Romans 12:1 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.”
The idea of perfection is a commonly misused noun. I find it interesting that the term ‘perfection’ is a noun, I’m not a strong english major but occasionally I like to try and understand a word better. The definition of a noun is a term that is used to identify any of a class of people, places, or things.
So, with the definition of a noun in place, can you think of any person, place, or think that is truly perfect?
I work in the heart field, when we fix a coronary artery we have several different tools by which we can evaluate the vessel prior to an intervention and post-intervention. An intervention is a process of evaluating disease within the vessel and alleviating the disease by use of any number of tools, primarily, stents. Stents are tubular wire meshed devices that once expanded, hold the vessel open to a size close to it’s original form. The most common way of imaging this procedure is by use of live X-ray technology also called fluoroscopy. Often, at or near the end of a procedure the physician will look to another physician for feedback and a nice way they relate their approval is by saying, “perfect”. In other words, we take a quick image of the vessel using contrast and fluoroscopy and then draw a conclusion. Vessels can look pretty good under fluoroscopy, it’s only a 2 dimensional view, but look with more detailed imaging and you see it differently. Another device we use is IVUS, or intravascular Ultrasound. This is a catheter with a small ultrasound crystal built into it that allows us to image inside the vessel. This imaging shows every little flaw, tear, and strut of the stent…if anything is imperfect, IVUS will typically show us. A vessel may look perfect under fluoroscopy, but that perfection is quickly reduced by a more detailed examination.
The way we perceive people, places, or things can be limited by our ability to see them. With a more detailed examination, we find quickly that perfection is a standard that eludes all.
A man in love with a woman may exclaim, “She’s perfect!”, only to find out after marriage that there are several little flaws in the relationship he hadn’t seen before, or just overlooked. A cook may pull a pie out of the oven, the steaming aroma fills the house, the crust is cooked to ‘perfection’, and to all who partake, the adulation is given to the cook who made the ‘perfect’ pie.
We love to use this term I believe because it expresses a degree of admiration that is excessive, thus giving the greatest approval. Unfortunately, if we were to ever experience true perfection, we would be using a word that is now misrepresented. Terms like good, holy, faithful, loving, generous, and so on, they all indicate a condition that is relative in consideration.
If your good, how good are you on the scale of goodness? The number 10 being the greatest level of goodness possible and 0 being not good at all. This scale pattern can be applied to any of these descriptives, and yet we relish the accolades to the point of thinking of ourselves often times higher than we ought.
Romans 12:3 “For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.”
The way to be perceived highly in this world is to conform to the world. The more closely we resemble their highest ideal, the more they affirm your perfection in their eyes.
What is worldly perfection?
Looking or acting as close to a worldy standard as possible. The more you conform, the more you are exalted. You may gain the praises of men and women, you may gain riches because of your ability to conform, but that will be all the praise you ever receive.
Romans 12:3 “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.”
“If you don’t live by the praise of men, you won’t die by their criticism.”Bill Johnson
The standard of perfection the world claims exists is not attained by the strength of mankind. You cannot be perfect if you start out flawed. The knowledge of our fallibility can be a harsh reality for many but it also can be comforting.
Romans 7:18 “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh; for I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.”
If you know you are flawed from the beginning, you won’t place yourself in a position that is unattainable. The world may try to label looks, or personality, or some skill set as perfect, but in reality, it is all based on their perspective.
God’s standard of perfection is different….way different.
Matthew 5:48 “Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”
If we look to the world for the standard of perfection, our search will yield only emptiness. The only standard that is perfect and therefore worth attaining to, is the one God has established. Perfection as Jesus illustrated in the sermon on the mount is an expectation not an alternative.
As the directive stands: If you want to be a part of the Kingdom of God, you must become perfect.
Many have tried, none have proven successful.
The Tabernacle was a place where man came before God and offered up sacrifices for their sins. The sacrifice could never fully atone for sin, all it could really do was be presented as a guilt offering. Today, this would be like committing a serious offense against someone and then going back to apologize. The apology might be accepted but it doesn’t measure up to what you’ve done. The apology can’t take back what you’ve done, it can only soothe over the relationship that had been broken.
Jesus—the perfect sacrifice
Hebrews 9:11-14 “But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh,how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”
The perfection of God is to be without sin or offense. The only possible means to attain this position is to take on the attributes of perfection. Jesus embodies these attributes. The only means by which we can stand before God as our Judge without offense is to receive Christ as our Savior. When we die to who we were, we accept all that He is. His perfection becomes our perfection. We are imputed with a righteousness that is not our own. We can’t earn this righteousness, He already earned it. We can’t prove ourselves worthy of receiving it, He already did that.
All we can do is humbly submit to God, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and repent of our sins. Repenting is like saying sorry and then committing to not offend again….it’s a heart change.
vs. 15 “And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.”
The new covenant is a covenant of grace. Everyone who tried to be perfect under the law failed. Everyone who has accepted the sacrifice of Christ has become acceptable. Just like Jesus, we are called to lay down our lives for Him. Not upon a cross, the sacrifice has already been made, but by our devotion to Him as a people who have crossed over from death to life. We were dead in our sins, all we had to look forward to was eternal separation from God, now we have been Holy in His sight and have been adopted as sons and daughters into His Kingdom.
Believers in Christ don’t see themselves as perfect like the world sees perfection, they see themselves in Christ alone. He becomes their model of perfection and the purpose for life itself. This is a dramatic shift of perspective but it is a position that brings great reward.
If you hear the call of God…don’t delay, there is far too much at stake. This world is winding down, the hope of salvation is at your fingertips, just reach out, He will give Himself to you as well.
You don’t have to be perfect to come to Him, you only need be humble, recognize your imperfection and let Him restore you by His standard.
This is love personified.