September 21, 2018

We are made perfect or complete in Christ alone!

We are made perfect or complete in Christ alone!

Jesus continued His prayer to His Father – “’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. Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.’” (John 17: 22-26) What is the “glory” that Jesus is speaking of in the above verses? The biblical concept of glory is derived from the Hebrew word “kabod” in the Old Testament, and the Greek word “doxa” from the New Testament. The Hebrew word “glory” means weight, heaviness, or worthiness (Pfeiffer 687).

How do we share in Jesus’ glory? Romans teaches us – “Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.” (Rom. 8: 30) After our spiritual birth, which follows putting our trust in what Jesus has done for us, we are progressively transformed into His image through the power of His indwelling Spirit. Paul taught the Corinthians – “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2 Cor. 3: 18)

The sanctifying power which transforms our inner being is found only in God’s Spirit and God’s Word. Through our own efforts of self-discipline we may be able to “act” different at times, but the internal transformation of our hearts and minds is impossible without God’s Spirit and His Word. His Word is like a mirror that we look into. It reveals to us who we “really” are, and who God “really” is. It has been said that we become “like” the god or God we worship. If we impose upon ourselves some religious or moral code, we may act different sometimes. However, the reality of our sinful nature or flesh will continue to dominate us. Sadly, so many religions teach man to be moral, but ignore the reality of our fallen condition.

The Mormon teaching that we accepted Jesus before we are born is not true. We are not spiritually born before we are physically born. We are first a physical being, and have an opportunity for spiritual birth only after we accept the eternal payment that Jesus made for us. The New Age teaching that we are all little “gods,” and just need to awaken the god within us, increases the popular self-delusion of our own “goodness.” The enemy of our souls always wants to take us out of reality, and into many different delusions that “seem” good and right.

A moral code, religious dogma, or our own efforts to make ourselves better people will ultimately leave us in the rags of our own self-righteousness – unable to stand before a Holy God someday. Only in the righteousness of Christ can we stand clean before God. We cannot “perfect” ourselves. The biblical concept of perfection is derived from the Hebrew word “taman” and the Greek word “katartizo,” and means completeness in all details. Consider how amazing the truth about what Jesus has done for us – “For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.” (Heb. 10: 14)

False prophets, apostles, and teachers will always turn your focus away from sufficiency in Jesus Christ to something you need to do yourself. They are chain bearers. Jesus is a chain breaker! They almost always turn people back to practicing some part of the Law of Moses, which has been fulfilled by Christ. There are numerous warnings throughout the New Testament about them. They want people to be able to “measure” their own righteousness. As a Mormon, every year I had to answer a series of questions given to me by Mormon leaders that determined my “worthiness” to go to a Mormon Temple, or “house of God.” However, the Bible clearly says that God does not dwell in temples made by men’s hands. It says in Acts 17: 24, “God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands.”

New Testament believers in Jesus Christ have accepted the New Covenant of grace. However, we must continually “put off” our old fallen natures, and “put on” our new Christ-like natures. Consider Paul’s wise counsel to the Colossians – “Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them. But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.” (Col. 3: 5-11)

RESOURCES:

Pfeiffer, Charles F., Howard F. Vos, and John Rea, eds. Wycliffe Bible Dictionary. Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 1998.

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