You Shall Be Perfect (Christian Perfection)

You Shall Be Perfect
Robert Wurtz II

But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5:44–48 NKJV)

Our passage is a powerful revelation that the basis upon which God expresses love for all people is His own nature–not the behavior of the recipient. Verse 44 clearly shows that God loves (expressively) people who curse Him, hate Him, and spitefully use Him. The Greek word translated “spitefully use” can be translated revile, or falsely accuse. These are the type of things that God tolerates and yet continues to express love by providing the necessary elements for human life. On this basic level of expressing love God does not discriminate between people who are friendly with Him and others who hate Him. He provides sun and rain on the just and the unjust. This “perfect love” is an active and verifiable concern for all people everywhere, regardless of their relationship to Him.



Jesus then adds, And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? The word for greet literally signifies “to draw to oneself;” hence, “to greet, salute, welcome,” as the ordinary meaning.(Vines) It could be translated embrace. In street language we would say that God is not snooty. He doesn’t look down a long nose with contempt for people that are beneath Him. He is compassionate and desires to reconcile with all people. 

Born of God


Jesus stated plainly, Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. This is a simple statement of fact. It is not necessarily a command. At the time it was a future reality. When the cross event was complete and the New Covenant instituted, people who believe, repent, and receive the Holy Spirit shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. If a person does not come into this “perfect love” then they are not born of God. This is the plain teaching of John in his first epistle. It sounds scathing to our sensitive ears, but he wrote plainly:


“If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?” (1 John 4:20 KJV)


On the contrary, if we are born of God we have the nature of God. We will imitate God and demonstrate that we are His children (v. 45) by our actions. We will display a family likeness to God by our behavior. This is more than dead religion, it is a transformation of the person from a child of the Devil to a child of God. In the beginning God said, “let us make man in our image and likeness.” This purpose has not changed; it is God’s design: to bring many sons unto glory and to perfect them in such a way that Jesus would not be ashamed to call them brethren. (Hebrews 2:10-11) Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. “The Greek work teleios (“perfect”) means “having attained the end/purpose.” Since human beings were made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26), they are “perfect” when they demonstrate in their lives those characteristics that reflect the nature of God.” (Robert H. Mounce, NIBC on Matthew 5:44-48) This is not done by trial and error; but by new birth.


Excuses and Imperfection


Our passage is one of a long list that labels standard fallen behaviors for what they are—characteristics of the wrong father. Jesus called the religious leaders “hypocrites” because he wanted them to know what they were. We have to come to reality and face it for what it is. He told the people that they were of their father the devil and the desires of their father they do. (John 8:44) This is the natural progression of life; things behave and exhibit characteristics after their own kind. 

Sometimes people will excuse their rude, unloving, uncompassionate behavior on their ethnicity (I’m Irish, I’m  German, Native American Indian, et al.), but this does not fly with God. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? Jesus used tax-collectors as a reference because they were in reputation for being the lowest of the low—traitors of the Jewish People. They took hard-earned money from the Jews, kept some back, and gave the rest to the Romans. (Luke 3:12-13) Many Jews (especially the Zealots) would rather kill one as look at them. Nevertheless, even a tax-collector knows how to love people they want to love; but what good is that? If that’s all we are doing we can rest assured that from God’s perspective we are no better than the “lowest of the low” in our culture and society. 

The solution is for the “Irish, German, Native American Indian, and every other ethnicity and cultural heritage on earth” to be born from above. In other words, no matter where on earth we are from we are born “of our father the Devil” and doing his hateful and uncompassionate deeds. That will not change in one trillion years until a person is born again of the Holy Spirit. God’s will is that we all may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. This is the prime litmus test. Is a person born again? How do they love? Like a tax-collector or like Jesus? If we are the real deal, Jesus words mark the answer: you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. It will be our nature. 


We Must Begin With Born Again

We Must Begin With Born Again
Robert Wurtz II

This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? Have you suffered so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? (Galatians 3:2–4 NKJV)

The book of Galatians is unique among Paul’s epistles as the only one written in his own handwriting. In his other epistles, he employed an amanuensis to do the writing — book ending the text with a greeting at the front and a closing salutation at the end. For Paul to take up the pen, and write himself, we know this signaled a very serious urgency. Teachers had come into the church preaching a different Gospel. 

