An Urgent Call to Christian Perfection
An Exposition of the Doctrine of Christian
by Tom Stewart
||"Be Perfect": What Saith the Scripture?
he LORD Jesus Christ commanded, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which
is in Heaven is perfect" (Matthew 5:48).
Because the Father and the Son are one... "he
that hath seen Me [Christ] hath seen the Father"
(John 14:9)... Christ is our model for Christian perfection. He is both our motivation,
as well as example, that we "should follow
His steps" (1Peter 2:21). The goal: "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
||We are able to obey the command.
ust the fact that Christ commands us to be perfect
is reason enough for us to believe that we can, and ought, to be perfect. Why?
First, the just nature of our LORD secures for us the attainability of our
perfection on the ground that it is a fair, just, and equitable command. "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" (Genesis 18:25).
Second, the LORD completely understands the capabilities and limitations of each
of us. "For He knoweth our frame; He remembereth
that we are dust" (Psalm 103:14).
Third, our LORD Jesus Christ is completely sympathetic to our circumstances, "For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched
with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are,
yet without sin" (Hebrews 4:15).
Finally, our claim to love God necessitates our obedience to His command to be perfect
because His commands are never "grievous" (or, burdensome). Grievous commands are impossible and
unbearable. Not so with His command that we should be perfect. "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments;
and His commandments are not grievous"
||Christians are perfect.
erfect describes not only our heavenly Father, but
also His earthly children. "Because as
He is, so are we in this world" (1John
4:17). Christians are Scripturally represented as presently perfect, not awaiting
future heavenly fulfillment. "For by one
offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified" (Hebrews 10:14). Christians are Scripturally represented as actually
perfect, not just in theory. "Let us therefore,
as be perfect, be thus minded: if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall
reveal even this unto you" (Philippians
||Perfect means sanctified.
hristians are those who are perfect. Those who are
perfect are sanctified... "For by one
offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified" (Hebrews 10:14). Christian sanctification is a fact:
(1) "Unto the church of God which is at
Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints" (1Corinthians 1:2) and
(2) "Know ye not that the unrighteous
shall not inherit the kingdom of God?... fornicators... idolaters... adulterers...
effeminate... abusers of themselves with mankind... thieves... covetous... drunkards...
revilers... extortioners... And such were some of you: but ye are washed,
but ye are sanctified" (1Corinthians
||Sanctification is fact.
hristian sanctification is a fact. How?
First, via the Word. "Sanctify them through
Thy Truth: Thy Word is Truth" (John 17:17).
[Christ] might sanctify and cleanse it [the Church] with
the washing of water by the Word" (Ephesians
Second, via faith. "That they may receive
forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith" (Acts 26:18).
Third, via the Father. "To them that are
sanctified by God the Father" (Jude 1).
Fourth, via Christ. "We are sanctified
through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all" (Hebrews 10:10). "Wherefore
Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered without
the gate" (Hebrews 13:12).
Finally, via the Holy Ghost. "That the
offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost" (Romans 15:16).
||Sanctification is entire.
ot only did the LORD Jesus Christ command us to be
perfect, but the Apostle Paul prayed for the complete sanctification of the Thessalonians.
Whether you call it entire sanctification or Christian perfection, it describes the
same thing. "And the very God of peace
sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved
blameless unto the coming of our LORD Jesus Christ"
(1Thessalonians 5:23). Notice the following:
(1) God sanctifies completely, not simply enough to get us into Heaven, and
(2) Sanctification must take place NOW for it to be preserved until a future event,
i.e., "the coming of our LORD Jesus Christ".
||Perfect means perfect heart.
hat is the nature of Christian perfection? Perfection
implies a perfect heart. "For the eyes
of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew Himself strong in
the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him"
(2Chronicles 16:9). A perfect heart demonstrates a wholehearted seeking of God. "With my whole heart have I sought Thee: O let me not
wander from Thy commandments" (Psalm 119:10).
Anyone who wholeheartedly seeks after God does no iniquity. "Blessed are they that keep His testimonies, and that seek Him
with the whole heart. They also do no iniquity: they walk in His ways" (Psalm 119:2-3). Therefore, sin in the saints must be contrary
to abiding in Christ. "Whosoever abideth
in Him sinneth not" (1John 3:6).
||Perfect means sinless.
n the book of Job, the question is posed, "What is man that he should be clean? and he which
is born of woman, that he should be righteous"
(Job 15:14). King David faced the same question after he had committed the sin of
adultery with Bathsheba. "Have mercy upon
me, O God... Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin...
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow" (Psalm 51:1,2,7). David implored God for mercy. He asked
God to cleanse him from sin. He concluded that if God would purge and wash him, he
would "be clean... whiter than snow". No telltale residue of sin remains when the LORD, the
Creator of Clean Hearts (Psalm 51:10) has purged and washed a sinner.
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