As mentioned in the article The Sacrifice of Jesus and the Restoration of Mankind, Jesus came to restore mankind by fulfilling the law and shedding His blood for our sins. Only Jesus could do this, because He is God – and it was purposed from the foundation of the world that He would raise His sons through His own sacrifice – one that not only forgives sins, but also has the power to change our natures into that of Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, “It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.”
You can read more about The Comforter, which is the Holy Spirit, in the Book of John Chapters 14-16. The Holy Spirit is our connection with God. Through the shedding of His blood, the Spirit of God, also called the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, and the Comforter was made available to people of all nations. It is the Holy Spirit that renews our spirit so that we are no longer conformed to this world, but to that of the Kingdom of God.
How we receive the Holy Spirit, what happens, and how we walk after the Spirit will be covered in fuller detail later, but for now it’s important to understand that the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ is not the shedding of His blood for the forgiveness of sins alone, but also so that we may receive the Spirit and be healed from our sins in a real, tangible way.
As Christians, we are promised perfection.
Christians should not yield to sin, meaning we do not take the liberties we have in Christ and use them as a way to justify our wrong-doings. We are given a precious promise, that through Jesus we are to be partakers of the divine nature. We are called to walk “righteously, soberly, and godly in this present world.” That means that today – and every day we live – is the day of salvation. We go from righteousness to a greater righteousness, day by day, year by year until we measure up into the fullness of Christ.
How is perfection possible?
We cannot be perfect. No human alive can be without sin, and indeed none have been. Only Jesus lived a sinless life, and it is only He who can work the righteousness of God in us through the Spirit. All good things in us are given from God, and He is true. If He promised it, it will be. Even so, we must understand that this is not something that happens all at once. As Paul the apostle wrote, it is a race we run to win. We continue in faith, reaching for the high calling in Christ Jesus.
Is perfection required to enter the Kingdom of God?
Rather than thinking that one must be perfect to enter the Kingdom, we should think of this another way. If we are given the Spirit, He will work righteousness in us, purging us of all sin through the course of our lives. To walk after the Spirit is to walk in the Kingdom of God – even now while we yet live on this earth in our fleshly bodies. So, rather than thinking perfection is “required,” the idea is that perfection is “given.”
Another thing to consider is what “perfection” means. Perfection means completion – and in one way or another, we will all reach what God has ordained us to be – so we will all be completed in a sense. For those who are to receive the Kingdom – first in this life then in the age to come – we have to put on Christ because it is a life lived within His divine nature that IS the Kingdom of God. At least at this time. Walking in the divine nature means we do not continue a life of sin – but again, it is only by His power that we are able to resist temptation and live after the Spirit rather than the flesh.
When the Kingdom comes, those who have lived with Christ with His kingdom ruling in their hearts will be those who reign with Christ during His millennial reign. There must be subjects in the Kingdom whom the children of God reign over. These could be Christians in name who did not receive the full truth that they might be saved from sin in a literal sense. God could count them among those who are “dead in Christ” and are raised in the first resurrection. These could also be unbelievers who did not participate in the Christian persecutions through the years and in the last days.
These last ideas are speculation, but I do know that God is merciful, and there will be a populated earth that He and His children rule over, and I believe the millennial reign to be another chance at reaching the divine nature for many.
Again to reiterate, perfection is not required in a strict sense. We should not look at perfection legalistically, but in the spirit which it was given. We are told throughout the Bible many things that will keep us from the Kingdom. Again, we have to first understand what that means in a spiritual sense. If we are not walking after the divine nature of the Spirit in this present world, then we are not walking in the fullness of the Kingdom – and I believe we must walk in the fullness of the kingdom now in order to rule with Christ when the kingdom comes physically.
How do we keep faith when we continue to struggle with sin?
As we strive to reach the divine nature, we can become very frustrated with our sins. We can take some comfort in knowing that our frustrations come from a desire to be pleasing to God, and that means something. God placed that desire in us for a reason, and He will fulfill His promises to us. Just as all things are put under His feet, yet we do not perceive all things as being under His feet, we can declare that sin is also put under our feet, though we do not see it. Understand though, that this does not mean we yield to sin. It means we have faith in His promises, knowing that if He said we will be made perfect, we can count it as good as done.
Even so, we should be looking to Him for healing, and if we have not been given His Holy Spirit, we start by seeking that. But again, this will be done on His time, not ours. Some ask for many years before the Spirit is given (as mentioned earlier, this is a topic that will be covered in more detail later). In any case, we are told that Christ rewards those who seek Him often. How much more when the reward we seek is righteousness? We may not see the change we want as quickly as we’d like, but just as He led His people out of the wilderness when Moses brought them from Egypt, He will lead us out of the wilderness we now walk though spiritually.
Just as Abraham’s faith was counted to Him for righteousness, so does our faith. When we place our faith in the power of the cross – a power to forgive and wholly redeem us from sin – we are counted as righteous before God. Without this, we could not approach God because darkness has no fellowship with Him. Through Jesus, who is our high priest after the order of Melchizedek, we have access to the holiest of holies. Through Christ, though we are yet sinners, we can come to God for forgiveness and healing.
What about grace? Doesn’t that mean we are forgiven even if we continue in sin?
Do we take the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, and use His grace as a scapegoat for sin? Absolutely not.
Christians should strive to enter in at the straight and narrow gait, which is only possible by the Holy Spirit working in us, perfecting us. God is not fooled when we use the cross as a cop out for sin or think we will live like we want to and repent at the last minute. God can grant mercy to whomever He pleases on whatever grounds He pleases, but to refuse so great a gift as the sacrifice of the Lord himself – a sacrifice that not only promises to forgive sin but give us the Holy Spirit so that we can be freed from sin is not something a child of God would do.
What about faith? Isn’t faith that Jesus is the son of God who was sacrificed for our sins and resurrected enough?
We are told in the book of James that faith without works is dead. Real faith in Christ leads to something tangible (an idea we will explore in further detail another time). When we continue living as the rest of the world, and we do not put our faith in the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus, then we demonstrate that we have a dead faith. Since it is our faith that counts us as righteous before God, dead faith is not something we want.
Consider the glorious promise of perfection!
To wrap this up, I want you to consider what the promise of perfection really means for you. How wonderful would it be to find freedom from the heavy chains of sin? Addictions, depression, unhealthy relationships, discontentment, traumatic wounds that affect our ability to love and live fully – whatever darkness rules your life – there is real freedom in Jesus.
The freedom from sin Christ promises is the best liberty in Christ we can experience. That alone is wonderful, but we have so much more. Not only do we get to walk a life of freedom now – a kind of freedom that is more amazing than any other freedom we can imagine – we also have the promise of release from death. Freedom from sin means freedom from death – both a dead life now, and the eternal death that we all deserve as a fair wage for our sin. We get to live forever with God, as joint heirs with Christ for eternity!