November 18, 2010

The Aspiration of Perfection

Ps. 119:1 “Blessed are the perfect in the way, who walk in the Torah of יהוה!”
Mat. 5:48 “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”

Matthew 5 has become one of my favorite pieces of Scripture. Or maybe it’s just that most of the verses which I have attempted to memorize have come from this chapter. I have never been sure why this “Sermon on the Mount” has been so attractive to me; maybe because of its correctional, semi-reproving, semi-perfectionist aspect. :-)

After using Matthew 5:48 to reference my desire for perfection in a blog post, I began to think more thoroughly about this verse. I mean after all, Yahshua *did* say it. In Genesis, so did His Father, when speaking to Abram:

Gen. 17:1 “And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, YHVH appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty El; walk before me, and be thou perfect.”

I have come to the conclusion that, despite what many people would like to think, Yahshua was (is), in fact, a perfectionist. He was. He was intolerant of anyone who, knowing the truth, chose to do otherwise- or worse, taught others to do so (Matt. 5:19, 7:21-27, 23, Luke 11:27-54, 24:25). He did become- righteously- angry when things weren’t done right (Matt. 21:12-13, Mk. 11:15-19); and seemed to get aggravated when He had to explain- again- what to Him was elementary (Matt. 16:9&11, 15:17, Mk. 8:17&21, Jn.8:43).

Granted, He truly was (is) perfect… and I’m not. So my human version of perfectionism- that my way is the only “right” way- is incorrect (Shh! don’t tell my siblings that.) because “my” way is automatically *of* the flesh (Rom. 7). But if Yahshua thought this way, He would have been correct, because there is no other way but His way, because His way is YHVH’s way is the Torah- and Yahshua is the Torah *made* flesh (John 1:1-4, 1:14, Matt. 7:14).

In Matthew 26:41 and Mark 14:38, Yahshua warns that, being sons of Adam, our “spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” So we need to be aware of temptation, lest we are led to destruction by it. We are automatically bound by the flesh to some degree, because we live in bodies made of flesh (Rom. 7:18). We are all sinful by nature, being children of sinners (Rom. 5:12-14). But by the same token, we wouldn’t *realize* that we were sinful natured if we didn’t have the Torah to tell us what not to do (Rom. 3:20).
So… we are still required to die to our flesh daily and work towards the “perfection of holiness” (Rom 8:8-14, 2 Cor. 7:1), because as believers we are to walk in the spirit of YHVH and not in the flesh of man’s desire (Gal. 5:16-6:8, 2:20, 2 Cor. 10:3). In other words… in daily trying to align myself with Torah, I am to try to become like my Father in Heaven- who is perfect, because that is what YHVH's Torah tells me to do.

In looking at scripture from this perspective- that as believers we are required to work towards “perfection in Torah”- I have been shown that when Yahshua comes back at the end of this age to reign on Earth from Jerusalem, His job is to cleanse us and teach us Torah. This in itself may be nothing new, but I have seen it in a different light. Malachi 3:1-4 says,
“See, I am sending My messenger, and he shall prepare the way before Me. Then suddenly the Master you are seeking comes to His temple, even the Messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight. See, He is coming,” said יהוה of hosts. And who is able to bear the day of His coming, and who is able to stand when He appears? For He is like the fire of a refiner, and like the soap of a launderer. And He shall sit as a refiner and a cleanser of silver. And He shall cleanse the sons of Lĕwi, and refine them as gold and silver, and they shall belong to יהוה, bringing near an offering in righteousness. Then shall the offering of Yehudah and Yerushalayim be pleasant to יהוה, as in the days of old, as in former years.”
While many will agree that Yahshua will teach us YHVH’s Word, most of us (including me) have had this “instantaneous” thought in our head, that at some point, in whatever manner, “those who remain shall be changed in a moment” as Sandi Patty sings it. Kind of like the rapture thing- we won’t even remember because it all happens in the blink of an eye. As I have found (in both cases) this simply isn’t true. It is a process; we have to work at it. If you read the whole chapter of Malachi 3, there is so much else continuing in this train of thought, and relating to the subject of Yahshua’s reign. But my point is contained in verse two specifically. Yahshua will be as the fire of a refiner, and like the soap of a launderer. Both of which are a process.

Any fire takes time to cleanse. A refiner’s fire slowly heats and liquefies metal so that the impurities separate and rise to the top. The refiner then skims off the dross (impurities), lets the metal cool, and starts over again; doing this until the metal is pure. Washing laundry is similar. You rinse and scrub the clothes in hot soapy water, then scrub…and scrub…and scrub- until the garment is clean (or at least your washer does something similar). When the clothes seem clean we dry them, and if needed wash them again, until they are fully clean and wearable. This is like what Yahshua will do with us when He comes. In learning from the Word of YHVH how to correctly obey the Word of YHVH we will- over the process of time- become “perfect in the way” (Ps. 119:1).

Okay, so for clarification purposes, what exactly is perfection? Well, “perfect” in Webster’s Dictionary basically means, “sinless, without fault/mistake.” The biblical definition of “perfect” is being holy (set-apart) for YHVH, and in complete obedience of the Torah (YHVH’s instructions). So in order to be sinless and without fault we must be in complete obedience to the Torah. We must be set-apart as YHVH is set-apart (Lev. 11:44-45, 19:2, 20:7&26, Num. 15:37-41, Matt. 5:48, 1Pet. 1:15-16), as Noah, Job, or David, seeking after YHVH’s heart (Gen. 6:8-9, Job 1:1&8, 1Ki 11:5, Acts 13:22).

[For more on the topic of set-apartness, see my post, “A Word Study on Holiness.” –Can be found in sidebar under “Blog Posts of Note.”]

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