The Pursuit of Perfection: Biblical Definition

This article is the first of a follow-up series that God wants me to put together after the article I published called “Understanding Jesus’ Command to Be Perfect.” That article really is an overview of the ideas and concepts behind why God had Jesus command us to be perfect in Matthew 5:48, the understanding that I have obtained on what Biblical perfection really means, and how it is attainable for us as Christians, as well as some responses to rebuttals that some present-day theologians have preached that, may mislead the church slightly.

If you haven’t read that article yet, you’ll likely find the concepts in that article helpful to you as we come into a deeper understanding of what our own pursuit of perfection looks like in our lives.

Today, I’m going to attempt to shed some light on what the Biblical definition of perfection is so that we can have a more thorough understanding of the topic, from which we can more fully understand the concepts we need to pursue our own perfection.

We’re going to dive into my Bible dictionary, which has truly been a wonderful resource for me. Before we do that, I think it’s important that we all have a baseline understanding of the Truths about Biblical perfection.

Basic Pathway & Truths about Biblical Perfection

  1. God, through Jesus, commanded us to be perfect in Matthew 5:48.
  2. Jesus’ life and ministry became God’s image of perfection, in that he gave up his own will to do the will of the Father.
  3. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, where he gave up his life, to complete God’s purpose for his life, you and I can gain access to the same Spirit that led Jesus to complete his purpose and be led into all truth – The Holy Spirit.
  4. If we believe in what God accomplished through Jesus (belief in Jesus), repent of our own way of doing things (our sins), and are baptized for the forgiveness of our sins, we can receive the Holy Spirit from God.
  5. For the remained of our lives after we have willfully made this decision of our own accord, to believe in and follow the example of Jesus, and obediently submit to doing the will of the Father rather than our own will, as led by the Holy Spirit; The Holy Spirit will lead us into all Truth and lead us into the completion of our God-given purpose in life.
  6. Upon completion of that purpose, all things in our life will be finished, and we will have reached our own level of perfection, similar to that which Jesus reached when he sacrificed himself for our ability to receive the Holy Spirit and continue the work that God brought him to the earth to do, through the lives of other people.
  7. It is only through this submission, that we can achieve and therefore complete the command of God as spoken through Jesus to “Be perfect, as [our] heavenly Father is perfect.”

If you have questions about these conclusions (and would like to see Biblical proof of these truths), please read the full-length article on understanding Jesus’ command to be perfect.

Biblical Definition of Perfection

This definition was taken from my Bible Pictoral Dictionary. A summary of thoughts on it comes after the image below and the caption beneath.

IMG_4836
The most common OT term is tamim, whose basic meaning is close to the fundamental and etymological sense of the English word “complete” or “finished”. It is used for the ritually clean victim of sacrifice (Exodus 12:5) and for uprightness of character (Gen 6:9; 17:1; Psalms 119:1). It is applied to the Law, and to God Himself. In the NT the commonest term is “teleios”, an adjective formed from the noun telos, and end. The metaphor involved suggests that perfection is the attainment of the end or aim of being, and is, therefore, a relative term to be understood within its context. Absolute perfection can, therefore, be an attribute of God alone. Hence the explanation of such apparent contradictions as “Philippians 3:12 and 15. So, too, Matthew 5:48, command though it is, involves no impossibility. The Christian is enjoined to fulfill the functions of his being as God fulfills His, and the sermon in which the precept is embedded explains the mode and manner of such attainment. The concept of perfection which has been taught by some theologians and preachers has erred in neglecting the relativity of the term and such clear teaching as that of John (1 John 1:8), James (3:2) and Paul (Phil 3:12).

The Hebrew term closely relates to “complete” or “finished.” The Greek term is derived from the noun for “end.” both of these terms, from two different languages, across different periods of time, seem to point to one being “perfected” when they have reached the end or completed their purpose.

Furthermore, it discusses that the Christian is enjoined to fulfill the functions of his being as God fulfills His. In other words, our job is to fulfill the functions of God through our own vessels (beings), as God is fulfilling His. Or, even more clearly, to follow the guidance of God’s spirit and plans for our lives, as led by the Holy Spirit.

The Importance of Being Led By The Holy Spirit to Perfection

Paul says in Romans 8:14

‘For all those led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons. ‘

Romans 8:14

Jesus’ own words confirm this fact in John 5:19

‘Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, the Son is not able to do anything on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, the Son likewise does these things. ‘

John 5:19

 

Both Paul and Jesus are referring to being led by the Spirit of God. While Jesus doesn’t outwardly speak of the Spirit of God being that which enables him to see and do what the Father is doing, there are many examples in the Bible where he does reference the Holy Spirit.

The best reference to the Holy Spirit being the driving force behind Jesus’ abilities and ministry and purpose is found in Matthew 12:

Matthew references Isaiah’s prophecy being fulfilled through Jesus’ healings from Is 42: 1-4 first:

“…Large crowds followed him, and he healed them all. He warned them not to make him known, so that what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: Here is my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations. He will not argue or shout, and no one will hear his voice in the streets. He will not break a bruised reed, and he will not put out a smoldering wick, until he has led justice to victory. The nations will put their hope in his name.”

