Perfection

Northport Sermon 2-23-13

 

Hymn: 74 “Like a River Glorious”

Scripture: Is. 55:8-11

Hymn of consecration: 316 “Live out Thy Life Within Me”

 

Is. 55:8-11 ¶For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

 

In my experience, the word “perfection” has always been an emotionally charged word. Sometimes any discussion about perfection breaks down suddenly with the question: “Are you perfect?”

 

First of all let us attempt to define our terms. What does the word “perfection” mean?

 

Starting with the web,

Noun

  1. The condition, state, or quality of being free or as free as possible from all flaws or defects.

  2. A person or thing perceived as the embodiment of such a condition, state, or quality.


 

Next let us read the Bible definition of perfection. It is found in Luke 6:40 “The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master.” Jesus is our standard of perfection. For us to be perfect, is to be like Jesus in character and thinking and acting.

 

Now for our purposes, we have to deal with four definitions of perfection in the context of God and salvation:

  1. Absolute perfection: God alone is absolutely perfect. So we do not need to concern ourselves further with absolute perfection.

  2. Nature perfection: God alone can make our natures perfect. So we can also leave nature perfection in God's hands and let Him alone to work that out in His time.

  3. Character surrender: This is where our focus needs to be, because character surrender is the only requirement by God of us for entrance into heaven. The one question God asks us is: “Do you love me more than this?” and God is pointing out a sin to us. We only have one choice in life – and that is a choice between God, and obedience and fellowship with Him, and a much loved, much cherished sin! And we are told that each of the lost will know when and where they made their final decision between God and their cherished sin!

  4. Character maturity: Only God can tell when this condition is reached.

 

It is vital that we are all on the same page as far as the definition of sin.

I have seen that what some people call sin, is temptation.

Other people believe that sin is the nature we are born with.

How long are we going to keep our birth nature?

How long are we going to be tempted?

 

So this is an area of thought that we need clarified in order to understand.

 

What difference does it make what we think sin is?

 

What you believe determines what you do. And what you do determines your destiny.

 

So let us start our study of perfection with perhaps the best known verse in the Bible.

 

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

 

So we see in this text that there are two destinies, two destinations in life. There are those who perish and there are those who have everlasting life. What makes the difference? It is belief in Jesus and His ability to save to the uttermost those who believe in Him and who believe to the point of coming to Jesus.

So we can see that it is a life and death issue what we believe.

 

What is sin?

 

“It is the privilege of every sinner to ask his teacher what sin really is. Give me a definition of sin. We have one in 1 John 3:4 “Sin is the transgression of the law.” Now this is the only definition of sin in the whole Bible.” Sermons and Talks Volume One page 229. There are other descriptions of sin in the Bible, but this is the only definition of sin.

 

James 1:14 tells us how sin works: “Every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.

Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.”

 

So we see a three stage progressive experience in sin.

 

Stage 1 being tempted, drawn away from what is known is right; there is a strong desire for the wrong.

Stage 2 is entertaining, keeping the strong desire in mind, considering it, thinking about it; cherishing it. This is the growth or nurture stage allowing the idea to conceive or develop to the next stage.

Stage 3 is the conception of the idea; the acceptance of the temptation; the cherishing the sinful thought or lustful desire until it conceives. Sin has then taken place – sin is brought forth. Sin is birthed. When sin is finished, there is death. Death is the result of sin.

 

Now the concept of character perfection is the idea that a person can live without sin, by God's grace. In Scripture this is called overcoming. Overcoming what? It is sin that is overcome. Unless it is believed that victory over sin, by God's grace is a possibility – victory over sin will never take place. In order to have victory over sin, there must be victory over temptation. Temptation is not sin. Jesus was tempted in all points, like as we are, yet without sin. Hebrews 4:15.

 

He who has not sufficient faith in Christ to believe that He can keep him from sinning, has not the faith that will give him an entrance into the kingdom of God.” 3SM362

 

Now are there any questions on what we have spoken of so far? If there are questions at this point, they need to be addressed before we can go farther. Are we all agreed, that victory over temptation and sin is possible in this life, here and now? If not, we cannot go on before we are agreed. There is little benefit to discuss the how of something, that is not believed in. Does that make sense?

 

 

Now perfection is being like Christ in character.

