The Second Position: Perfection?
The second position available in Christ about sin in our lives is this: after being born again, we become transformed into a completely new creation, we no longer have a sinful nature, and we will never sin again. Perfection is attainable.
Before I begin to launch into my explanation of this position, I must acknowledge that I fully understand the sheer absurdity that strikes most of my readers regarding even entertaining the idea of perfection outside of heaven. I am also very aware that the reputation of so-called perfectionists by the vast majority of pastors is generally negative. However, I committed to teaching what the Lord has taught me, and because I know for a fact that what the Lord has shown me is beneficial for instruction and provides wonderful fruit, I will continue with a sincere promise to you: if you will remain humble and open to what I say below, like a child would be, then you will gain beautiful insight into God’s will for your life, your identity, your destiny, and your ultimate purpose. God truly sacrificed everything on the cross, and through the ultimate sacrifice, He intends for us to receive everything that His kingdom holds (John 16:14–15).
First, it is important to define what the word perfect means. Many of us think that the word perfect denotes individuals who are 100 percent correct in every single thing that they say and do. These persons are believed to be never wrong because they know everything and are more advanced than everyone else in all their thoughts and actions (i.e., they are supposedly omniscient). The problem with this definition is that it is not how the Bible defines perfection.
The words for perfect in the Hebrew Old Testament and Greek New Testament are very similar in their definitions. In fact, they virtually mean the exact, same thing, and rather than describing the great abilities, knowledge, or actions that we might expect to see from a perfect individual, the words actually describe the purity of a person’s character and heart and their full growth in the Lord.
For example, most of the Hebrew words for perfect originate from the word tamam, and collectively they mean “to be finished,” “complete,” “at an end,” “to cross over,” “made whole,” “to deal in integrity,” “perfect,” “perfectly honest weights for scales in business transactions,” “unblemished,” “whole,” “blameless,” “to act uprightly,” and “to be clean.”
The words in the ancient Greek for the word perfect originate from telos, which is translated as “complete,” “brought to an end,” “perfect,” “finished,” “nothing more necessary for completeness,” “consummate human integrity and virtue,” “mature,” “full-grown,” “an adult,” “full of age,” or “paid in full.” And collectively, the other words in Greek that mean perfect are translated similarly. Some of these other definitions include “repaired” or “restored,” “nothing is maimed,” and “the presence of all parts necessary for completeness” and also “the adaptation and aptitude of these parts for their designed purpose.”
These are the comprehensive definitions of the word perfect as it is used biblically. I hope the biblical definition of the word perfect clarifies your understanding of how God views perfect people on earth. Now that we have a better understanding of what it means to be perfect, let us take a closer look at people in the Bible who are characterized as being perfect. This might surprise you, but in the Bible, Jesus Christ was not the only human described as being perfect. The biggest difference between Jesus and the rest of humanity is that Jesus never sinned in His life, but even though these other men sinned in their lives, they were still seen as perfect in God’s eyes. This only further proves how powerful and wonderful God’s grace and mercy are for us.
In the Old Testament, there are several people who are described as perfect. Obviously, God is described as perfect (2 Samuel 22:31), but we also see several other men given the exact, same description of perfection. Noah was perfect (Genesis 6:9), Abram/Abraham was told to be perfect by God (Genesis 17:1), God says that Job is perfect (Job 1:1, 1:8, 2:3), King David is described as perfect (1 Kings 11:4), King Asa was perfect (1 Kings 15:14 and 2 Chronicles 15:17), King Hezekiah asks God to heal him because he was perfect (2 Kings 20:3), and John the Baptist’s parents, both Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth, were righteous and blameless in all of the commandments and ordinances of the Lord (Luke 1:5-6). So we can see that even before Christ even came onto the scene and died for the world’s sins, some people were still able to attain perfection in God’s eyes.
If this strikes you as odd, it should, because what is absent from the picture here is the infilling of the Holy Spirit who empowers us to accomplish more than we ever thought possible. Don’t forget that the kings and prophets of old didn’t have the Holy Spirit living in them the same way as we do today. And considering that fact, it is important not to make the mistake of comparing yourself to the great kings and prophets of old and doubting your ability to achieve or attain what they have accomplished, because Jesus Christ made this all-inclusive statement to put it into perspective for you: “Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he” (Matthew 11:11 and Luke 7:28).
Do you see what Jesus is saying? He is saying that if the kingdom of heaven lives within you, then you have something greater than every single man ever born before John the Baptist (which includes every person featured in the Old Testament)! So what is being declared by God Himself is that, as a follower of Jesus Christ, the ceiling of the kings and prophets of old has actually become your floor. You are therefore expected by Jesus to be greater and to do greater things than any men from the Old Testament ever did!
