STRIVE FOR PERFECTION

Matthew 5:48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

When you start talking about perfection, people immediately become very uncomfortable. None of us are perfect, as in flawless. We all make mistakes, we all do and say things we are sorry for. So what is the perfection our LORD is referring to in the above verse? We see the translation for perfect is: complete, of full age. How do we come to completion? How do we arrive at full age, or maturity? We grow up in Christ. We die to our flesh, our carnal thinking and reasoning, and learn to live totally under the guidance of the Spirit of God. That is why Christ gave His life for us. He paid the price for mankind to have the opportunity to become fully reconciled to the Father. When we think of perfection as an unattainable goal, we are rejecting the truth of what Jesus' sacrifice bought and paid for.

Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed, by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. We know all too well how to conform to this world. We know precisely how to be accepted and fit in with those around us. What we have to learn is how to allow the Holy Spirit to change us into the new creature in Christ we are called to become. This is accomplished by the renewing of our mind. It takes a major renovation to change the way we think, our perspective of all things. But the resultant change is that we will learn to test, discern, examine and try all things that come to us. We will know by the Spirit what is good as in beneficial, what is acceptable and well pleasing to God. We will know by the Spirit what pleases God and what displeases God. Only the Spirit can accomplish these things in the life of the believer. To be fully transformed will mean we have fully died to our flesh, and now live by the power of the Spirit.

Today there seems to be an almost casual acceptance of all of our shortcomings. A general attitude, if you will, that we will never be perfect till after we die and get to heaven. Well, we certainly will never become Christ-like if that is the way we think. The faith many exhibit is one of defeated acceptance, rather than a desire to walk in the fullness. Can you personally relate to what Paul said? For my determined purpose is that I may know Him, that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly, and that I may in that same way come to know the power out flowing from His resurrection, which it exerts over believers, and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed in spirit into His likeness, even to His death, in the hope that if possible I may attain to the spiritual and moral resurrection that lifts me out from among the dead, even while in the body. Philippians 3:10-12. Paul concedes that he is not there yet, but does he then just lay down and accept that he will always be imperfect?

No! (vs. 13-15) I do not consider, brethren, that I have captured and made it my own yet; but one thing I do, it is my one aspiration: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press toward the goal to win the supreme and heavenly prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upward. This beautifully states what the vision and goal of each and every believer should be. So let those of us who are spiritually mature and full-grown have this mind and hold these convictions; and if in any respect you have a different attitude of mind, God will make that clear to you also.

Either we are growing up in Christ, or we are stagnating. Either we believe every Word that Jesus spoke, or we reject His Words. Either we are daily dying to our flesh, or we are finding ways to justify its survival. There is no middle of the road in following Christ. There is no comfortable fence we can sit ourselves upon to watch and see how things will work out. Either we are striving for perfection, growing up in Christ, or we are settling for the status quo of man, and falling short of the requirements of God.

How do we accomplish this? James 1:4 Let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be people perfectly and fully developed, with no defects, lacking in nothing.

Matthew 5:6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled. We have to desire to know God with our whole heart. We have to believe, we have to obey, and we have to grow in the reverential fear of the Lord.

How ironic is it that we fear everything but the Lord? We fear the devil, and give him credit for every unpleasant thing in our lives. He is not omnipotent, God Is. What we fail to comprehend is that he is already defeated. If we would grow up in Christ, if we would live by the power of the spirit instead of the power of our flesh, we would walk in victory, resisting would no longer be an insurmountable obstacle. 1 John 4:17 Herein is our love made perfect (complete), that we may have boldness (frankness, bluntness, assurance) in the day of judgment (justice, divine law): because as he is, so are we in this world. Jesus overcame, and by the power of Christ in us, we too, can overcome. We fear what others think. We are more concerned with pleasing others, with gaining their approval and admiration, than we are concerned with pleasing God. We need to understand that pleasing God, being obedient to the things He shows you, will not endear you to others.

The heart of man without God has not changed down through the centuries. People today are just as adept at rejecting the True Word of the Lord as they ever were. Isaiah 30:10 Which say to the seers, See not, and to the prophets, Prophecy not to us right things (truth), Speak unto us smooth things (flattery), prophecy deceits (delusions).

The Word of the Lord is not always going to be flattering. The prophets of old were not welcomed with open arms. The true prophet of God will speak truth, and will be just as rejected and ridiculed by the people today as the prophets of old were. Isaiah 5:21 Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! If we are not walking in the fear of the Lord, just how wise are we? Prov. 9:10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding. Ps. 111:10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: His praise endureth forever.

Prov. 1:7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

It is not a random accident that we have been called and chosen, that we were born into this world in the latter days. Yes, we face great obstacles, yes there is great unbelief, and rampant evil in these days. But we can be more than conquerors, if we will strive for perfection. Not the perfection of the world, or the fluctuating standards of man's ideal, but the completeness found in Christ. Paul ends his letter to the Church at Corinth with this summary, "Examine your own selves, whether ye be in the faith... For we are glad, when we are weak, and ye are strong: and this also we wish, even your perfection." This perfection is to be thoroughly equipped!

May our prayer be....Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be the glory for ever and ever.... and may we zealously strive for perfection.

Amen

Cathy Morris

07/19/04

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