Now perfection exists on four levels:

Absolute perfection which is the province of God only. We will leave absolute perfection with God.

Nature perfection is also only in the province of God. We will leave nature perfection with God.

Character submission is our choice. This is our part in salvation and preparation for heaven.

Character maturity is a function of time. We are all maturing character day by day, whether we try to or not. Character maturity is a function of time and is unavoidable. So the only part of perfection that is a concern to us is character submission. What I need to know how to do and what I need to experience daily is character submission. Success in character submission is the entrance requirement to heaven. The only question Jesus asks for entrance to heaven is: “Do you love me – more than the sin that separated you from me?”

 

Now God has given us a promise in terms of character maturity.

 

Philippians 1:6 “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.

 

Three practical suggestions in overcoming temptation and sin are:

 

There is only one stage in the development of temptation and sin where we can experience victory. We cannot avoid temptation completely. Satan has access to us 24/7. But there is one stage – the conception stage that we can interrupt the temptation from conceiving into sin. If we do not cherish the temptation; if we do not give the temptation a chance to strengthen and grow or conceive – then temptation can be overcome by God's grace.

 

  1. Preventative prayer: Pray, “Lord you know my besetting sin is ____. Give me a hatred for that sin. I am willing for you to take that sin away completely.” If I am not willing yet, then pray for the Lord to make you willing to be willing to give up that sin. Just one sin and one sin only at a time is mentioned by name to the Lord, and ask for a hatred for that sin.

  2. Bible memorization. “Thy word have I hid in my heart, that I may not sin against thee.” Ps. 119:11 When the temptation to that sin comes into your mind, replace the thought with Scripture. Think: “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want” Ps. 23:1 and or any other Scripture that you have stored in your mind. It is impossible for the desire to sin to grow into conception to sin in the cradle of the Word of God! The more words of Scripture you have memorized, the longer you can kill that temptation, until temptation does not have a chance to conceive into sin!

  3. Scripture song. This is so powerful. Song makes Scripture easier to learn and the combination of song using the Word of God is a winning combination in killing temptation.

 

 

Do you believe the Bible?

 

Jude 24 “Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling and present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,” … be glory and dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.

 

2 Peter 2:9 “The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:”

 

1 Corinthians 10:13 “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”

 

II Corinthians 10:5 “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;”


Galatians 5:16 “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.”

 

I John 3:6 “Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, either know known him.”

 

I John 3:8 “He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.”

 

I John 3:9 “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.”

 

 

Spirit of Prophecy

 

In a life wholly devoted to the good of others, the Saviour found it necessary to withdraw from the thoroughfares of travel and from the throng that followed Him day after day. He must turn aside from a life of ceaseless activity and contact with human needs, to seek retirement and unbroken communion with His Father. As one with us, a sharer in our needs and weaknesses, He was wholly dependent upon God, and in the secret place of prayer He sought divine strength, that He might go forth braced for duty and trial. In a world of sin Jesus endured struggles and torture of soul. In communion with God He could unburden the sorrows that were crushing Him. Here He found comfort and joy. {DA 362.4}

In Christ the cry of humanity reached the Father of infinite pity. As a man He supplicated the throne of God till His humanity was charged with a heavenly current that should connect humanity with divinity. Through continual communion He received life from God, that He might impart life to the world. His experience is to be ours.” {DA 363.1}

 

Harnessing the Mind—“All are free moral agents, and as such they must bring their thoughts to run in the right channel. Here is a wide field in which the mind can safely range. If Satan seeks to divert the mind to low and sensual things, bring it back again and place it on eternal things; and when the Lord sees the determined effort made to retain only pure thoughts, He will attract the mind, like the magnet, purify the thoughts, and enable them to cleanse themselves from every secret sin. “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). {2MCP 595.2}

The first work of those who would reform is to purify the imagination. If the mind is led out in a vicious direction, it must be restrained to dwell only upon pure and elevated subjects. When tempted to yield to a corrupt imagination, then flee to the throne of grace and pray for strength from Heaven. In the strength of God the imagination can be disciplined to dwell upon things which are pure and heavenly.”—Und MS 93. {2MCP 595.3}

 

 

