“Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth (John 17:17).”
‘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 4:18).’
“Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect (Matthew 5:48).”’
The ultimate destiny of the saints, i.e., those called by God (1 Corinthians 1:9; Jude 1:1), is to dwell with Him in His new and perfect earth (Revelation 21:1).
Their transformation (2 Corinthians 5:17) from being sons of Adam into sons of God (John 1:12), takes place at the moment of their new birth, through the power of the Holy Spirit (John 3:3-8). Having been made perfect (1 John 2:5) in Him, they will live with Him for ever in His perfection.
Although made perfect at that point in time of new birth, the lives they live are far from perfect, for they continue to sin (cf. 1 John 1:8, 9). They will never live perfectly until they have been raised from the dead, when they will be like Christ (3:2). Only then will their total transformation have taken place. They will exist in the new *reality of a new life with their new spiritual bodies (1 Corinthians 15:44).
From the moment of being born again of the Spirit, Christians embark on a journey of progressive sanctification. They are spiritual babes who are limited by the encumbrance of their flesh. Having entered the realm of the spiritual kingdom of God, they endeavour to live under the kingship of Christ, while physically living in a cursed world (Genesis 3:17).
When in this state, Paul the Apostle said of himself, ‘Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:12-14).’
Paul’s desire was to be perfect (Matthew 5:48) like Christ. He set us an example of how to live under His kingship. He said, ‘Imitate me, just as I imitate Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1),’ and ‘Therefore I urge you, imitate me (4:16).’
Paul did not shy away from the fact that he sinned, and he was an imperfect example. For him Christ was the example, but he [Paul] was the attainable example. Unlike Christ, Paul was born a sinner (Romans 3:23) – Christ was born without sin (Hebrews 4:15), and He never sinned (cf. John 8:46).
God’s word clearly acknowledges that believers sin, and if they confess their sin and repent, God forgives them (1 John 1:9). Thus, although they are seen by God as being perfect in His Son from the time of their new birth, it’s patently obvious they are not perfect, for as long as they are in their earthly bodies. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak (Matthew 26:41; cf. Galatians 5:17).
Jesus commanded people to be perfect (Matthew 5:48), while knowing He was the only perfect Man who would ever walk the face of the earth. [Note: God made Adam ‘good’ (Genesis 1:31), and He made him in ‘His own image (v.27), but he sinned (3:6), and therefore he was not perfect.]
Unlike us, Jesus was both God and Man, and hence His perfection. By giving us this command to ‘be perfect,’ it would seem He was commanding the impossible, but He made it possible through the sacrifice of Himself. He died and paid the penalty for our sins, wiping them clean; and thus He confers to us His perfection. We are sanctified in Christ.
But only through faith, and by God’s grace (Ephesians 2:8), can we enter into that state of perfect sanctification.
*The Reality of Now