Perfection is a state of being. It is an act of perfecting something. Many view perfection as maturity. The Bible speaks often of being perfect. Yet there is a difference between maturity and perfection. And God desires both for us.
Maturing in Christ
“For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. “But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” Hebrews 5:12-14
Like a child that needs food to grow, it is necessary for us to get wisdom, knowledge, and understanding of God’s Word. As we learn, we grow in Him. This is the process of maturing. To continue to grow, we must continue to eat. In the beginning, we learn the fundamentals of the Father and of Christ. The basics of Creation, the Fall, Redemption, and Salvation are all fundamental topics of a vast depth of knowledge provided through the scriptures.
“As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:” 1 Peter 2:2
It is through this gateway we begin to mature. But then we come to a point when our diet must change if we are to continue growing in Christ. We cannot mature drinking milk only. Full maturity is where perfection begins.
Why We Need To Mature
“That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:” Ephesians 4:14-15
Every day people are being taken advantage of by bullies. More often these people are larger and stronger than the ones they manipulate. Otherwise, they have resources they can use as a weapon again those they intimidate. The greatest weapon in the arsenal of a bully is the ability to trick and deceive. The illusion of power is often greater than actual power itself. Unless one can be bluffed into proving their ability, the illusion holds sway over the conquered. A mature person is confident and self-assured. It is difficult for a bully to gain the upper hand. More often than not, bullies do not harass confident people.
“The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy:…” John 10:10
Christians have a bully. He is called the Devil and Satan. While he is hardly a toothless dog as some might believe, he does have a powerful weapon, deception. A mature Christian is not harassed by him because he knows they will stand strong and resist.
Meat Helps Build the Building
As 1 Peter 2:2 states, milk is needed for growth. It builds us outward and downward for stability. That is all a babe in Christ can tolerate. Anything stronger is rejected because the taste is unpleasant and difficult to digest. But we must grow beyond this. Like a skyscraper, we must grow upward to increase and become what God intends for us to be.
The meat of the Word builds us up and adds structure to our walk. Like that skyscraper, no one is sure what the finished building will look like until this stage is complete. So little by little, wood and steel, brick by brick the building takes shape. Yet there are some who continue to drink milk for years. Their growth is limited and they are unable to go beyond the basics because of a lack of tolerance for meat.
“I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.” 1 Corinthians 3:2
This is so because a spiritual mind is necessary to process anything stronger than milk. A need for milk is evidence of one who continues to hold on to carnality.
“And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.” 1 Corinthians 3:1
As the carnal mind and nature is discarded, the building can now tolerate a bit of meat. So the process of maturity can continue.
Becoming the Mature Saint
“But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” Hebrews 5:14
This is the end of maturity. As a child continues to grow, the teeth necessary to process meat grow in. Little by little meat builds strength and character. Like every brick that further defines the look of the building, meat defines our walk. We begin to learn how to tell the difference between right and wrong, good and evil, truth from falsehood. It is a process that requires practice, patience, and endurance. And everyone who names the name of Christ must come to this level of maturity.
“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
What Perfection is Not
Perfection is like trying to reach beyond the moon to many. If it were impossible, God would not have asked us to be perfect. Perfection is not making an attempt to do everything right in our own power. It is a process. And it requires the Holy Spirit to help us.
“Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.” Romans 15:13
It is through the power of the Holy Ghost that we reach perfection. It’s when we do things in our own strength that we doubt our ability to reach the mark.
From Maturity to Perfection
“Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace.” Psalms 37:37
Perfection comes when we reach maturity and practice holiness with the Holy Spirit as mentor and guide. Perfection is doing all that we know to do according to God’s Word. This too is an ongoing process.
“Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect,…” Matthew 19:21
“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” Matthew 5:48
Being perfect is possible if Jesus said ‘be’. Let me repeat. Perfection is a process of passing from childhood to adulthood (maturity) in Christ. It is attainable and we must reach for it.
“But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.” 1 Corinthians 13:10
“For we are glad, when we are weak, and ye are strong: and this also we wish, even your perfection.” 2 Corinthians 13:9
Think about this. Who is Jesus is returning for? Is He returning for construction projects or building made ready? Who went into the wedding feast? Was it the five virgins who waited for the bridegroom to show up, then went out looking for oil? Or was it the five who had their lamps trimmed and ready when He arrived? (Matthew 25:1-12) It’s a mistake to think Jesus is going to perfect us when He returns. Where is that written? Why tell us to ‘be’ if He is going to do the work? Even Paul was aware of the importance of obtaining perfection.
“Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:12
Paul was not perfect when he made this statement. He was also maturing in Christ. But he strove to obtain what Jesus Himself obtained.
“For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” Hebrews 2:10
“And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;” Hebrews 5:9
Perfection is a Requirement
Now consider this. What do you think we will be doing throughout eternity? What we will not be doing is walking around like automatons being perfect because God made us that way. What would be the purpose of free will if in the end it is handed to us on a silver platter?
“He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.” Revelation 21:7
In every church in Revelation chapters two and three, the overcomers are rewarded. It is pointless to pursue what is given. We will live throughout eternity will our free wills intact. We will walk before God, not as beings programmed to be righteous, but being made perfect as Jesus is. Here is a clue. The angels have free will. Would Satan have fallen otherwise???
“Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.” John 17:20-23
The straight and narrow is found by few because it is difficult for the carnal man to see and not easy to traverse. The broad way is traveled by many for the opposite reasons. Growing from maturity to perfection is the difference. A lack of growth frustrates and discourages many. Sometimes they give up and return to the broad way. So set your sights on the Son. Unlike shooting the moon and being content with reaching the stars, He will help you reach your target.
“Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.” Jude 1:24-25