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Being Perfect

Perfect Blameless, without sin, complete, image of God, holy

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 “till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph 4:13)

When scripture talks of someone being perfect, it typically is talking of being complete or finished.  The Greek for ‘perfect’ in Ephesians 4:13 and most similar New Testament writing is ‘teleios’.  The definitions typically read: ‘1) brought to its end, finished, 2) wanting nothing necessary to completeness.’


Ephesians 4:13 helps us understand more clearly what completeness is.  Through Hebrew parallelism we can understand that a complete man is one who is complete to the full stature or maturity of Christ.  This is a pretty tall order.  Is there any hope?


Being “perfect” or complete is not talking of something that cannot be further improved.  Because a believer is complete does not mean improvements cannot be made.  When we continue to put our mind to the things of the spirit we will improve our understanding of the mind of God.  How to best apply love can be challenging in some circumstances.  As parents we don’t always know what the best way to teach our children is.  Even so, by pondering our actions and comparing against the instruction of scripture, we can learn to better represent the Creator.  Our focus is no longer our own preservation and comfort, but the promotion of the ways of God.  Perfection, in the sense that things cannot be further improved, is not a concept taught in scripture. 


On the other hand completeness does assume a very high standard.  We are complete when Christ is living His life in us.  He did not conduct Himself contrary to the Law of the Creator.  He did not sin.


"He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him." (John 14:21)


True appreciation for our Savior is evidenced in our obedience to His instruction.  This is not occasional obedience, but consistent obedience.  We understand certain basics and seek to reflect Messiah.  In whatever we do, we conduct ourselves in accord with His instruction and example.  Some details may still be fuzzy.  Because we are complete, doesn’t mean we do everything exactly as Messiah would do it or we perfectly understand everything.  However, we keep ourselves from offense (I John 5:18) and evaluate continually our conduct toward better understanding the will of the Creator.  We grow in the graciousness and understanding of the Messiah (II Pet 3:18).  It is possible we might still sin, but as a rule we do not (1 John 2:1, 3:6)


 “He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.” (I John 2:6)


For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.” (Rom 8:5)


And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” (Gal 5:24)


Scripture does not treat conduct similar to that of Messiah as unattainable or exceptional.  It expects us to follow in His steps.  It expects us to forego the short term allure of the physical for the understanding and service of the Creator.


This is what Paul is encouraging in Philippians 3:9-16.  Paul did not relax or become complacent and consider that he was complete.  He continued pursuing the high calling of God for which Messiah chose him in the first place.  There is always more to learn.  Paul expected “as many as be perfect (complete, teleios)” to have that approach (vs. 15). 


We can attain to the yardstick of the maturity and fullness of Christ.  Walking on water is not necessary.  Having His spirit, His mindset, working in our mind is.  The Creator is greatly desiring to support us (Luke 12:32).  We must continually do our part. 

In contrast to the conduct of Messiah, consider Lucifer.  Lucifer was holy and complete until his pride tarnished him.  He became corrupted.  One can lose qualities of completeness.

You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you; You were on the holy mountain of God; You walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones.  You were perfect (complete, whole, entire, sound) in your ways from the day you were created, Till iniquity was found in you.  16 By the abundance of your trading You became filled with violence within, And you sinned; Therefore I cast you as a profane thing Out of the mountain of God; And I destroyed you, O covering cherub, From the midst of the fiery stones.” (Eze 28:14-16)

Lucifer was anointed, set apart to the service of the Father.  He was cast out when iniquity, sin and corruption were found in him.  Sin separates from the Creator (Isa 59:2).  It is repugnant to Him.

Consider that the whole purpose of creation is summarized in Genesis 1:26.  “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness”.  What is important about the Creator?  Is it how He looks or how He thinks? 


If fulfilling His Law is our focus we walk in His ways and we seek to understand how He thinks.  We represent Him on earth.  He is alive in us.  Our spirit is one with His spirit, making a complete man.  Not that we do everything exactly the way He would do things, but that is our goal.  We will still need to ponder His instruction to better understand how to implement the details. The concept of English ‘perfection’, that something cannot be further improved is not taught in scripture.