Matt 5:48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
We read this verse with confusion and frustration. How can I be perfect like God? This requirement is an impossible task. No person is perfect, nor can any person expect to be perfect.
Perfect: "Being entirely without fault or defect (Flawless) Faithfully reproducing the original Lacking in no essential detail" (Merriam Websters Collegiate Dictionary 10th Edition)
The English concept of "Perfection" is based upon an object or person being entirely without fault. In this lesson we will discover that the Greek concept of perfection is not the equivalent to our English interpretation. Basic Christian thinking has no concept to the correct application of biblical perfection.
The New Testament uses 10 different Greek words (and their variations) to translate the English word "perfect" or "perfection". Three words are of special interest to us, because they provide us with considerable insight into the maturing processes we endure to become "perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect."
The Perfection Goal
The first two words we will examine are Teleioo and Teleios that are the present and past tense usage of the same concept. They are descriptive of the final spiritual goal all Christians must strive to reach.
perfect - teleioo (teleiw=sai tel-i-o'-o/5048); from 5046; to complete, i.e. (literally) accomplish, or (figuratively) consummate (in character): KJV-- consecrate, finish, fulfil, make) perfect.
teleioo- (Thayer Greek/English Lexicon)
1) to make perfect, to complete; to carry through completely, to accomplish, to finish, to bring to an end
2) to complete (perfect)
a) to add what is yet wanting in order to render a thing full
b) to be found perfect
3) to bring to the end (goal) proposed
4) to accomplish; to bring to a close or fulfilment by event; used of the prophecies of the Scriptures
perfect - teleios (te/leion tel'-i-os/5046); from 5056; complete (in various applications of labor, growth, mental and moral character, etc.); neuter (as noun, with 3588) completeness: KJV-- of full age, man, perfect.
teleios- (Thayer Greek/English Lexicon)
1) brought to its end, finished
2) wanting nothing necessary to completeness
4) what is perfect
a) consummate human integrity and virtue
b) used of men, full grown, adult, of full age, mature
Both words have the concept of a person or thing brought to its end, to be finished, to be of full age, mature and complete. A saint of God who has reached into the Teleios perfection is a spiritual adult, of full age, mature, and fully grown.
We think our personal spiritual goal is to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ (self weakness Christ strength/Rom 8:29), and we should because His image is our goal. But, the Teleios Perfection goal is to fill us with all human integrity and virtue.
Let me reiterate; the perfection goal is to fill us with all human integrity and virtue.
The Perfection Process
The last concept we will examine is the Greek word Katartizo. The various shades of meaning found in this word provide clear insight into the process we endure in order to become full of integrity and virtue.
Perfect - katartizo (katarti/zesqe kat-ar-tid'-zo/2675); from 2596 and a derivative of 739; to complete thoroughly, i.e. repair (literally or figuratively) or adjust: KJV-- fit, frame, mend, (make) perfect (-ly join together), prepare, restore.
katartizo- (Thayer Greek/English Lexicon)
to render, that is, to fit, sound, complete
a) to mend (what has been broken or rent), to repair, to complete
b) to fit out, to equip, to put in order, to arrange, to adjust to fit or frame for oneself, to prepare
c) ethically, to strengthen, to perfect, to complete, to make one what he ought to be
Katartizo perfection is not an abstract thought but its a practical process that we continually experience with the Holy Spirit. Our spiritual success is contingent on our openness to the Katartizo process. Since we never arrive at total spiritual completeness, then we must realize that the Katartizo process is the normal spiritual life found in our new nature. This process seems to have three areas of ministry lets examine each area.
It is hard to imagine that we might be Christians who are in need of repair. The function of the Holy Spirit is to repair, mend and heal our spiritual pain and brokenness.
Ps 34:18 The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. (KJV)
Ps 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. (KJV)
Ps 147:3 He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds. (KJV)
We read in the book of Psalms that God is very near those who have a broken heart, because of His desire is to heal our brokenness. The function of the Holy Spirit is to be the constant balm of Gilead (Jer 8:22) to our pain. His goal is to heal, mend, and repair our areas of spiritual brokenness. God is a good shepherd who leads us by still waters in order to restore our souls (Ps 23:1-3).
Lets Picture in our minds a doctor who is working to restore our physical or emotional health. Often the procedures he or she must use will cause us pain and confusion. Many times an infected wound must be surgically opened in order to remove the infection. This process could be time consuming and painful, but its necessary in order to facilitate our healing.
Lets now apply this analogy to the working of the Holy Spirit. Much of our spiritual brokenness and sickness is self inflicted through our ignorance, self will, and sin. In order to repair our spiritual brokenness the Holy Spirit must expose these faults in us.
James 5:16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. (KJV)
Gal 6:1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. (KJV)
Only through honest confession not acknowledgement can we hope to be healed of these faults. Our secret faults and sins are like spiritual cankerworms, caterpillers, and palmerworms that eat away at our spiritual vitality(Joel 2:25). The Holy Spirit must expose these hidden areas in order to repair our spiritually broken walls. We will never arrive at a place that we are not in need of repair and preventative maintenance.
