II. Holiness: God’s Way Better Than Man’s. 1999, Invictus for "Truth For Today Bible Fellowship. Lafayette, IN.”
The command of the Lord Jesus in
John 5:36, that we should "Search the Scriptures”
can be obeyed with great profit and blessing in connection with these words.
There are strong grammatical reasons for taking this word "search” as imperative,
for the indicative mood rarely, if ever, stands at the beginning of a sentence
without the pronoun or some other word to indicate it. Further, the word "search” here means to
trace or track out, as a dog or a
lion traces out its prey by following the scent. So here it tells us that we
are to trace out this word "be
perfect,” and follow it up and track it out and thus learn its lessons from the
use which the Holy Spirit has made of it.
The word rendered be perfect here
(2 Cor. ), is katartizo; and its lessons may be learned
by noting some of the passages where it occurs. We will put the various English
renderings in capitals, the thicker type.
1. Matt. 4:21
"And going on from
thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his
brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, MENDING their nets.”
Here the word is rendered mending;
and hence, we are taught that, to be perfect, we
are to get mended as to our walk, our
works, and our ways. The verb in 2 Cor. 13:11
is in the passive voice, and means to get
mended, not merely to mend,
as though the action were our own – for we are like the nets, in Matt. 4:21,
and we need
another hand, yea, a Divine hand, to be put forth upon us. He alone can see the
rents and the defects, He alone can see the danger arising to ourselves, from
our habits of thought, our modes of speech, our methods of work; and He alone
can repair what is broken and supply what is lacking, so that we may be fitted
for the use to which He would put us, and for the service in which He would
employ us. Thus mended we
shall "be perfect” in the sense in which the precept is given in 2 Cor. 13:11.
2. Rom. .
Here we read of:
"the vessels of wrath
to (or for) destruction.”
Destruction is all that these
vessels are fitted for, and all that they are fit for. Hence, in the opposite
direction, to be fitted for the work
for which God has, in infinite grace, chosen us, is to be perfect
according to 2 Cor. 13:11. This is the prayer on our
behalf, that by the graces and gifts of the Holy Spirit we may bear faithful
testimony and render faithful service for Christ the Lord. The end of all testimony is the glory of God in Christ,
and if we are fitted for this by "the
Spirit of truth” then we are perfect in the sense of 2 Cor. 13:11.
Do we ask how may we be thus fitted? The answer is, only by fellowship with Christ the Living
Word: only by diligent study of the Scriptures – the written Word: only by
making them the one object of our lives, and having the word of Christ dwelling
richly within us. Thus and thus alone shall we be fitted for His service.
3. 1 Cor. 1:10
"Now I beseech you,
brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that… there be no divisions
among you; but that ye BE-PERFECTELY-JOINED-TOGETHERin the same
Here, the meaning receives
further light. To be perfect means not to be divided, but united. This we shall be if
our one object be Christ and our desire that of Paul when he said, "that I may
know Him” (Phi. ).
It does not refer necessarily to outward unity. This seems to be man’s only
idea of union. The
children of God are "all one in Christ,” and there is no other union or bond of
union. Man makes up his "divisions,” and all within these he considers to be
"united” or "in fellowship.” But none of these barriers can separate, none of
these folds can contain and include the whole "flock of God.” Scattered and
dispersed among all man’s "divisions” will be found the members of the one
Body, and these are perfectly-joined-together
in Christ their head. They are all of "the same mind” as to His glorious
person; they are all of "the same judgment” as to his perfect work. They have
one standing, "found in HIM” (Phil.
3:9); one object, "that I may know
HIM” (Phil. ); and one
blessed hope, to "look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ” … and to be made
like HIM, for He shall at His coming "change our vile body, that it may be made
like unto His glorious body” (Phil. ,21).
4. Gal. 6:1
"Brethren, if a man
be overtaken in a fault, ye who are spiritual, RESTORE such an one in the spirit
of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.”
This tells us that though we are perfect as to our standing in Christ, it is far otherwise with us as to our walk on
earth. Hence this gracious provision for our deepest need: - "He restoreth my
soul”This is the special work of the great Shepherd Himself,
and those who are "spiritual” are graciously permitted, yea, are exhorted, to
walk in His steps in this matter. He restores us – considering ourselves. The
spiritual are to restore us, considering themselves!
How vast the difference. (Psalm 23:3).
