Be Perfect! Are you kidding?
by Asher Intrater, Director, Tikkun International & Revive Israel
The word teleios in Greek is found 19 times in the New Covenant, and is usually translated as "perfect". It has the same prefix as telescope or telephone, meaning: "far off, at a distance". It means: "end goal, result, consummation, completing a cycle."
"Therefore, be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect!" (Matthew 5:48)
This is from the Sermon on the Mount, where Yeshua teaches about the heart meaning of the Law and about kingdom character qualities. Then He says, "To sum it all up, just be perfect like God." It reminds us of the commandment to "Be holy as I am holy" (Leviticus 19:2).
This is hard for us to grasp because we all know we are not perfect. Yet God calls us to a certain type of spiritual "perfection" in His eyes.
"If you want to be perfect, go sell all you have and give to the poor ... and come follow Me" (Matthew 19:21).
This is Yeshua's concluding instruction to the rich young ruler. Here we get an insight that perfection comes from walking on a pathway. It is following Yeshua on a journey. At the end of the journey, we become like Him. He is perfect. As we are conformed to His image, we become perfected.
"We speak wisdom among those who are perfect" (I Corinthians 2:6).
"... in understanding be perfect" (I Corinthians 14:20).
"... as many as are perfect, be like minded" (Philippians 3:15).
"... to those who are perfect, having their senses trained to discern good and evil" (Hebrews 5:14).
These scriptures are referring to relatively normal believers in this lifetime - those who are mature in faith, and who have an understanding of the word of God, those who have exercised godliness and discipline in their lives.
"... until we all come to unity ... to the perfect man" (Ephesians 4:13).
The work of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers is to equip the saints and build up the body. The final goal is to bring us to unity, wholeness, fullness, and Christlikeness. Perfection is the process of becoming more like the Perfect One.
"... so that we may present every person perfect in Messiah Yeshua" (Colossians 1:28).
"... so that you may be perfect and complete" (Colossians 4:12).
"... that you may be perfect and entire, not lacking anything" (James 1:4).
The goal of discipleship is to become spiritually perfect and complete. That completeness comes from being IN Yeshua. We are complete when we are completely IN Him. Nothing is lacking in us of the character of God and the fruit of the Spirit.
"Anyone who does not offend in word is a perfect man" (James 3:2).
The heart and the mouth are connected by faith. If we are not saying wrong words, then our heart is in the right place.
"Perfect love casts out fear ... whoever fears has not been made perfect in love" (I John 4:18).
Perfection of spirit and soul is to be filled with love and purity; not damaged or distorted by hate or fear. Perfection means being totally motivated by love. Perfection has more to do with our attitude than our achievements.
Perfection is like getting to the end of a road, finishing your race, achieving your goal, getting to your purpose, reaching your destination or fulfilling your destiny. It is simply being the way God originally intended for us to be: created in His image and likeness (Genesis 1:26).
When you set that as your goal, then you already are perfect in heart intention. You just have to keep going. This is what God wants. It is possible. You are already "on the way".
This article was previously published on July 27th 2017 here, on the Revive Israel website, and on August 7th 2017 here on the Kehila News Israel website.
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