Ministers generally preach their own experiences. If they struggle with sin, they preach that Christians struggle with sin. Few have the mind to let God be true in spite of their personal experience. This was likely the case at Galatia. The born again experience was not working in these ministers, so they were teaching and preaching the people back under the Old Covenant system of laws. They did not understand that “one cannot do with institutional law was can only be accomplished by a constitutional change of ones’ nature.” (R. Bailey) 

In our passage above, Paul appeals to the experience of the Galatians. He knew that these saints had been truly born again. They repented, believed and received the Holy Spirit. This is not salvation by logical deductions and proof texts as is often the case today; Paul knew they had truly believed and received. Regardless of what these new teachers were saying, the Galatians had an experience far beyond what they were being taught. 

Did You Receive?

Paul asked the Ephesians if they had received the Holy Spirit when they believed. Paul asked the Galatians if they received the Holy Spirit by the works of the Law or by the hearing if faith. In both cases, receiving the Holy Spirit is in view. Receiving the Holy Spirit is essential to new Covenant Christianity. How the Spirit is received is the question Paul asks the Galatians. This is important because they already received the Holy Spirit in the beginning; now they are being taught that they need to come under the law. Why? So they can continue to be filled with the Spirit? It could never happen. The two approaches to receiving the Spirit are incompatible. One is either in the flesh and under the Law, or they are in the Spirit and not under the Law. (Galatians 5:18) 

Having Begun In the Spirit

Coming under the Law cannot facilitate Spirit filled living. However, this may not have been the teaching at all. They could have been told that receiving the Holy Spirit gets things started, but afterward we come to perfection by keeping the Law of Moses (or some legalistic system). This is completely false. Nevertheless, it is often how Christians live and teach. I suggest it happens most often because the teacher has not received the Spirit in the genuine article and are struggling to live a life as outlined in the New Testament. Many doctrines have been invented to compensate for an inadequate Born Again experience. 



The late Leonard Ravenhill, author of Why Revival Tarries,  stated in his final interview in ca. 1988, “I guarantee that not five percent of people in America and England are genuinely born again of the Spirit. They are born again of a decision. They give up a few lousy habits some of them and some of them don’t. They go right back.” This is a sobering comment. He had lived long enough to see a transition in how people are brought along into Christ. Decisionism, as it is sometimes called, has left us with a multitude of people that have “believed on Christ” and show no fruit afterwards. 

Since roughly the time of D.L. Moody, the emphasis in preaching has been on getting sins forgiven. This has morphed into a humanistic “gospel” that leaves multitudes believing they are saved, but they have not truly repented, believed, or received the Holy Spirit. In other words, they have not been Born Again. Everything is done from proof texts and logical deductions. The dealing of the Holy Spirit is left out. The churches are loaded with these type people. Sins forgiven is essential, obviously; however, this is only a portion of the starting point. 

The End Before the Beginning

I wish to end this entry with a provoking thought that summarizes the whole of our subject: 

The old must end before the new can begin. 

Paul asked the Galatians, Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? Have you suffered so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? Because the Galatians had obviously been living many years before beginning in the Spirit, the implication is that the old life had to come to an abrupt end. Paul said it this way, I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless, I  live. Crucifixion implies death. I died, but nevertheless, I live. This is the effect of repenting, believing, and receiving the Holy Spirit. God baptized us into Jesus Christ so we can share in His death on the cross — bringing an end, to “I” or “me.” We cannot begin a life in the Spirit until our life in the flesh is ended. This is the force of Calvary — it brings an end to a person. 

Many people want to be a Christian, but they don’t want to be crucified (with Christ). They believe they can get on with something less than the death of them. They want reformation or a few changes here and there. They are even willing to go under a system of rules, so long as they don’t have to be crucified (with Christ). This is why Paul spoke to the Galatians of the things they suffered. He was concerned that they were about to undo all that God had done in their lives making the sufferings they went through in the beginning all in vain. 

