ye are fallen away from grace.” (ASV)

Since the New Testament is the only true source for doctrinal teaching under the “Christian Dispensation,” it is imperative that we seek to live according to its teachings. The truth is God’s salvation unto salvation from sin – Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” (ASV)  The “TRUTH” is actually God’s written word to us today – John 17:17, “Sanctify them in the truth: thy word is truth.” (ASV), and it is capable of making us free from sin – John 8:32, “and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (ASV)

CAN WE BE PERFECT NOW?  Perfection is that for which each Christian ought to strive. Yet, to acquire perfection in this world one must cease from sin completely. The Bible tells us that all sin – cf. Romans 3:23, “for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God;” (ASV)  In Christ’s sojourn here in the world one of the facts that he revealed to man is, whenever man does all that he can do for himself with regard to pleasing God he still has fallen short of perfection – cf. Luke 17:10, “Even so ye also, when ye shall have done all the things that are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants; we have done that which it was our duty to do.” (ASV)

GOD GRACE MAKES US ACCEPTABL TO GOD:  General definition of grace: Now, grace is that which God has and does for man that he is unable to do for himself. Man cannot, of himself achieve sinless perfection but man can do all that he is capable of doing to acquire perfection. Since man cannot become perfect by his own activity it is necessary that God help him. God has given to every person – unmerited favor (God will accept the person even though they cannot achieve perfection if that person is habitually obedient to His Will – cf. Hebrews 5:8-9, “8 though he was a Son, yet learned obedience by the things which he suffered; 9 and having been made perfect, he became unto all them that obey him the author of eternal salvation;” (ASV) Titus 2:11-12, “11 For the grace of God hath appeared, bringing salvation to all men, 12 instructing us, to the intent that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly and righteously and godly in this present world;” (ASV)

Comment on Titus 2:11-12:  In this context, we see that grace is available to everyone (cf. verse 11) but in order to appropriate that grace in a person’s life one must obey. Note the 12th verse:

God’s grace is applied to the person that:

1.  Denies ungodliness

2.  Denies worldly lusts

3.  Lives soberly – treats himself right

4.  Lives righteously – treats others right

5.  Lives godly – treats God right

 FOLLOWING GOD’S INSTRUCTION (i.e. is obedience):  Many religious people affirm that one cannot work their way to salvation. Indeed, it is not possible for anyone to do enough good works to merit salvation from sin. Yet, there are works of God that man is required to do in order to attain salvation from sin, this is not of human merit but complying with the instructions that God establishes for salvation.

CONSIDER THIS:  In the process of ancient Israel’s conquest of Canaan, one example of the Lord’s grace is fittingly demonstrated in the case of the taking of the city of Jericho:

cf. Joshua 6:2-20, “2 And Jehovah said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thy hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valor. 3 And ye shall compass the city, all the men of war, going about the city once. Thus shalt thou do six days. 4 And seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark: and the seventh day ye shall compass the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. 5 And it shall be, that, when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall go up every man straight before him. 6 And Joshua the son of Nun called the priests, and said unto them, Take up the ark of the covenant, and let seven priests bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of Jehovah. 7 And they said unto the people, Pass on, and compass the city, and let the armed men pass on before the ark of Jehovah. 8 And it was so, that, when Joshua had spoken unto the people, the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams’ horns before Jehovah passed on, and blew the trumpets: and the ark of the covenant of Jehovah followed them. 9 And the armed men went before the priests that blew the trumpets, and the rearward went after the ark, (the priests) blowing the trumpets as they went. 10 And Joshua commanded the people, saying, Ye shall not shout, nor let your voice be heard, neither shall any word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I bid you shout; then shall ye shout. 11 So he caused the ark of Jehovah to compass the city, going about it once: and they came into the camp, and lodged in the camp.  12 And Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of Jehovah. 13 And the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of Jehovah went on continually, and blew the trumpets: and the armed men went before them; and the rearward came after the ark of Jehovah, (the priests) blowing the trumpets as they went. 14 And the second day they compassed the city once, and returned into the camp: so they did six days. 15 And it came to pass on the seventh day, that they rose early at the dawning of the day, and compassed the city after the same manner seven times: only on the day they compassed the city seven times. 16 And it came to pass at the seventh time, when the priests blew the trumpets, Joshua said unto the people, Shout; for Jehovah hath given you the city. 17 And the city shall be devoted, even it and all that is therein, to Jehovah: only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all that are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent. 18 But as for you, only keep yourselves from the devoted thing, lest when ye have devoted it, ye take of the devoted thing; so would ye make the camp of Israel accursed, and trouble it. 19 But all the silver, and gold, and vessels of brass and iron, are holy unto Jehovah: they shall come into the treasury of Jehovah. 20 So the people shouted, and (the priests) blew the trumpets; and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, that the people shouted with a great shout, and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city”  (ASV)

CONSIDER THIS:  In v. 2 Jehovah speaks to Joshua in the past tense and says, “I have given into thy hand Jericho …” In v. 16 Joshua speaks to the people in the past tense and says, “for Jehovah hath given unto the city” Before the people had done anything, God said I have given you the city to the Israelites as a gift but the gift was a conditional gift. The fact that God stipulated conditions to receive the gift (i.e. the city of Jericho) does not change the facts at all – the gift of God in this instance was Jericho.  In v. 20 the text says, “…and they took the city… The taking of the city was dependant upon their having obeyed the instructions that God had set for the prize.

PERFECTION IS CONDITIONAL:  The only way for anyone to be perfect in their relationship with God is to become a child of God correctly and live a righteous, acceptable lifestyle for all their life here on earth – cf. Paul’s example – cf.

2 Timothy 4:6-8, “6 For I am already being offered, and the time of my departure is come. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith: 8 henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give to me at that day; and not to me only, but also to all them that have loved his appearing.” (ASV)

Revelation 2:10, “Fear not the things which thou art about to suffer: behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days. Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee the crown of life.” (ASV)

For God’s grace to applied in our life, we must follow whatever God instructs us to do throughout all of our life. Yes, it can be done! God has never given to mankind laws and instructions that he could not obey. But has been gracious toward man and his honest efforts to follow those instructions. God’s grace is evident in the life of many Old Testament characters – (e.g. Hebrews 11) and many New testament characters {e.g. Peter, Paul, Apollos, Cornelius, etc.} God does not expect the impossible from man but God does expect man to do the best he is capable of doing – cf. Acts 2:40, “And with many other words he testified, and exhorted them, saying, Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” (ASV)

Philippians 2:12-14, “12 So then, my beloved, even as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who worketh in you both to will and to work, for his good pleasure. 14 Do all things without murmurings and questionings:” (ASV)

STUDY TO BE SURE:  One of the sure ways to work toward perfection is to study God’s Written Word and rightly divide it – cf. 2 Timothy 2:15, “Give diligence to present thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, handling aright the word of truth.” ASV

A LACK OF KNOWLEDGE DESTROYS:  It is stated by the prophet Hosea at Hosea 4:6, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shall be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I also will forget thy children.” ASV  Always be ready to learn – be willing to better your knowledge.

A CHANGE – REPENTANCE IS NEEDED:  One of the tragedies if this generation is that many of its numbers have little or no respect for the life and work of those that have diligently worked in the past. One of the ways to gauge the value of a person’s education and intellect is to observe the way that they treat their family, their elders, how men treat women, how parents teat their children, how children (i.e. including adult children) treat their parents and grandparents, etc. It is a sad commentary on the direction of society in general to observe the attitudes of many people toward family, fellow laborers, neighbors, etc. in many cases adults show by their actions, conversations, dress, and companions that they have no manners, and/or no upbringing.

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