CHARACTER PERFECTION: IS IT POSSIBLE? (PART ONE)


Everywhere there are hearts crying out for something which they have not. They long for a power that will give them mastery over sin, a power that will deliver them from the bondage of evil, a power that will give health and life and peace.[1]

Satan declared that it was impossible for the sons and daughters of Adam to keep the law of God, and thus charged upon God a lack of wisdom and love.  If they could not keep the law, then there was fault with the Lawgiver.[2]

Christ took humanity and bore the hatred of the world that He might show men and women that they could live without sin.[3]

PERFECTION can really be a very troublesome word and it actually is a troublesome word to some. What does it really mean?  What does it NOT mean? The major reason why we are perplexed about this topic is because we have not fully defined, from the Bible, what perfection actually is. We often assume what is with our finite, distorted mind. When we get the Bible picture from the Scripture, all fears and doubt will vanish and we will see the beautiful truth revealed to sanctify our souls.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE PERFECT?

Of all the books and articles that I have read in regard to perfection of Christian character and Righteousness by Faith, none has given a well explanatory description of this topic than Dr. Dennis Priebe[4], save the writings of Ellen G. White and the Scripture. Dr. Priebe gave a sound and Biblical based definition. Priebe pointed out four types of Perfection which include the following: ABSOLUTE PERFECTION, NATURE PERFECTION, CHARACTER SURRENDER and CHARACTER MATURITY. In this article we will take a look at these four definitions in this present article and their application in later article.

The first definition of perfection is ABSOLUTE PERFECTION.

“For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.” Mal 3:6 (KJV)

“God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” Num 23:19 (KJV)

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” James 1:17 (KJV)

“Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” Heb 13:8 (KJV)

And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.” Heb 1:10-12 (KJV)

From the above quotations, we could clearly see that ABSOLUTE PERFECTION means the Godhead [Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit] can never err. They can never make a mistake based on faulty information. They are not limited to time and space because they created time. In Christ exit all knowledge and wisdom. The Godhead exist outside of time. As Priebe wrote, “absolute perfection is never possible for created beings—not for human beings and not for angels.” Ellen G. White also wrote, “Angelic perfection failed in heaven. Human perfection failed in Eden.”[5]

The second is NATURE PERFECTION.

In order to understand this aspect, we need understand creation. The question may be asked, “How was Man created?”

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” Gen 1:27 (KJV)

“And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.” Gen 1:31 (KJV)

“Man was to bear God’s image, both in outward resemblance and in character. Christ alone is “the express image” (Hebrews 1:3) of the Father; but man was formed in the likeness of God. His nature was in harmony with the will of God His mind was capable of comprehending divine things. His affections were pure; his appetites and passions were under the control of reason. He was holy and happy in bearing the image of God and in perfect obedience to His will.”[6]

What will happen to us at resurrection?

“So also is the resurrection of the dead.  It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption . . . . In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.  For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.”  1 Corinthians 15:42, 52, 53 (KJV)

Thus nature perfection, which involves removal of temptation from within, will occur only at the second coming of Christ. We cannot experience nature perfection before then before the second coming. The only time man ever experienced nature perfection was at Eden before the fall and the only time man will experience it again is at the second coming of Christ.

Another one is CHARACTER SURRENDER.

“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.”  Matthew 22:37 (KJV)

At the moment of conversion, when we surrender our lives completely to Christ, we are counted perfect in Christ. The moment one surrenders his or her life to Christ, in penitence, he or she at that moment is justified and made righteous.

“Through the righteousness of Christ we shall stand before God pardoned, and as though we had never sinned.”[7] Even though we are just beginning our walk with Christ, He accepts our CHARACTER SURRENDER and we are counted perfect in Christ.  Another word for justification is “to be righteous.” When one is regarded righteous such person is perfect so long he remain in that state through the grace of Jesus Christ

The other definition is CHARACTER MATURITY.

The plan of God for us is explicitly stated by Apostle Paul when he writes to the Church of Ephesus:

“Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” Ephesians 4:13 (KJV)

God expects us to grow to maturity. This is His will for all who profess to be Christians and who are waiting patiently to be translated or to be sealed with the seal of the living God on their foreheads.

For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” Heb 5:13-14 (KJV)

“Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection [or Maturity]; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.” Heb 6:1-2 (KJV)

While God is very gracious to give us time to learn and develop, and He counts us perfect during that time of development, He wants us to grow up to full maturity. He even says that we can grow to the stature of the fullness of Christ because Christ is the STANDARD

Priebe says, “CHARACTER MATURITY is simply the ripening of the harvest in the individual life.  We are becoming mature in Christ when we no longer choose to sin against God.”

WHAT CAN GOD ACCOMPLISH IN US?

“Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.”  1 John 3:9 (KJV)

God’s plan is that we do not sin. The new birth makes it possible for us to stop sinning. That is why it is called the “New Birth.” It is not called the Old Birth. Paul wrote, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 2 Cor 5:17 When old things are passed away, it means they are dead. When an old man dies, we often say, “he has passed away,” it is in this sense that we are to regard our old life or old man has been passed away (or dead) and we have become a new man because we are “in Christ” and “Christ is in us.”

The Process of Perfection of Character can be explained with this formula:

Christ in—sin out.

Sin in—Christ out.

We cannot have both Christ and sin reigning on the throne of the life at the same time. Christ will not accept a divided heart.  In a mature character, Christ is controlling totally and therefore we are not making rebellious choices. In a divided heart Satan is controlling totally.

In summary, what God REQUIRE from you and I is not absolute perfection because that is solely the character and nature of the Godhead. Neither is He expecting Nature perfection from us, for this is not attained in this part of life until the second coming when Christ makes all things perfect. Presently our nature is sinful and we are living in a sinful world.

God only expects us to surrender our heart and will to Him every moment of our lives that He may make us fully matured unto the stature of the fullness of Christ. This is Possible and it is a must for us to experience now. CHARACTER MATURITY is the STANDARD for all humanity to ATTAIN before they can receive the mark or seal of God. We must have it before Probation closes on us.

In Part 2 of the article, we will continue to see how we can daily gain the victory and live a perfect Christian life to the glory of God.

[1] E. G. White, The Ministry of Healing, p. 143.

[2] E. G. White, Signs of the Times, Jan. 16, 1896.

[3] E. G. White, The Upward Look, p. 303.

[4] For more information about Elder dennis Priebe visit his website; http://www.dennispriebe.com/new/

[5] E. G. White, Our High Calling, p. 45.

[6] E. G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets, 45.

[7] E. G. White, SDA Bible Commentary, Vol. 5, p.1142. 5.

One thought on “CHARACTER PERFECTION: IS IT POSSIBLE? (PART ONE)

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 )

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Google+ photo

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

Connecting to %s