Some of those people were so radically changed that they were not recognizable to friends and family. For Paul, his transformation resulted in the loss of everything. Some people have lost mothers and fathers, wives or husbands, or even children to the alienation experienced when others will not accept their having been changed. Paul reminded these people at Galatia of their ” beginning ” as if to say, “are these new teachers promoting an experience at that level? Or are they preaching something so inferior that you might as well have lost everything for nothing. Because what you’re doing right now — the substandard pretentious forgery of a Christian life — doesn’t have the power to offend anybody like that.” In other words, if you had begun the way you are trying to continue — you would not have lost any family or friends. 

God wants to bring an end to the old that He can make all things new. We have to be willing. We can’t be joined to the Spirit and the flesh at the same time. We cannot be married to both the Law and Christ. We have to die to the Law and the flesh, so we can be raised in Christ to live in the Spirit. These are light-years beyond the imposition of laws and rules. The Law was tailored for the man of the flesh. Nevertheless, when we truly begin in the Spirit, we walk in a changed constitutional nature that no man in the flesh following a Law could ever rise to. This is the reality of truly having begun the road to perfection in the Spirit. 




No Conscious Sin

No Conscious Sin
Robert Wurtz II


Press play for audio reading
https://archive.org/embed/NoConsciousSin 


I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust. This being so, I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men. (Acts 24:15–16 NKJV)

Our passage is a summary of Paul’s attitude towards the commandments of God and his understanding of the will of God. He states plainly,  I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men. This is a way of saying that he endeavored to keep his conscience clear. In other words, he strove to live without any conscious sin. Twenty four hours a day and 365 days a year, he worked to keep any sin from riding on his conscience. He wanted no controversies between him and God and he wanted nothing on his conscience about how he treated others. 


Christian Perfection and Finney-ism


You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:48 ESV)


This verse reminds me of a story a dear brother tells of a man rolling an ostrich egg into a chicken coup to encourage the hens. What is more unsettling is the late renowned Greek scholar A.T. Robertson’s commentary on the verse: “Perfect (teleioi). The word comes from telos, end, goal, limit. Here it is the goal set before us, the absolute standard of our Heavenly Father.” Sometimes the word is tranlated as “mature,” however, God never matured so this cannot be the translation contextually. That would be Mormonism. God is, was, and ever shall be perfect. We have another challenging verse: 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 4:13 KJV) Is that God saying that He is determined for us to come into a perfection like unto Jesus Christ? How can this be? 



As a student of Old Testament law (I speak as a fool), I took five semesters of the 613 Laws of the Old Testament. I discovered that the Rabbis had summarized the Torah into 365 negative (Don’ts) and 248 positive (Do’s) commandments, and each one had a little commentary. The 365 negative commands corresponded to one for every day of the year. A great number of these commandments are specific to Israel in the land and in service of the Old Covenant. Nevertheless, I realized very quickly that someone — someplace — could find a verse that anyone at any given time may be in conflict with. At that point, any hope of Christian perfection was for me a mere pipe dream.  



Obviously, my approach was all wrong. I even went as far as to start a list of New Testament commandments like unto how the Rabbis had synthesized the Torah. It was a hopeless cause. At one point I thought I would reach more commands than 613! I began to view the hope that any Christian could live in perfection or victory over sin with cynicism. Add to that certain views of salvation that left little or no security for the believer and I was confused and vexed. I vigorously fought against any notion of what is often termed as “Christian perfection.” What was wrong? I mistakenly tied the notion of perfection with assurance of salvation. That was a deadly trap. 


With my background in Old Testament law, and my quest to codify the New Testament, I was certain that nobody on earth, save the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, could attain such a standard of perfection as we read in Matthew 5:48 and Ephesians 4:13. I could straw-man the arguments with the best of them. Simply put, if God really demands perfection then I have no hope of salvation. To me, it was simple enough; nobody is perfect, therefore, Christian perfection is a false doctrine. Something had to give for me; it would either be a belief in perfection or the belief that our salvation is fragile (sometimes called Finney-ism). Nevertheless, God began to use people to challenge my approach. I had to first abandon the notion that our salvation was “on the line” at every second; and from there, God could show me His desire to perfect us into the image of Christ in grace and with the full assurance of salvation.


