Let us go on to Perfection?
"Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ,
let us go on to perfection, not laying again
the foundation of repentance from dead works
and of faith toward God,
of the teaching of immersions, of laying on of hands,
of resurrection of the dead and of eternal judgment.
And this we will do if God permits," Hebrews 6'1-3.
Whenever the topic of perfection comes up among Believers it usually produces comments like "No-one is perfect" and "We're not meant to be perfect".
The thinking is that for someone alive today perfection is impossible. But is the writer of the letter to the Hebrew Believers really urging them to strive to be perfect when he said, "... let us go on to perfection ..."?
The answer from the context of the letter, not to mention the New Covenant, has to be "No!".
Misreading the context only hinders Believers from receiving understanding from the Lord. But just think about this:
"For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified".
(More on being sanctified later.)
This Hebrews 10'14 scripture is quite clear. He has perfected us forever! The Lord has achieved perfection on behalf of those who are saved. All we are called to do is accept it!
To understand what "let us go on to perfection" refers to, this crucial phrase has to be considered: "... this we will do if God permits".
The point to keep in mind is that this letter writer understands that he is being led by the Holy Spirit.
He shows this clearly in chapter 10 verse 15, saying, "... the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us ..." (present tense).
He is speaking like a teacher who has a sequence of topics in his mind that his readers need to hear. And the next subject to go on to teach "perfection".
Because he is sensitive to the Holy Spirit he says what a Believer today might say "God willing". He says, "... if God permits".
He does not take the Spirit's leading for granted. God may want to him to teach something else and leave "perfection".
This writer's way of Holy Spirit-led teaching (of what Christ is in comparison to the Law) began at verse 1 of chapter 1 until chapter 5 verse 6. There he began to teach about Melchizedek.
But he had to stop (at chapter 5 verse 11) for a Spirit-led interruption in order to exhort, rebuke and encourage these Believers. It continues to chapter 6 verse 3.
"... you have become dull of hearing.
For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.
For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe.
But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil".
He continued by adding: "Therefore,
leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,
of the doctrine of immersions, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.
And this we will do if God permits".
This last remark reveals that he did not want to simply push on just because "perfection" was next in order. Hence, he says, "if God permits".
Permission granted! God did permit him. The teaching about Melchizedek that he had begun (at 5'6) and broke off (at 5'11) he restarted (at 6'20).
At chapter 7 verse 11 he goes on to teaching perfection in chapter 7'11. There he says:
"... if perfection were through the Levitical priesthood
(for under it the people received the law),
what further need was there that another priest should rise according to the order of Melchizedek,
and not be called according to the order of Aaron?".
The law was limited. Most importantly, that sacrifices made by the High Priest could not achieve perfection for anyone.
"... for the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God" (7'19).
The writer to the Hebrews conveyed this truth from the Spirit to all Believers:
"By one offering
He has perfected forever
those who are being sanctified," Hebrews 10'14.
Being sanctified is the process of being transformed into the image of Christ. God began sanctifying Jesus' Called-Out Ones into the likeness of His Son right from the day they received Him.
2 Corinthians 3'18 sums up the way the sanctifying happens:
"... we all, with unveiled face,
beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord,
are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory,
just as by the Spirit of the Lord".
"Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely;
and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless
at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,"
1 Thessalonians 5'23.
NO MORE STRIVING
In Christ there is no more uncertainty as to whether or not we are to strive to be perfect - to "go on to perfection".
But even if we were, how would does a Believer know exactly what to do to achieve it?
And, what's more, how would a Believer know when God granted His permission to "go on".
Would our heavenly Father put His Children in such uncertainty and confusion? Of course not!
Let us rejoice! Let us not fall into the religious striving the Galatians were tempted with:
"Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?” Galatians 3'3.
Of course not!
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for perfection and sanctification in Christ. Thank you, too, for the marvellous understandings that this wonderful letter conveys.
In Jesus' name. Amen.