This aligns perfectly with what Jesus said about what we would accomplish in comparison to even His own works while He was on earth: “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father” (John 14:12). The point of all this is to never allow your expectations (or your faith) in God’s ability to work through your life to falter in any way at all, because His will for you is that you believe that through your life, He will do the greatest and mightiest works this world has ever seen! If we could believe that this is possible, then maybe we would start to see some of the mighty miracles that Jesus performed in His time on earth happen today.
I believe that it is crucial to lay a solid foundation of any doctrine we form using an abundance of scripture. For a scriptural doctrine or theory to be presented, I believe that two or three “witnesses” should be required (based on Deuteronomy 19:15, Matthew 18:16, 2 Corinthians 13:1). Considering this biblical practice of finding two or three witnesses, I asked God to show me some scriptures testifying toward a perfect nature doctrine in His word.
Here are some of the scriptures that God revealed to me in the Old Testament:
- “I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be perfect…” Genesis 17:1.
- “You shall be blameless [or perfect] before the Lord your God” Deuteronomy 18:13.
- “God is my strength and power, and He makes my way perfect” 2 Samuel 22:33.
- “Let your heart therefore be loyal [or blameless, wholly true, perfect] to the Lord our God, to walk in His statutes and keep His commandments, as at this day” 1 Kings 8:61.
- “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth to show Himself strong in behalf of those whose hearts are blameless [or perfect] toward Him” 2 Chronicles 16:9.
- “It is God who arms me with strength, and makes my way perfect” Psalms 18:32.
- “Mark the blameless [or perfect] man, and observe the upright; for the future of that man is peace” Psalms 37:37.
- “I will behave wisely in a perfect way…” Psalms 101:2.
- “My eyes shall be on the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with Me; he who walks in a perfect way, he shall serve Me” Psalms 101:6.
- “The Lord will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O Lord, endures forever” Psalms 138:8.
- “For the upright will dwell in the land, and the blameless will remain in it” Proverbs 2:21.
And here are the witnesses that God showed to me in the New Testament:
- “You will be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” Matthew 5:48.
- “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me” Matthew 19:21.
- “If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, the whole body will be full of light, as when the bright shining of a lamp gives you light” Luke 11:36.
- “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher” Luke 6:40.
- “And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me” John 17:22–23.
- “…the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, [goes] to all and on all who believe” Romans 3:22.
- “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” Romans 12:2.
- “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” 2 Corinthians 7:1.
- “For we are glad when we are weak and you are strong. And this also we pray, that you may be made complete [or perfect]” 2 Corinthians 13:9.
- “Finally, brethren, farewell. Become complete [or perfect]. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you” 2 Corinthians 13:11.
- “Till we all come to the unity of the faith and knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure and stature and fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning and craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ” Ephesians 4:13–15.
- “Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus” Colossians 1:28.
- “But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection” Colossians 3:14.
- “Epaphras, who is one of you, a bondservant of Christ, greets you, always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God” Colossians 4:12.
- “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified. For God did not call us to uncleanness, but into holiness” 1 Thessalonians 4:3–7.
- “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely [or perfectly]; and may your whole [entire, complete, free from sin, no part incomplete] spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” 1 Thessalonians 5:23.
- “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete [or perfect], thoroughly equipped for every good work” 2 Timothy 3:16–17.
- “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” Hebrews 6:1.
- “For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are sanctified” Hebrews 10:14.
- “Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, That Great Shepherd of the Sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete [or perfect] in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen” Hebrews 13:21.
- “But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” James 1:4.
- “For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body” James 3:2.
- “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever” 1 Peter 1:22–23.
- “But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered awhile, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you” 1 Peter 5:10.
- “Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble” 2 Peter 1:10.
- “But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked” 1 John 2:5–6.
- “Little children let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous” 1 John 3:7.
- “Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love” 1 John 4:17–18.
- “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy” Jude 24.
Wow. I have reviewed this section easily a hundred times, and reading these verses never ceases to amaze me. I encourage you to take a quick moment right now and lift up your hands and thank God Almighty for His wonderful provision and power in our lives. May His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Now you have read the abundance of scripture that supports the idea of perfection (which has always been there and has been just waiting for us to see it), but somehow it seems as though we have been snared into believing that we are still sinful with Christ in us!? At this point, isn’t it obvious to you that we have been fooled? The truth is, we don’t believe that we are still sinners because God wants us to remain humble; we believe that we are still sinners because the devil doesn’t want empowered believers to walk the earth. I just gave you thirty-nine distinct scriptures that are practically ignored in mainstream church doctrine about perfection, not to mention over thirty scriptures in the previous section about freedom from sin! Is it clear to you now that God has much greater intentions for our lives than we do? We have an incredible legacy to live up to, and we are falling short because we do not believe in it!