The Purpose of the Commandment


As a young Christian I came across this verse; Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith.” (1 Timothy 1:5 NKJV) I then reconsidered Matthew 5:48. the emphasis there is how God loves people indiscriminately and is no respecter of persons. He sends rain on just and the unjust alike. We are to be perfect in that same sense. We are to love others like God loves them. But how? Love from a pure heart and from a good conscience. I knew about love, so I began studying all kinds of verses about the conscience. I came to understand, even then, that God wanted us to walk before him with a clear conscience. Unfortunately, my studies in theology eventually muddied this simple concept. In fact, after about 10 years the notion was far from my mind. 


Then one day I was challenged by a couple brothers about “walking before the Lord with no conscious sin.” I needed to keep my conscience clear before God and man. Suddenly I remembered what I had been taught of God as a young Christian. It was as if for 10 years I had been on some kind of spiritual hiatus. I resumed walking in a pure conscience and my Christian life got back on track. 


What is the Conscience?

The conscience is that unaffiliated member of our being that God has placed within us to speak, as it were, on His behalf. It is a double or joint knowledge, namely, one of a divine law or rule, and the other of a man’s own actions. It measures our behavior and attitude against what we believe to be right and wrong, absolutely. It judges exactly as it sees without any prejudice. As designed it will judge against the laws of God written in the heart, but as men and women pour folly and falsehood into their belief system the conscience will work from that data. Whatever is sincerely held as truth will be the standard the conscience applies.



The conscience in its God given form is used by the Holy Spirit to convince us of sin, righteousness and judgment (John 8:9). Truth resonates in the conscience of even the most ungodly people. The conscience is the mechanism of moral judgment that men and women pass on the morality of his/her own actions. It also passes judgment on the purity of our motives. It is the secret testimony of the soul, whereby it approves things that are good, and condemns those that are evil without partiality. The will of God is the only rule that should immediately bind the conscience. No one has authority over the conscience but God. Man can sear their conscience, but they cannot make it call evil good and good evil; nor can they cause it to lie down when it has risen to pass judgment on our behavior and/or attitude.

The Guilty Conscience

The guilty conscience is one that believes the person has acted in disharmony with what the person believes is right and wrong. A guilty conscience is a primary obstacle to us coming to the throne of grace or to do His service (Hebrews 9:9). It shouts GUILTY, which tends to cause man to want to run or hide from God. This is what Adam and Eve had done when God came looking for them. In this way man cannot act contrary to what they believe is God’s will without suffering the pain of conscience. A guilty conscience can seize upon the person like a claw upon the mind. Many criminals have confessed under duress from their conscience.

The Purging of the Conscience

The blood of bulls and of goats could not take away sins- nor did that blood have the power to PURGE the conscience of its guilt when a person had sinned. People had a sense that they had done wrong and struggled to find relief. However, we read in Hebrews 9:14, How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God, and again, Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water (Hebrews 10:22).

The Evil Conscience

Of an evil conscience there are several kinds. When our conscience has lost its sense of right and wrong (to some degree or another) it could be called a polluted or defiled conscience. This comes about from false criteria with which the conscience judges. The mechanism may work, but the ‘laws’ written in the heart may have been non-biblical teachings that should have been ‘cast down’ as they exalted themselves against the knowledge of God. The conscience is ‘evil’ when it gives either none or a false testimony as to past or present actions.

When reflecting upon ones own sin and wickedness, if the conscience feels no pain, it is EVIL, and said to be seared or hardened (1 Timothy 4:2). This is caused by ones deliberate quenching of the Spirit of God as He would seek to bring correction to our life through the conscience. A ‘dull spot’ develops in the area that the conscience is continually quenched or seared. It is also EVIL when, during the commission of sin(s), it remains silent.

A Good Conscience

A good conscience is one that has been purged by the blood of Christ and is utilizing the laws of God written upon our hearts by God, as a reference point for its moral decisions. Everyone is born with certain ‘default’ laws upon our hearts in so much as to render every human being who ever lived as guilty before God for their sins (Romans 1:28). As we grow in the knowledge of God our conscience is trained with right information and becomes increasingly effective as a guide.