Matthew 12:15-21

And Jesus also confirms this himself later in the chapter, when the Pharisees accuse him of driving out demons by Beelzebul (another name of the Devil).

I’m going to quote this differently than normal so I can bold the text properly because this is too important to miss.

‘Then a demon-possessed man who was blind and unable to speak was brought to him. He healed him so that the man could both speak and see. All the crowds were astounded and said, “Could this be the Son of David?” When the Pharisees heard this, they said, “This man drives out demons only by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons.” Knowing their thoughts, he told them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is headed for destruction, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? And if I drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons drive them out? For this reason, they will be your judges. If I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. How can someone enter a strong man’s house and steal his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can plunder his house. Anyone who is not with me is against me, and anyone who does not gather with me scatters. Therefore, I tell you, people will be forgiven every sin and blasphemy, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the one to come.

Matthew 12:22-32

Jesus is clearly pointing to his driving out demons by the Holy Spirit, God’s Spirit. And he is warning them not to blaspheme the Holy Spirit (who is doing the work through Jesus’ vessel), going as far as to say that it won’t be forgiven them in this age or the one to come.

Jesus goes further about the importance of the Holy Spirit when he tells the disciples how they will be led when He is gone (John 14:26) and the early church receives the Holy Spirit after Jesus’ resurrection on the day of Pentecost and was actively being led by the Holy Spirit (Acts chapter 2).

So then, we know that Jesus and Paul are telling us that we are to be led by the Holy Spirit and this is important.

Getting to the Moment of Perfection

If we are to take the Hebrew and Greek root words used for “perfection” at their full understanding as being “complete”, “finished”, or coming to an “end.” it’s best to understand this in terms of Jesus’ own pursuit of “perfection.”

Let’s look at the Hebrew verse discussed for atonement, which is what Jesus truly was for all of us, the lamb that was slain for the atonement of sin.

Most of the English translations that I’ve read use the word “unblemished lamb” for the sacrificial lamb of atonement as you’ll see below in the interlinear Bible.

Screen Shot 2020-05-06 at 4.52.03 PM

But, as the Bible definition suggests, tamim is an adjective and has a more direct definition of “complete” or “sound”. It is derived from the verb “tamam” which means “complete” or “finished”

Screen Shot 2020-05-06 at 5.33.35 PM

Notice the word origin “tamam” above. Here is a look at that definition:

Screen Shot 2020-05-06 at 5.35.17 PM

So then, in looking at Jesus’ own pursuit of perfection, and in knowing what took place as a result of this moment, we can know that Jesus’ ultimate perfection was achieved when he breathed his last breath on the cross and said: “It is finished.”

‘When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished.” Then bowing his head, he gave up his spirit. ‘

John 19:30

It was at this point, that the entire life of Jesus had reached this moment of perfection, where his purpose had been accomplished, and after this accomplishment, Jesus was given all authority on heaven and earth and he gave us a command:

‘Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”’

Matthew 28:18-20

He told us to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything that Jesus commanded us. He also told us that he would be with us always, to the end of the age.

Conclusions

So then the Biblical definition of perfection is a person, who is obediently led by the Holy Spirit, to the pursuit and fulfillment of God’s purpose for their lives, all the way through to the completion of that purpose.

The biblical definition of perfection has already lived once in Jesus and he commanded us to replicate it when he told us to “go and make disciples”. In this, we can complete our own pursuit of perfection and multiply the Glory of God on earth as it is in heaven.

My friends, we already have an example of perfection, we have a command to be it, and Jesus has commanded us to go and make more disciples. If you don’t know what it means to be a disciple of Jesus I wrote an article detailing this that you can read.

Now, it’s decision time. If you haven’t made your own decision to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, and this article has brought you to the moment where you’re ready to make that commitment. All you have to do is say this prayer and you can start your journey today:

“God in heaven, I need you.

I repent of doing things my own way and ask that you would forgive me today.

I believe that your son Jesus died, and he rose from the grave, for the forgiveness of my sins and I ask that you would cover me with the blood of Jesus for the forgiveness of my sins.

Today, I am committing the rest of my life to following your way, that you revealed through your son Jesus. Father please come into my life, renew my spirit, and teach me your ways so that I may walk with you in relationship.

Holy Spirit, please direct the steps of my path and lead me into all truth.

Not only for the promise of eternal salvation, but to bring your Kingdom glory on earth through my life which you have given me.

Thank you Father for creating a way, thank you for your love.

I ask this of you in Jesus’ name – Amen.”

If you prayed that prayer today, please send me an email at harrison@omnisye.com. I’d like to rejoice with you, pray for you, and see if there is anything that I can do to help you on your journey.

God Bless!

If you have made that decision previously, and today this has brought you to a place where you’re ready to fully commit on a deeper level to the purpose of God for your life, congratulations. Please send me an email so that I can pray for you on your journey.

3 thoughts on “The Pursuit of Perfection: Biblical Definition

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s