Biblical Perfection – By Peter Wiseman

Chapter 4

Perfection That Is Biblical (B)

Perfection of Heart

David’s charge to his son was, “Thou Solomon, my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind; for the Lord searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek Him, He will be found of thee; but if thou forsake Him, He will cast thee off for ever.” The closing statement at the dedication of the temple was, “Let your heart therefore be perfect with the Lord your God, to walk in His statutes, and to keep His commandments, as at this day” (I Kings 8:61). In II Chron. i6:9, we read, “the eyes

of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him.”

These passages clearly indicate that the Divine requirement even of old was perfection of heart. The last passage quoted reveals the search of God, and, as a consequence the concern of God, for that higher type of character, the person “whose heart is perfect toward God,” as a medium through which He could show His strength. In the light of this dispensation, when a pure heart is possible experientially in a greater sense than in the old dispensation, this text has a vital lesson. Our Lord said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matt. 5:8). To those who argue that a “pure heart” is impossible, we would say, surely the Lord would not declare a people blessed who did not exist!

Pathologically the heart is the fountain of life through which the blood passes to be distributed into every part of our being. Spiritually our religion must be measured by the condition of our heart. People may be better or worse than their theology but not so respecting their heart. The difference is this: Theology has to do with the theory or doctrine; religion with heart relationship to God. It is essentially a life.

Physically, if the heart is bad, the condition is serious. Spiritually, if the heart is bad the condition is more serious. Jesus says, “out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: all these evil things come from within, and defile the man.” Under inspiration, the prophet of God says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked” (Jer. 17:9).

There is a complete cure, and it is “the blood cure.” “The blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son cleanseth us from all sin.”

According to the passage from Chronicles, God searches for “Those whose heart is perfect toward Him” (II Chron. 16:9). Through that perfect heart He will show His strength. A perfect heart is a vessel sanctified and meet for His use (II. Tim. 2:21). Wherever God has found such an heart, He has revealed His strength and power. This is the perfection to be sought.

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Perfection of Faith

“Night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face and perfect that which is lacking in your faith” (I Thess. 3:10).

The idea here is to complete that which is lacking, so that faith may function perfectly; by which is not meant “the gift of faith,” however (I Cor. 12:9), nor “all faith” (I Cor. 13:2); for one may have the “gift of faith” and not have divine love (ch. 13 of I Cor.): but a faith that appropriates the work of heart cleansing and in return functions perfectly. The word suggests quality and fitness rather than completeness. Matt. 4:21, of “mending nets,” making them fit for use; Matt. 21:16, to set in order as in music; I Cor. 1:10, to fit into perfect relationship; Gal. 6:1, to “restore,” to adjust that

which is dislocated. Heb. 11:3, to frame together various parts as in a machine; II. Tim. 3:17, “Artios,” means fitted up to date, “complete may be the man of God, to every good work fitted.”

Unbelief in the heart might have been the trouble with the Thessalonians as with God’s ancient people, for we read, “They could not enter in because of unbelief” (Heb. 3:19).

Unbelief kept the children of Israel out of the land of Canaan. God wanted them to go up at once and possess the land. They said, “We cannot do it.” God said, “Go up.” They said, “We are not able.” They were not able because they would not believe.

Unbelief is a traitorous enemy. It is the root of sin: “Of sin because they believe not in me.” It is a heart condition; “An evil heart of unbelief, departing from the living God” (Heb. 3:12). It is that within that would suspect God, question His ability and willingness to do this or that: “Why do these thoughts arise in your hearts?” Is God not capable of forgiving sins and healing the body? Why do you question Him in your hearts? Why do you question His ability to do this?

Unbelief strikes at the foundation of Christian character. It destroys love because it destroys confidence: “If our heart condemn us.”

Unbelief paralyzes our powers. “They are too much for us. We cannot go up. It is not the time. Circumstances are not favorable. It is no use.” This is the language of unbelief, and this is the way it talks in the unsanctified heart. It is a deadly enemy, and must be destroyed.

Unbelief shrivels the soul. It shrivels our spiritual capacity as well as our ability and power. “I have fed you with milk and not with meat; for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither now are ye able” (I Cor. 3:2). When unbelief is destroyed it is natural for the soul to reach out to greater things, and believe God for them.

“Trusting is like breathing here: Just as easy doubt and fear Vanish in this atmosphere In Beulah land.”

Unbelief is unreasonable; destructive and not constructive. It requires proof where no further proof is needed. It requires a moral impossibility, and, in consequence, is unreasonable. Some person has well said, “Unbelief requires that kind of evidence that makes it impossible to doubt and hence salvation by faith is out of the question for it.”

Unbelief leads to disobedience. It led the children of Israel to tempt God, to lust, to murmur, to merely eat, drink and play.

“Remove this hardness from my heart, This unbelief remove, To me the rest of faith impart, The Sabbath of Thy love.”

Paul was anxious that an adjustment be made in their faith. The grace of sanctification does something to faith. Paul in his letter to the Galatians, after stating that he had been crucified with Christ and that he lived no longer, affirmed: “The life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God” (Gal. 2:20).

“A faith that will not shrink Though pressed by every foe; That will not tremble on the brink Of any earthly woe.