The Weak Conscience

A weak conscience is one in which there are residual rules and regulations of men that have nothing to do with God, but yet are present in the heart and are used by the conscience to make rulings for good or evil. This is seen in great detail in Romans 14. As it is written, accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand (NIV).


This is true in all sorts of disputable matters. The issue is, does the person have a pure biblical justification in their conscience for what they are doing? If so then they are acting in faith. If a person believes that what they are about to do is sin- it is sin unto them (Romans 14:23). Why, because they cannot do it in a pure conscience. They cannot act in faith and whatsoever is not of faith is sin. A person must walk in step with the conscience until they become full persuaded in their own heart that the behavior is not a sin.

Dealing With a Weak Conscience

This is not to say that God has a different set of rules for everyone because He does not. The issue has to do with our growth and having been built up in the knowledge of Christ (Ephesians 4:13). It takes time for God to erase things like ‘old wives fables’ and ‘legalistic laws’ and add HIS LAW in their place. There are also times when we may be vulnerable to certain sins and the Holy Spirit will CONVICT us to stay away from the things that make us fall. We must be sensitive to God and our conscience. One must not be advised to transgress the conscience, nor feel it is OK to do so. If a person thinks something they are about to do is a sin- they should not do it.

Traditions and the Conscience

We have certain traditions, as did the Pharisee’s, that make the word of God of no effect (Matthew 15:3). And that, because a lot of ‘taste not, touch not, and handle not,’ teachings exist that have cropped up in the last 200 years. As it is written, Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations — ” Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle, ” which all concern things, which perish with the using — according to the commandments and doctrines of men? These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh (Colossians 2:22,23 NKJV). Change comes when we prayerfully spend time in God’s Word seeking to know the truth of God. 


On Liberty and Freedom

For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another (Galatians 5:13).

It is possible for a Christian to do things in front of other Christians that they view as sin and cause them to stumble in the faith. This is very important. We read in Romans 14Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way. I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. Yet if your brother is grieved because of your food, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died (Romans 14:13-15).

So then the summation of these things is found in Romans 14:21-23It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak. Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin (NKJV).

This is where believers must be conscious of the conscience of others. It is the charitable thing to do. To dismiss a sincerely held conviction of other believers is to walk uncharitably and to risk sending the message that it is ‘OK’ to transgress the conscience. Until the person can be fully persuaded in their own mind as to what is right and what is wrong, we are to bear their infirmity.

Evidence of a Seared Conscience

The only thing worse than an overly-sensitive conscience is a seared conscience. When a person can compromise or sin and feel no pain of conscience (whether in whole or in a particular area), repentance is in order. Once repentance is secured God must send a healing to reestablish sensitivity to the conscience. To transgress the area again is to re-sear what God has healed. The great enemy of our conscience is the ever increasingly wicked world system that is dumbing down the conscience of society. God has placed the Church (true Christians) in society to be a light unto it’s conscience (if you will). When believers conform to this world they have a diminishing conscience. Soon they side with evil with no pain of conscience. They can subject themselves to the presence of evil with no problem. This is the great challenge of our times. We must reject this tendency, and maintain a good conscience, lest we be as some (who) having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck (1 Timothy 1:19)

Summary

The conscience has been called an internal smoke alarm; it goes off when we have done something wrong. The Christian life is to be lived out as Paul expressed it, striving to have a clear conscience towards God and men. When our conscience is clear, we have boldness towards God. However, continuing in sin will set off the conscience and unsettle us in a way that even others can sense that something is not right. If we live  by this rule, we will position ourselves to be conformed to the image of Christ. If we are careless or even sear our conscience, we will never attain to the Christian character that God intends for us.   

  



     

Longing For Perfection

Longing For Perfection
Robert Wurtz II


Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. (Hebrews 6:1, 2 NKJV)

The writer to the Hebrews is bringing to bear all of the previous points he has made in chapter five in order to call believers along with himself to perfection. As was the situation then, so also today, many Christians tend to live a substandard Christian life that does not allow them to understand deep spiritual truths. They were not applying what they had learned of the elementary things and as a result were unable to comprehend in a figure “strong food.” Some actually backslid to the point that they had to be taught again. 