Prov 25:28 He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls. (KJV)
(Thought to Consider: The New Testament gives us a picture of the repairing process when the Greek word of Katartizo is used to describe fisherman repairing their nets.)
The second principle we find in the Katartizo process is the working of the Holy Spirit to equip us to do the work of the ministry.
2 Tim 3:16-17 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: (17) That the man of God may be perfect (equipped NIV), throughly furnished unto all good works. (KJV)
Heb 13:21 Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (KJV)
Heb 13:21 equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. (NIV)
The goal of the Holy Spirit is to equip us with everything that we will need to do Gods work. The Holy Spirit will not equip us with everything we think we need, but only with what we truly need.
We must read between the lines when we consider these thoughts. The Holy Spirit will only equip us to do Gods work not our perceptions of Gods work. Another point we should consider is the possibility that we have a call and placement by God in his work and ministry. The body of Christ is in need of our personal ministry every joint must supply (Eph 4:11-16). We are equipped by the Holy Spirit with every spiritual blessing necessary to do the work of God.
Consider this thought with me. Its possible that much of our spiritual frustration with the ministry is the result of our not abiding in the equipping process? We formulate plans and strategies based upon our human perception of need, but are these plans birth out of the equipping process. Remember, the Holy Spirit equips us with everything to do Gods work.
Remember, we must be repaired and healed before we can be equipped by the Holy Spirit to do Gods work. Our spiritual frustration could also be the result of our desire to move quickly through our spiritual repair in order to be equipped to do the work of the ministry. The Holy Spirit may not agree with our personal spiritual evaluation. We may want to be equipped while the Holy Spirit is still in the process of doing repairs.
To Put in Right Order
Once we accept the fact that we have a calling and ministry in Gods holy work, then we also must accept the fact that God has a divine order that orchestrates His total plan and vision. Part of the Katartizo process is to set our spiritual lives in right order with Gods plan. Consider also with me that fact that the normal human mindset is enmity with God.
Rom 8:6-8 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. (7) Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. (8) So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
We read that the carnal (human flesh) mind is at enmity with God, because the carnal mind will not submit to the law of God since our fallen human nature is completely corrupted with spiritual rebellion. The goal of the Katartizo process is to repair our brokenness and equip us to do Gods work. This can only occur when we yield to the law (divine order) of God and allow the Holy Spirit to carry out these functions. We are put back in right order when we allow the Holy Spirit to crucify our carnal nature.
Its important we understand that our carnal mind is enmity with God. The carnal mind can express itself with an assortment of characteristics and qualities. Christians, by their actions, think that the carnal mind will only express itself with crude and base characteristics. But this ignorant mind-set is very dangerous, because the carnal mind can also be high-minded and noble. The carnal mind is very much alive in the Christian church through its high-minded (self righteous) and noble actions. The high-minded, noble carnal mind is as much at enmity with God and they who are crude and base.
James 4:4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
James taught us that friendship with the world is enmity with God. How much of our church liturgy and ritual is enmity with God? Its difficult fathom the seriousness associated with our yielding to the Katartizo process, since spiritual maturity can only occur when we are in right order with God.
Luke 6:40 The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master. (KJV)
When we ponder this verse we consider only the impossibility that we cannot be like Jesus. How can we be perfect like our master? The Greek word used in this context is Katartizo, and we can be like our master when we allow the Holy Spirit to work in us the Katartizo process.
We are the constant workmanship of the Holy Spirit whose function is to continually keep us in a state of spiritual repair by keeping us in right order with God and our divine calling. The Holy Spirit is also equipping us to do the work of the ministry. Its important we understand that the Katartizo process is not a one time experience, but a continual process through our entire spiritual walk with God.
Eph 4:30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. (KJV)
Gal 2:21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain. (KJV)
When we read that we have been sealed unto the day of redemption, let us realize the Teleios goal manifested through the Katartizo process is the result of this sealing experience. Are we frustrating the grace (Katartizo process) of God by our refusal to submit to the Holy Spirit? Do we grieve the Holy Spirit by our resistance to His work?
There is no doubt about this next simple truth. We will be conformed to the image of our master, but who is our master (self or Christ)?
The New Testament teaches us much concerning the spiritual fruit that will grow out of our yielding to the Katartizo process. Let me list the fruits of spiritual perfection
These fruits are the result of the Katartizo process. As we yield to the work of the Holy Spirit we should slowly notice the emergence of these characteristics found in divine order.
The Teleios goal is to produce in us human integrity and virtue, are the result of these attributes emerging. We become of full age (perfect), spiritual adults when we allow the image of Christ to be reproduced in us through the Katartizo process.
Now we should see that the English concept of perfection is not a true biblical application. True biblical perfection is not a completed flawless product, but its a process we endure in order to become like our true divine master, Jesus Christ. Only at this point can we consider ourselves to be His disciples yielded to the Katartizo process.