Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Sunday, January 23, 2011
Matthew + 5:48
"You must therefore be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Jesus Christ)
When Jesus gave this commandment, surely those who heard it for the first time must have been taken aback by its overwhelming implications. 'Only God is perfect all the time,' they must have thought, and 'There is only one God.'
Of course, at the time, the followers of Jesus had no idea of what was to come for mankind through Him. Their faith had barely scratched the surface of Christ's mission on earth. As for the Jews, their knowledge of perfection had been limited to the writings of Old Testament prophets, holy men and women, and the scriptural interpretations of the Jewish hierarchy.
Yet here was Jesus- giving them a glimpse into their futures by way of a prophetic commandment that challenged them to be as God is- perfect.
John + 10:34
"Is it not written in your Law: 'I said, you are gods?' So the Law uses the word gods of those to whom the word of God was addressed, and scripture cannot be rejected" (Jesus Christ)
'Like father, like son,' is a phrase often used to either commend or criticize a person's behavior; to credit the positive growth of an individual, or lack of it, by pointing out the power of parental influence over the way he or she thinks and does things. When scripture exhorts us to revolutionize our thinking by leaving behind any influence that does not mirror godlike behavior, it, too, is challenging us to get with God's program for the eventual achievement of perfection; to take after our Father in heaven, Who is perfect.
But where does one begin to realize such a seemingly unattainable goal? That's where Jesus comes in. He was and is the first, flesh and blood embodiment of perfection; the first, womb-to-tomb being to ever achieve 24/7, 100%-of-the-time, perfect time and space.
John + 14:9
"To have seen me is to have seen the Father." (Jesus Christ)
John + 10:29
"The Father and I are one." (Jesus Christ)
"If you know me, you know my Father too." (Jesus Christ)
Mark + 9:37
"Anyone who welcomes me, welcomes not me, but the one who sent me." (Jesus Christ)
In saying all this, Jesus identified himself with the Father in an unmistakable way, a way that tells us, in no uncertain terms, that the key to being perfect, as our father in heaven, is to know and be like Jesus; to behave like He behaved, and do what He did while in the flesh.
The Apostle Paul amplifies this axiom of faith in his letter to the Philippians.
Philippians + 3:9 to 16
"I am no longer trying for perfection by my own efforts, the perfection that comes from the Law, but I want only the perfection that comes through faith in Christ, and is from God and based on faith. All I want is to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and to share his sufferings by reproducing the pattern of his death. That is the way I can hope to take my place in the resurrection of the dead. Not that I have become perfect yet: I have not yet won, but I am still running, trying to capture the prize for which Christ Jesus captured me. I can assure you my brothers, I am far from thinking that I have already won. All I can say is that I forget the past and strain ahead for what is still to come; I am racing for the finish for the prize to which God calls us upwards to receive in Christ Jesus. We who are called
'perfect' must all think in this way. If there is some point on which you see things differently, God will make it clear to you; meanwhile, let us go forward on the road that has brought us to where we are."
Why are those who are in Christ called 'perfect?' It is because, thanks to the cleansing, shed blood of Jesus Christ, that is how our Father in heaven sees us- perfect, sinless, and without flaw. That is how Jesus wants us to see each other as well because, by doing so, we adopt the perception of God the Father, thereby identifying with His perfect vision for all mankind, for He wishes that none should be lost.
To those of us in Christ Jesus, the glass of water is not only seen as half full, but filled to overflowing. At the same time, we see things as they really are. This is unavoidable where dealing with unbelievers is concerned. But, like Jesus, the faith we hold in Christ overcomes the temptation to dwell on the past. Instead, we focus on perfection, which is our heritage, rebirth right, and future, and the futures of those unto whom we minister
God's Word and power; those who are called and chosen to be perfect through Christ Jesus.We no longer see things from a flesh perspective, but through the Word of God and the spiritual eyes and ears of the Holy Spirit. We no longer strive for earthly things, but for the things of heaven, the Kingdom of God, not the kingdom of this world, which cannot even begin to comprehend perfection as God and His sons and daughters have been given the power to discern.
Colossians + 3:1 to 3
"Since you have been brought back to true life with Christ, you must look for the things that are in heaven, where Christ is, sitting at God's right hand. Let your thoughts be on heavenly things, not on the things that are on the earth, because you have died, and now the life you have is hidden with Christ in God."
Philippians + 3:20 to 21
"For us, our homeland is in heaven, and from heaven comes the savior we are waiting for, the Lord Jesus Christ, and he will transfigure these wretched bodies of ours into copies of his glorious body. He will do that by the same power with which he can subdue the whole universe."
1 Corinthians + 2:14
"An unspiritual person is one who does not accept anything of the Spirit of God: he sees it all as nonsense; it is beyond his understanding because it can only be understood by means of the Spirit. The spiritual man, on the other hand, is able to judge the value of everything, and his own value is not to be judged by other men. As scripture says: Who can know the mind of the Lord, so who can teach him? But we are those who have the Mind of Christ."
At the outset of each sinner's journey to perfection, all he or she is capable of appreciating about life in the Spirit is contemplated from a human perspective. God knew this would be the case with mankind. That's why He manifested His perfection through the flesh and blood incarnation of Jesus Christ, Who is, was, and always will be perfect.
There is nothing perfect about the flesh, and there never will be. However, while we are still influenced by its natural mind set and senses, we can still achieve godlike behavior while still in it by also being in the Spirit, just as Jesus did while He was on earth. In doing so, He opened our eyes to the very real possibility of living a perfect life and gave us something to shoot for by setting a profound example we may never have witnessed or contemplated had God not taken on human form.