Longing

Lurking underneath of this phenomenon is a missing attitude that should exist in every true believer; a longing for perfection. He is saying, in effect, ” Let us go on to the stage of adults, not babes, able to masticate (chew) solid spiritual food.” (Robertson) This is the sense of the Greek word for perfection. However, within this spiritual adulthood is a desire for perfection of expression of the Christian life; that is, the person of Jesus. True believers long to express fully all the characteristics of Christ’s godly personality. We should never be comfortable falling short. 

Obstacles to Perfection

If you listen to many modern sermons and songs, you will quickly realize that the emphasis has moved away from what the writer to the Hebrews is calling for. Both sermons and songs often suggest that we are “sinking into an ocean of God’s grace.” This would be true if we were pouring the right meaning into the word “grace.” Understand that grace is more than God’s favorable attitude towards us, it is His divine enabling. James says, “He gives more grace…” What for? To enable us to function as right representations of Christ under any circumstances. This is more than God having a woolly feeling about us. Nevertheless, the sense of many of the opiate sermons and songs is that God loves us and were drowning in grace, so we need not concern ourselves about our conduct. We are numbed to the reality that God is calling us to perfection. 

Evidence of Wrong Emphasis

It seems that as time goes on many God-fearing ministers are calling for God to send a revival into our land. The trouble is that the call is going into the ears of multitudes who have no inward sense of God calling us to perfection. So the call gets spun into all kinds of weird concepts. Whereas revival in the 19th century was clearly understood to be a move of God to bring people out of sin, and into a state where they could grow up into Christ, since the 1950s there have been so-called healing revivals, Charismatic gift revivals, laughing revivals, prosperity revivals, worship revivals, biker-boot revivals, and a host of other nonsensical things. Why? Because at some point along the path, professors of Christ lost their sense of Christian perfection, and now the emphasis is on everything from physical healing to spiritual gifts. It’s almost as if God is appearing in the east, and His people are facing the west. They are looking in the wrong place for the wrong things and He is not going to bless it. 

Regaining the Desire for “Perfect” 

The writer to Hebrews calls all of us, along with himself, when he states, let us go on to perfection. This is a call to grow-up beyond the elementary things such as repentance, faith, baptism in water and receiving the Spirit. He is not saying that we should leave off preaching these things, but that as individuals, we need to grow beyond them and into spiritual adulthood. Every child has to be born and grow up into maturity, but it would not be normative to have a person stuck in infancy or childhood. This is the writer’s point. Just as you grew up as a person… grow up as a Christian. Growing up means that we are then able to understand and walk in the deeper truths of the New Covenant. 

I must make a notation here and say that if the foundation of repentance, faith, baptism, laying on of hands, etc. is not laid, there is no way forward. We must come fully into the New Covenant. God is not the type of person that would allow someone with the mind of a five-year-old to get behind the wheel of a car or do some other important adult things. Spiritual immaturity is one of the greatest problems for the churches today. People are simply not growing up into perfection, and as a result it is like living within a society where grown men and women have the mentality, aptitude and priorities of children. The writer gives the solution, let us go on to perfection. This implies a choice on our part. Will we keep telling ourselves that we are “drowning in an ocean of grace” excusing our immaturity, or will we honor God’s heart and go on to perfection.  


For They Shall See God

For They Shall See God
Robert Wurtz II

Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God. (Matthew 5:8)

Our passage on the surface seems to put the future prospect of seeing God completely out of reach for all of us. For if our hearts must be pure in order to see God, who will ever see Him? Reading this passage as a child “purity of heart” seemed to be such a lofty and unattainable thing. Long before the years would come when greater sins and temptations would surface, even a child realizes that their heart is contaminated with thoughts that do not please God. Blessed are the pure in heart? It would seem easier to travel on foot to the moon than to attain to such a place. 

Would You Be Free?