“A faith that shines more bright and clear When tempest rage without; And when in danger knows no fear, In darkness feels no doubt:

“A faith that keeps the narrow way Till life’s last hour is fled; And with a pure and heavenly ray Illumines a dying bed.

“Lord, give us such a faith as this And then whate’er may come, We’ll taste while here the hallowed bliss Of an eternal home.”

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Perfection of Spirit

“Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you. . . resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain … Be ye therefore perfect even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matt. 5:39-48). A “clean heart and a right spirit” go together (Psa. 51:10).

The importance of a right spirit is obvious; the spirit in which one does something is more important than the thing done. In his sermon on “The Extra Mile,” Dr. Samuel Chadwick, says: “Christians are to be known by the things in their life that are in excess of the claims of law, civilization, and duty. Others demand restitution, recognition, and appreciation. The Christian resists not wrong, returns good for evil, and reflects the Divine character in the persistence of unappreciated goodness. These ‘extras’ are the distinguishing marks of Christianity, and declare men to be sons of the Father which is in Heaven. If this is the estimate Christ puts upon these things, no follower of Christ can ignore them, and it is important we should understand and obey them.

“St. Matthew’s Gospel is the Gospel of the Kingdom. The Sermon on the Mount is the manifesto of the King. It first sets forth the character of the citizen, and then proceeds to adjust the old order to the new life. We understand perfectly His treatment of the old law. There He teaches us that obedience to the letter is not enough. Sin is a question of spirit rather than action. Its offense is in the motive, not in the transgression; in the attitude, not in the act. Hatred is murder, a lustful look is adultery, and extravagance of speech is of the Evil One. God judges by the heart. That is clear.

“Then we come to those precepts which are in excess of law, and set forth the Christian’s spirit in social life, and define his attitude to social wrongs. Resist not evil; turn the other cheek to the smiter; submit to injustice rather than go to law; yield to the oppressor even in excess of It is demand; give to the beggar, and to the borrower, lend; love your enemies; pray for persecutors; and do good to the evil and unthankful. Everything short of this is common civility and natural obligation. For those who are sons of God, the way of perfection is in the things that exceed the natural moralities of men, and the common civilities of polite society. It is the extras that make the Christian.” [23]

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Perfection of Will

The will is the moral capital power of the soul. There is such a thing as self-will and it is unlike Christ, for He “pleased not Himself.” It is possible, through the wonderful grace of sanctification, to reach a place where the human will perfectly coincides with the Divine will: “Stand perfect and complete in all the will of God” (Col. 4:12).

“Take my will and make it Thine; It shall be no longer mine. Take myself and I will be Ever, only, all for Thee.”

It is a state where we will what God wills, how He wills it, and when He wills it.

“Sweet will of God, still fold me closer Till I am wholly lost in Thee.”

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Perfection of Unity

“Sanctify them . . . that they all might be one; as Thou Father art in me, and I in Thee, that they also might be one in us; that the world may believe that Thou hast sent me. And the glory which Thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them and Thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know” (John 17:17-23).

“Made perfect in one.” This is a strong statement, but, nevertheless, possible or our blessed Lord would not have prayed thus. The very nature of that perfection is suggested, “As Thou Father art in me and I in Thee that they also may be one in us.”

The same glorious perfection of unity may be seen in the vine and the branches (John 15); the Head and the body made up of members (I Cor. 12).

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Perfection of Word

“If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able to bridle the whole body” (James 3:2).

The words of the sanctified are “Yea, yea; nay, nay”; they are seasoned with grace, and minister grace to the hearers. To put it in the form of an old saying, “Their words are few and well chosen.” They realize that by their words they “shall be justified, and by their words they shall be condemned.” The grace of perfection gives them perfect control, even of the unruly member, the tongue.

The child may be a perfect child, but being a perfect child does not for a moment mean that he is a perfect man; nor does “a perfect man” mean the end of perfection. There are degrees of maturity especially in the word realm.

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Perfection Progressive

It is surely not difficult to understand that a thing may be perfect and yet improbable. Paul in his second letter to the Corinthians, chapter six, verses fourteen to eighteen, says: “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers; for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what Communion hath light with darkness? and what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? and what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God: as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”

By way of a logical conclusion, Paul continues: “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved.” What promises? The promises afore-mentioned and enumerated, namely, what God would do, provided the Corinthians would cease to be unequally yoked together with unbelievers, would be separate, and touch not the unclean thing; then the promises as to what He would do. In view of this, “Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh”: all uncleanness; all sins against the body, the temple of God: “and spirit”; all impure thoughts, impure desires; all unholiness of the inner life: “perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” The twofoldness of cleansing

is clearly inferred here. The human, “Let us cleanse ourselves”; the Divine, “The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin” (I John 1:7). The human, “Sanctify yourselves” (Lev. 11:44; Joshua 3:5); the Divine, “Sanctified by the Holy Ghost” (Rom. 15:16). Here is the human and the Divine: “Ye shall keep my statutes and do them; I am the Lord which sanctify you.”

There is the act of God in making real experientially what the Corinthians did in obedience to God’s command, for the expression, “let us cleanse” is aorist, and thereby denotes something done by a stroke, an accomplished act. But “perfecting” is in the present tense and denotes a present progressive work “in the fear of God.”