The prince of this world cometh,” said Jesus, “and hath nothing in Me.” John 14:30. There was in Him nothing that responded to Satan’s sophistry. He did not consent to sin. Not even by a thought did He yield to temptation. So it may be with us. Christ’s humanity was united with divinity; He was fitted for the conflict by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. And He came to make us partakers of the divine nature. So long as we are united to Him by faith, sin has no more dominion over us. God reaches for the hand of faith in us to direct it to lay fast hold upon the divinity of Christ, that we may attain to perfection of character. {DA 123.3}

And how this is accomplished, Christ has shown us. By what means did He overcome in the conflict with Satan? By the word of God. Only by the word could He resist temptation. “It is written,” He said. And unto us are given “exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” 2 Peter 1:4. Every promise in God’s word is ours. “By every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” are we to live. When assailed by temptation, look not to circumstances or to the weakness of self, but to the power of the word. All its strength is yours. “Thy word,” says the psalmist, “have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee.” “By the word of Thy lips I have kept me from the paths of the destroyer.” Psalm 119:11; 17:4. {DA 123.4}

 

Christ has made every provision for the sanctification of His Church. He has made abundant provision for every soul to have such grace and strength that he will be more than a conqueror in the warfare against sin. The Saviour is wounded afresh and put to open shame when His people pay no heed to His word. He came to this world and lived a sinless life, that in His power His people might also live lives of sinlessness. He desires them by practicing the principles of truth to show to the world that God’s grace has power to sanctify the heart.” {RH April 1, 1902, par. 8}

 

Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. Matthew 5:48. {AG 230.1}

When God gave His Son to the world, He made it possible for men and women to be perfect by the use of every capability of their beings to the glory of God. In Christ He gave to them the riches of His grace, and a knowledge of His will. As they would empty themselves of self, and learn to walk in humility, leaning on God for guidance, men would be enabled to fulfill God’s high purpose for them. {AG 230.2}

“Perfection of character is based upon that which Christ is to us. If we have constant dependence on the merits of our Saviour, and walk in His footsteps, we shall be like Him, pure and undefiled. {AG 230.3}

Our Saviour does not require impossibilities of any soul. He expects nothing of His disciples that He is not willing to give them grace and strength to perform. He would not call upon them to be perfect if He had not at His command every perfection of grace to bestow on the ones upon whom He would confer so high and holy a privilege.... {AG 230.4}

“Our work is to strive to attain in our sphere of action the perfection that Christ in His life on the earth attained in every phase of character. He is our example. In all things we are to strive to honor God in character.... We are to be wholly dependent on the power that He has promised to give us. {AG 230.5}

Jesus revealed no qualities, and exercised no powers, that men may not have through faith in Him. His perfect humanity is that which all His followers may possess, if they will be in subjection to God as He was. {AG 230.6}

“Our Saviour is a Saviour for the perfection of the whole man. He is not the God of part of the being only. The grace of Christ works to the disciplining of the whole human fabric. He made all. He has redeemed all. He has made the mind, the strength, the body as well as the soul, partaker of the divine nature, and all is His purchased possession. He must be served with the whole mind, heart, soul, and strength. Then the Lord will be glorified in His saints in even the common, temporal things with which they are connected. “Holiness unto the Lord” will be in the inscription placed upon them.” {AG 230.7}

 

Be ambitious, for the Master’s glory, to cultivate every grace of character. In every phase of your character building you are to please God. This you may do; for Enoch pleased Him though living in a degenerate age. And there are Enochs in this our day.” {COL 332.1}

 

Character Maturity:

 

Revelation 7:2,3 And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea,

Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.

 

Of the Spirit Jesus said, “He shall glorify Me.” The Saviour came to glorify the Father by the demonstration of His love; so the Spirit was to glorify Christ by revealing His grace to the world. The very image of God is to be reproduced in humanity. The honor of God, the honor of Christ, is involved in the perfection of the character of His people.” {DA 671.3}

 

The grace of Christ must mold the entire being, and its triumph will not be complete until the heavenly universe shall witness habitual tenderness of feeling, Christlike love, and holy deeds in the deportment of the children of God.” {TMK 200.5}

 

Everyone who by faith obeys God’s commandments will reach the condition of sinlessness in which Adam lived before his transgression.” {HP 146.5}