As Paul is writing from prison at Rome to the Christians at Phillipi, he defines for us what it means for a Christian to achieve perfection. In chapter 3, Paul reflects on all he has lost in order to follow Jesus and states: “Whatever was formerly considered gain for me, I now count these things as loss.”
Paul was an exemplary man when it came to being righteous under the laws of Moses. At one point he states that he was “blameless.”
In spite of achieving intellectual and scholarly success by this world’s standards, all of these things were seen by Paul as loss, compared to what he had gained by knowing Jesus.
Despite all of Paul’s attempts at being righteous by doing things in keeping the laws of Moses, it was the simplicity of trusting Christ for his salvation that he now understood was how he would be seen by God as truly righteous.
In verse 10 of Philippians 3, Paul summarizes all of the events of his life by one statement: “that I might know Jesus and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of His suffering.”
Paul realized that in his human life, he could never achieve perfection. It was not going to be possible for him, or any of us, to be morally perfect while living in our bodies. Despite all of his efforts to be truly righteous by doing right things Paul says that he had not attained this by his efforts.
Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. ~Philippians 3:12-14
The Hebrew word for “perfection,” is “Tanum.” The Greek, “Katartizo.”
Both mean that a person has become blameless before God because of their trust in Jesus, but not that they are morally perfect. Perfection in the Bible, never means that a person is sinless.
When the Old Testament speaks of a person as blameless or perfect, it does not mean that they were without sin. It means that by their trust in the salvation that God has provided for us by Jesus’ death and resurrection, God sees us a perfect, without blame—regarding our sins. The moment that anyone places their trust in Jesus for salvation, God removes their sins from their record and they no longer exist.
There Are Three Stages Of Perfection That The Bible Reveals:
- Positional Perfection: This is the standing of every believer in Jesus, from God’s perspective, at the moment they trust in Jesus for their salvation. They are positionally perfect because all their sins are no longer on their record (Hebrews 10:14).
- Relative Perfection: This is in regards to their spiritual maturity according to Philippians 3:15, we understand that we are not yet perfect in practice, but nevertheless, press on towards the goal of apprehending perfection someday when Jesus comes for us and gives us a new, perfect, and eternal body that will never sin again.
In The Pursuit of Our Relative Perfection, We Pursue These:
- The will of God (Colossians 4:12).
- Love (1 John 4:17-18).
- Holiness (2 Corinthians 7:1).
- Patience (James 1:4).
- Every Good Word (Hebrews 13:21).
In our pursuit of relative perfection, we achieve some success progressively, as described by 2 Corinthians 7:1: We continue everyday to work on perfecting our holiness (separation from sin).
Because we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit. And let us work toward complete holiness because we fear God. ~2 Corinthians 7:1 (NLT)
We don’t fall back into the trap of trying to be holy or acceptable to God by keeping laws perfectly, but by continued trust in Jesus as the basis for our right standing in God. We try to be holy in all our conduct and express love in all things. The Galatians had forgotten these things, though they believed them at the beginning. After a time, they started to go back to their former conduct of performance, instead of reliance upon Jesus for their righteous standing before God.
How foolish can you be? After starting your new lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort? ~Galatians 3:3 (NLT)
It is the job of pastors to equip believers with knowledge of these things, by teaching them the word of God from cover to cover. It is the teaching of the Bible to people that builds up knowledge, confidence, and practices of faith, not a performance-based religion the world teaches.
Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers.Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. ~Ephesians 4:11-12 (NLT)
3. Ultimate Perfection: Is imparted to those who live their lives trusting in Jesus for their salvation, at the resurrection of their body, when they receive an eternal body. Whether by resurrection or rapture, we will never attain complete moral perfection in body and soul until we are raised and transformed into an eternal creature. This perfect state is what Paul confessed that he had not achieved yet in Philippians 3:12, and no Christian will ever achieve, until we are raised from the dead by Jesus, never to die again.
Until that time that we are made perfect and complete by Jesus, we still pursue moral perfection every day. The idea that anyone can continue to live in the practice of sins, while claiming to be a follower of Jesus, is inconsistent with salvation. The primary requirement for God to give us salvation is always repentance from our sins, and a turning to Jesus for our salvation.
If we will not turn from sexual sins; adultery, fornication, same-sex relationships, or any other sins, we cannot be saved. If we are willing and turn from the daily practice of sins, God will accept us. Although we will not achieve perfection in our attempts to be sinless, we can always achieve the status of sinning less.
No person who has come to Jesus and turned from their sins, should ever feel condemned because they continue to make mistakes and sin on occasion. this happened in Paul’s life, and it will happen in all of our lives.
When we sin, we confess these things to Jesus and He is faithful and just to forgive us from all sin.
If we determine to trust in Jesus for our salvation, God places into our spiritual account, perfect righteousness. Because we realize how much it cost Jesus to pay for all of our sins, by our sincere gratitude, we seek to lives lives that are worthy of Him and all He has done for us.
Categories: America Abandons God, Gay Marriage and Same-Sex, Going to Church but unsaved, Jesus Church, Living For Jesus, No Compromise, Pleasing the Lord, Robert Clifton Robinson, Same-Sex and Saved, Serving Jesus, Sexual Immorality, True Repentance
Great post! Thanks for sharing.
Let’s see if I have this right…
“Ultimate perfection” is unattainable, however
“Perfect righteousness” is gifted!…through Christ!
Thank you again Rob for opening little trap doors of mind.
ricardo ~ Philippines