Monday, September 25, 2017

My Good WorksRecently a good friend asked if the Bible taught that one’s obedience must be “perfect”?  By “perfect” he was referring to one’s obedience reaching and maintaining 100%.

I know Jesus was perfect, and maintained that perfection.  Although some have claimed that they matched the Lord’s perfection, they have deceived themselves!  John stated, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” 1 John 1:8 (NIV).  Paul stated, “There is no one righteous, not even one . . . all have sinnedRomans 3:10, 23 (NIV).

We know what the Bible teaches, yet we dine upon the devil’s lie!  Do we think we hung with Jesus upon his cross and we are co-saviors with him in purchasing our salvation?  Does the Bible teach us that we are saved by the blood of Jesus as well as by our own blood payment?  Is Jesus blood the 50% down payment on our redemption and our works of obedience the other 50%?  If so, wouldn’t our partial payment need to be just as perfect as Jesus’ blood is?  If Jesus had to be sinless to be our sin sacrifice, why would God accept our payment since we are blemished?

If our obedience is our partial payment to get into heaven, how perfect must that obedience be to merit that reward?  What less percentage can it be and still be considered “perfect” obedience?  If someone was capable of producing and maintaining an obedience that was 99.99% perfect, would it actually be “perfect”?  If perfect obedience is required for one to receive heaven as their reward, it could not mean less than perfect!  All we are capable of producing is less!

Some believe “biblical obedience” must be “perfect”!  For some this means the individual must reach and maintain perfection in obedience as well as the congregation he has joined.  Yet, when questioned about this perfection, advocates define “perfect obedience” as what they presently believe and practice, which is different from the true definition.  Has any congregation reached and maintained “perfect obedience”?  John and Paul say, “No.” Who should we believe?

If no one reaches “perfect obedience,” how could anyone be in fellowship with God, much less enter heaven?  The “Way” spoken of by Luke would be surrounded with an impenetrable barrier that you and I could never cross.

Some will also wed “perfect knowledge” with “perfect obedience.”  How perfect must one’s knowledge be to possess the perfect kind?  If one must understand God’s truth perfectly, what does that mean?  When the eunuch was immersed by Philip was his knowledge perfect or incomplete?  If lacking in perfection, was he actually saved?  He knew about Jesus and wanted to be immersed.  Yet, that’s all he carried to Ethiopia with him after leaving Philip.  He did not carry the King James nor “A Muscle And A Shovel” with him.

If one was a member of the Corinthian congregation two months before Paul’s letter arrived, would that congregation possess perfect knowledge?  They had inspired prophets, tongue speakers, interpreters, and other Spirit lead individuals.  Yet, they needed an inspired apostle’s instruction.  That need proved they were short on possessing “perfect knowledge”?  If a congregation is short on perfect knowledge, wouldn’t it be impossible to possess “perfect obedience”?  If one was without “perfect obedience,” wouldn’t that mean they were no longer in God’s grace because of that shortage?  Were they no longer a true church of God?  Were they just an apostate or false one?  Did they reclaim “perfect obedience” by the time the second letter arrived, or were they short of perfection even then?

How perfect is your obedience?  How perfect is your faithfulness?  How perfect is your knowledge?  If your knowledge is not perfect, how can you have perfect obedience?  If you do not have perfect obedience, how can you be considered faithful?  How many have given up because they could never succeed in being perfect?  How many lived with guilt day after day because their lack of perfection robbed them of all joy in Christ Jesus?  The devil’s deception reached out from Eden to convince them that heaven was just a tree limb away!  Perfect obedience was the price for a taste!

My salvation and joy is in what Jesus did for me upon the cross.  He paid my debt.  He gave me that abundant life!  My faith, trust, hope, and dependence is in Christ Jesus.  Why look elsewhere?

Is perfect obedience essential?  Yes, and Jesus lived it in order to be our sin payment.  He did what we could not do.  It is by his stripes we are healed, not by our sweat!  My obedience will never be perfect, but God knew it.  That’s why He sent His Word to become flesh and live among mankind!  My Savior came from heaven.  He wants your obedience, but he knows it will not be perfect.  He did not come to seek perfect people, but broken ones.  He came to save sinners.  His name is Jesus.  Do you know him?  I hope so!