Saturday, May 20, 2006
The Unseen Truth of Perfection
How can the Bible say, "For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison...?" (2 Cor. 4:17)
Your affliction may not seem momentary. It may seem to you like it's gone on forever. And your affliction may not seem light. It may seem to you to be almost more than you can bear sometimes.
How can the Bible say, "...Momentary, light affliction...?"
I think the answer is in the next verse:
...while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Cor. 4:18
This means that there are realities on this earth which can be seen with our eyes, and these things are temporary. But there are realities beyond those visible realities. And sometimes God gives us a glimpse of these eternal realities, but they can't be seen with our eyes. They are true, but unseen.
Under the New Covenant, God has done many of these unseen things, which we can't see with our eyes, but which God has revealed to us. For example, God has given us a new spirit. 2 Cor. 5:17 says that we are a New Creation, but we can't see that with our eyes. He has given us eternal life, but we can't see that eternal life with our eyes, and so forth. (Though we can see the fruit of that New Creation, and the fruit of that eternal life.)
So with that in mind, let's look at a very profound verse of Scripture, and one that is very neglected by the church. The verse is Heb. 10:14, "For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified."
Do you know that you have been perfected for all time? Let that sink in for just a moment.
Now we don't see that perfection, and that's exactly why we need to believe this eternal truth by faith. And I'm not talking about sinless perfection, as though we don't sin. That's where an understanding of the make-up of man comes in. We need to understand that we are made up of body, soul, and spirit.
Our body is that part of us which is physical of course. Our soul we may say is made up of our mind (thinker), our emotions (feeler), and our will (chooser). Finally, our spirit is the very essence of us. Made in the image of God, we are essentially spirit. Then we have a soul, and live in a body. And it's our spirit which has been made brand new by the new birth. It's our spirit into which the Spirit of God has come to dwell, having become one spirit with us (1 Cor. 6:17).
Before we're born again, our spirit is dead to God and alive to sin. When we're born again, our spirit is dead to sin and alive to God. We now have an inclination in our spirit to love God and hate sin.
It's in our spirit that we are "made perfect". (Heb. 10:14)
When's the last time you heard that preached? It's not likely. And the reason is that we tend to take eternal realities that we can't see and set them aside for temporary realities that we can see. And we walk by sight, instead of faith.
One of the main reasons for this is that we slip into the idea that our righteousness comes from what we do. And so we focus on what we do, to the exclusion of what has already been done in us. Paul writes to the Galatians, however, that this is "another Gospel". The truth is that we are given the gift of righteousness, we are declared righteous by faith in Jesus Christ, and made righteous in our spirits. And it's all by grace. Not something we earn.
Paul makes it clear that if our righteousness came from what we do, then Christ wouldn't have had to die. But, of course, that's not the case.
Have you ever heard someone say that we are "clothed in God's righteousness"? That sounds good, but that's not what the Bible teaches about the New Covenant. Even under the Old Covenant, believers in God were "clothed with God's righteousness". Look at Isaiah 61:10 --
I will rejoice greatly in the LORD, My soul will exult in my God; For He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness...
But something greater has been done by God under the New Covenant. We have actually been made a New Creation, our spirits have been made perfect in Christ, and the righteousness of God has been given to us, and now it is ours. Look at 2 Cor. 5:21 --
For He made Him who knew no sin [to be] sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
That's the eternal reality. And when we realize that we have a new spirit, made righteous by God through grace, and when we realize that Christ is in us, in our spirit, we will be more inclined to walk by that spirit, and not by our flesh. That's why Romans 6:11 tells us to "reckon ourselves" or "choose to believe by faith" that we are dead to sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.
Or as Hebrews puts it, "For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified." If you are a believer, he's talking about you, what God has done in you, by grace.
Walk in that unseen eternal truth. It will change your life. And the afflictions will seem a little more "temporary" and "light".
Listen to "Grace For Life" Radio Program.