Before Roger Banister broke the four-minute mile and Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon, no one within a few years of those mind-blowing events believed they were possible. Before the cell phone became an affordably practical part of our everyday lives, only Star Trek fans and the technically astute entertained the notion that such a device could be developed within their own lifetimes.
Before Jesus Christ walked the earth, only prophets and those who attended to them could begin to imagine what it would be like to have God Himself within their midst, let alone envision the day when a human being could be perfect, as Jesus was while still in the flesh.
John + 14:12
"I tell you most solemnly, whoever believes in me will perform the same works as I do myself, he will perform even greater works." (Jesus Christ)
1 John + 3:2 and 3
"My dear people, we are already the children of God but what we are to be in the future has not yet been revealed; all we know is, that when it is revealed we shall be like him (Jesus) because we shall see him as he really is. Surely everyone who entertains this hope must purify himself, must try to be as pure as Christ."
We all fall short of the glory of God. The aspect of sin in our discipleship is inevitable. No one can escape sin 100% of his or her time on Earth, for the flesh and the natural mind are formidable opponents to perfection. However, thanks to God’s mercy, He will never allow us to suffer more than what our personal strength can endure. He knows, through Jesus, how difficult it initially is to be perfect in an imperfect, sinful world. That is why being in the Spirit is an absolute must, for when we are possessed and led by the Holy Spirit, 100%-of-the-time perfection becomes a foregone conclusion for as long as we are.
Revelation + 3:2
“So far I have failed to notice anything in the way you live that my God could possibly call perfect…”
Notice in this verse how Jesus expects perfect behavior from His brothers and sisters here and now, while we are still living in our flesh and blood bodies. By completely letting go to the power of the Holy Spirit we are able to do just that. But in order to do so we must humble ourselves to God’s will by dying to self and allowing God to operate through us. In doing so, we also do as Jesus did when He was in the flesh for however long our potential and faith prescribes.
Let it be further understood that the only human being who ever achieved wall-to-wall perfection for the entirety of His life on Earth was Jesus of Nazareth. All we, who are in Christ, could ever hope to do is steadily increase the being-perfect percentage of our time on Earth in accordance with the personal prophecy God gives us the strength to endure and fulfill. This is what a Christian's growth is really all about: to strive for and accomplish 100%-of-the-time, Holy Spirit instrumentation, while often-to-rarely falling short of the glory Jesus reflected during His in-the-flesh, perfect example of life in the Spirit of God the Father.
John + 4:24
"God is Spirit…" (Jesus Christ)
1 John + 4:16
"God is love, and anyone who lives in love lives in God, and God lives in him."
1 Peter + 1:15
"Be holy, for I am Holy."
What grieves the Spirit is an unwillingness to drive one's own personal potential towards actualizing these godlike characteristics, especially when he or she has been given the faith and strength to accomplish that goal.
2 Corinthians + 13:9
"What we ask in our prayers is for you to be made perfect."
James + 1:25
"…the man who looks steadily at the perfect law of freedom and makes that his habit- not listening and then forgetting, but actively putting into practice- will be happy in all that he does."
James + 3:2 and 3
"…the only man who could reach perfection would be someone who never said anything wrong. He would be able to control every part of himself. Once we put the bit into the horse's mouth, to make it do what we want, we have the whole animal under our control."
These three verses give us practical insight, where being perfect is concerned, for they tell us that when God's righteousness abides in us all the time, to the degree that nothing wrong is ever said, it also means that we are dying to self by completely letting go to the influence and/or control of the Holy Spirit.
Luke + 6:45
"…a man's words flow out of what fills his heart." (Jesus Christ)
Perfect behavior is the result of inspired prayer, right thinking and speaking, by virtue of the fact that, through conversational contact with both God and man, we always and ultimately say 'yes' to what is the perfect thing to do, and 'no' to what is not.
James + 3:4 and 6
"Or think of ships: no matter how big they are, even if a gale is driving them, the man at the helm can steer them anywhere he likes by controlling a tiny rudder. So is the tongue only a tiny part of the body, but it can proudly proclaim that it does great things. Think how small a flame can set fire to a huge forest; the tongue is a flame like that. Among all the parts of the body; catching fire itself from hell, it sets fire to the whole wheel of creation."
Titus + 2:11 to 14
“You see, God’s grace has been revealed, and it has made salvation possible for the whole human race and taught us that what we have to do it to give up everything that does not lead to God, and all our worldly ambitions; we must be self-restrained and live good and religious lives here in the present world, while we are waiting in hope for the blessings which will come with the Appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ...”
1 John + 4:17 and 18
"Love will come to its perfection in us when we can face the day of Judgment without fear; because even in this world we have become as he (Jesus) is. In love there can be no fear, but fear is driven out by perfect love: because to fear is to expect punishment, and anyone who is afraid is still imperfect in love."
Hebrews + 12:2 and 23
"Let us not lose sight of Jesus, who leads us in our faith and brings it to perfection…(23) You have come to God himself, the supreme judge, and been placed with the spirits of the saints who have been made perfect…"
James + 1:2 to 4
"My brothers, you will always have your trials but, when they come, try to treat them as a happy privilege; you understand that your faith is only put to the test to make you patient, but patience too is to have its practical results so that you will become fully-developed, complete, with nothing missing.
Romans + 12:2
"Do not model yourselves on the behavior of the world around you, but let your behavior change, modeled by your new mind. This is the only way to discover the will of God and know what is good, what it is that God wants, what is the perfect thing to do."
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