Alas! Alas! Where are the
"spiritual”? Where are we to look for them? Where do we see their spiritual
efforts in obeying this precious word? Alas! We say again, they seem to read
this verse as though it were written "If a man be overtaken in a fault, ye who
are righteous judge such an one; spread abroad the sad news; each one tell the
other ‘not to say anything,’ and above all ‘do not say that I told you’; follow
up ‘such an one,’ injure him (not in the spirit of meekness) all you can; don’t
restore him, but cast him out; not
This is how Christians, to-day,
try to "be perfect,” and it is about the only thing in which they do actually
reach "perfection” in the flesh. Yes, it is indeed "in the flesh” and of the
flesh. For it is not the work of "ye who are spiritual.”
Restoration, then, is one of the shades of meaning which this word
has, and a comparison of this with the other passages will help to complete the
picture. God grant that some "spiritual” may be found among us; and if any of us
shall be tried, and be betrayed into some error in doctrine, or some evil in
practice, oh! that some gentle hand may be found to so minister the precious
word of God in the spirit of meekness, that we may be restored.
when we reflect on and contrast the perfectness of the Great Shepherd we would
fain exclaim with David "Let us fall now into the hand of the Lord: for very
great are His mercies: and let me not
fall into the hand of man” (1 Chron. ). For Jehovah my Shepherd is JEHOVAH-ROPHECA, who saith "I am the
Lord that healeth thee,” and of Him we can ever say, "He restoreth my soul.”
5. Heb. 10:5
"A body hast thou PREPARED
me” (lit., didst thou prepare me).
human body of the Lord Jesus was, while perfectely human, specially prepared by
the Holy Ghost: as is plainly stated in Luke , "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee,
and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: wherefore also that holy
ting which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.”
Acceptable sacrifice and service can be
rendered to God only by the preparation power of the Holy Spirit. Only those works are "good works” which "God hath prepared for us to walk in” (Eph. ). There are "wicked
works” (Col. 1:21); and there are "dead works” (Heb. 6:1; ). But only
those are "good” which are wrought by the New nature, and therefore are
"prepared” by God Himself. "The flesh profiteth nothing.” And therefore no eloquence,
no genius, no learning, no wisdom, if it proceeds only from the old nature, is
of any avail. It must be "power from on high” (Acts 1:8, compare Luke ). What a comfort for us to know
that this "power” does not depend on our attainments, but upon God’s grace and
gift; and that the humblest and weakest believer may be useful to God and made
to surpass the greatest human achievements, because it is work for eternity and
not for time.
"The preparations of the heart in
man… is from the LORD” (Prov. 16:1), and he who is thus prepared by the Holy Spirit is perfect
in the sense of 2 Cor. .
6. Heb. 11:3. We read:
"By faith we
understand that the worlds were FRAMEDby the
word of god”
Framed, i.e., were prepared
or constituted. We learn "by faith,” that the
ages and dispensations were before-ordained
and prepared and perfectly-joined-together by the word of God. We also learn
that the things which are seen have their being, not
out of things which do appear. As to the things which are seen, they came into
being not through any theories of evolution, not through any conjectures of
geology. And as to the things that are not seen, through faith in the Divine
testimony we understand and apprehend that all the ages and dispensations and
times and seasons were all prepared
and ordained by God; and made by Him. Neither were prepared by the blind laws
of Nature or the vagaries of chance, but by the will and mandate of Jehovah who
"spake and it was done.”
What we learn from this is that, if our faculties
of soul and body are to be brought into order it must be by the same Divine
Mandate. If our times and seasons and comings and goings are to be reduced to
order it must be by the will and word of Jehovah.
If our ways and works are to be controlled,
not by any natural laws in the spiritual world, but by spiritual laws in the
natural world; not by the opinion of men, but by the word of God, then we are
"perfect” in the sense of 2 Cor. 13:11.
May we, ourselves and our readers
be thus perfected: i.e., may our walk be constantly REPAIRED.
for all our duties by the Holy Spirit.
in Christ and in His truth.
be ever RESTORED by the Great Shepherd who seeks and finds his
for all emergencies, and endued to meet them with "power from on high.”
This is our desire and this is our prayer. This,
too, is the teaching of the Holy Spirit as to our perfection.Never once does He use the word, either in the original or
in the English, to imply any change of the flesh unto spirit, or of the old
nature unto the new, or of any change of heart. Never does He contemplate us as
being in any condition which does not need repairing,
restoring, fitting, or preparing,
and we may bless His holy name that these are the very needs for which He has
so amply provided.
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