An old hymn asks, “Would you be free from the burden of sin?” This is the great question. Until we are prepared to say “yes” to this question, we will writhe under the bitterness of our sins. When the issues are brought out, we will react defensively. We will seek to hide ourselves from any light that reflects upon our burden, because we have no answer in ourselves. We have done our best; are doing our best; and our best is apparently not good enough. We know we are falling short and we are not happy being reminded of it. We don’t want any help. We want to be left alone to deal with it ourselves. What hope can their be when we are in such a condition? God has to bring us to a place where we want, more than anything else, to be free from our burden.

The Cleansing Power of the Blood

The New Covenant affords us a new heart, but there are times when our hearts need to be cleansed. The writer to the Hebrews offers us tremendous insight into how our hearts can be purified and the burden lifted. We read, How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Hebrews 9:14) Only the blood of Jesus Christ, applied by faith through the Eternal Spirit, can answer our sins. Only the blood applied will cause our conscience to lie down so we can get back to business serving God with a pure heart. John agrees,  My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:1-2) Jesus Christ was the price paid to remove the sense of offense that existed between us and God. Without propitiation; without the blood of Jesus Christ poured out in death; there would be no means of ever looking God as it were “in the face” again. We could not come boldly into His presence and eye to eye. Without the blood all we know to do is to flee from God’s presence. 



No Conscious Sin

God’s will is that we repent of all known sin and that we walk before him with a clear conscience: that is to say, with no conscious sin. We are to walk before the Lord without any unrepented sin. If we are continuing in a behavior we are not repentant, nor is our conscience clear. Our conscience is designed to alert us when we are doing something against what we know is right. If we are entertaining the possibility of sinning or looking for opportunity to sin, we are unrepentant. The Lord came to save us from our sins not in our sins. We all must come to God as sinners, but we cannot remain sinners. If He is truly our Savior He will save us from our sins. The Holy Spirit will make war with anything in our heart that does not please God. Paul said it this way, This being so, I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men. (Acts 24:16 NKJV) and Peter said it similarly, There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 3:21 NKJV) When we are in Christ we are to walk before the Lord with the answer of a good conscience. If we refuse this path then we risk what the Psalmist reveals, If we regard iniquity in our heart the Lord will not hear us. (Psalm 66:18) Godly sorrow, that is, a sorrow that is “God-wards” comes as a result of our response to God dealing with us. When we know that our sin is against God and in His sight then we will sorrow from a right perspective. Once by God’s grace we truly acknowledge, renounce and forsake our sin, we are enabled by the Spirit to maintain that attitude towards it so as not to turn back to it. 

Knowing the Balance 

Once we reach the place where we are unwilling to allow God to lift our burden and cleanse our heart, we are in a bad place. Sin can have such a hold on a person that they hold to it as if it were a lover and will resent a call to repent as sure as a person counseled to abandon a dangerous relationship. This is what God told Israel, Wherefore I have delivered her into the hand of her lovers, into the hand of the Assyrians, upon whom she doted. (Ezekiel 23:9) God had reached out over and over and in many splendorous ways. But the occasional sin had grown to be a lover. Sin can become a “personal sin” if we are not careful. No one can speak to us about it and we have no intention of giving it up. We have to be careful. Many people have abandoned their relationship with God and trod over the blood of Christ out of a refusal to allow God to “free them from their burden of sin.” Once a sin replaces God in the life – God and his presence become expendable desires.  

The Blessing of a Pure Heart 

There is a confidence that comes with knowing our hearts are pure before God. What a blessed (happy!) place to be. Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. (Psalms 24:3,4) What a wonderful thing to know the presence of the Lord! But it was from here that Satan was lifted up with pride and was cast down. In our happiness and zeal we must also guard ourselves lest in our excitement and zeal we forget that we were once purged from our old sins. It was His shed blood, not our works that afford us this blessedness. God was patient with us and we must be patient as well. This does not mean that God excuses sin, He does not; nor does it mean that we leave the impression that it is OK to “sin that grace may abound.” Our confidence is in God and our right relationship with Him, not in the fact that we have victory over sin in our lives. Our confidence is in the fact that our names are written in heaven. God resists the proud – He gives grace to the humble. If we can walk in humility in the times of victory, we will have victory.


 

Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: