Chris' Corner --Sunday, December 26, 2021
As the year draws to a close and another one approaches, we look back and wonder where did it go—and so fast. Reflecting on the past helps us correct mistakes, improve our abilities to do good, fortify our faith, and move forward, striving to perfect ourselves in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Paul said it this way, "Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:12-14).
As long as we live in this world, we will never be sinlessly perfect. This is not the perfection Paul spoke of in this verse. We can be perfect in the sense of being complete and mature. Everything the Holy Spirit gave Paul, he delivered to us as Christians that we might be able to purify and perfect our hearts. Only then will we be presented as perfect in Christ.
Consider the words of Hebrews 2:9-10. "But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone. For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings." Again, "...though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him" (Hebrews 5:8-9).
How is the idea of perfection found in the context of Christ's suffering? Is perfection in Christ only available through suffering? In other words, if suffering on the cross perfected Christ, is suffering required for our own perfection? The Son of God learned obedience by His suffering, becoming the author of salvation to those who obey Him. In turn, we should learn obedience and thus be perfected in our obedience to Him.
Perfection comes by our suffering with Him and our obedience to Him. The apostle Peter said, "Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God" (1 Peter 4:1-2).
The "same mind" refers to our having the same thoughts Christ had in His willingness to obey His Father's will even if it meant suffering death on the cross. After His agonizing prayer, He said, "Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done."
Paul said, we have not yet arrived at this place of sinlessness, but we "press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." While we will never be perfect in the flesh, we keep striving and moving forward with the desire to do right and not sin, we will ultimately be made perfect in Christ in the life that follows this one.
Meanwhile, Paul said our life's work is "casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5). This should become a life’s endeavor—something to think about every day throughout the year.