Pathway of perfection
On which a God-intended desire becomes an amazing reality.
The Desire for Perfection
We have all desired to live within a perfect world. A world where there is no such word as imperfection. Everyone has heard the phrases: “Well, I’m not perfect” or “The world is a mess.” They are right. Nobody is perfect, including the world us imperfect humans reign in. Yet despite that simple fact, the Bible speaks greatly about perfection. From the first book to the last, let’s walk upon the Pathway of Perfection.
God is Perfect
It all begins with a perfect God. “God’s way is perfect. All the Lord’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection” (Psalm 18:30 NLT). God never has failed, cheated, or caused anyone to fall. In fact, James tells us, “And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, ‘God is tempting me.’ God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else” (James 1:13 NLT). So it would make sense that a perfect God would make perfect people—right? He did. Let’s continue walking the path. This time, to the Garden of Eden.
God Made a Perfect World with Perfect People
I can imagine the scene of this garden many years ago. Genesis says, “Then the Lord planted a garden in Eden in the east, and there he placed the man he had made” (Genesis 2:8 NLT). I can see the “trees that were beautiful and that produced delicious fruit” (Genesis 2:9 NLT). The world, including the garden, was absolutely perfect. It was the way God intended it to be—perfect, just like him. The first two people, Adam and Eve, were also perfect. In fact, the Bible tells us that despite even their nakedness, “they felt no shame” (Genesis 2:25 NLT). They didn’t fight each other, show up late for important events, lie, steal, or anything else. They were sinless. They loved their direct access to God; however, something happened that would change this situation forever—sin.
Sin Separates us from Perfection
“The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it. But the Lord God warned him, ‘You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden—except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die’” (Genesis 2:15-17 NLT). Both Adam and Eve found themselves in the garden one day with an unwanted visitor. Sin enters God’s perfect people in Genesis 3: “The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the Lord God had made. One day he asked the woman, ‘Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?’
‘Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,’ the woman replied. ‘It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, “You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.”’
‘You won’t die!’ the serpent replied to the woman. 'God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.’
The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too. At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves” (Genesis 3:1-7 NLT). Sin is in the world. The world and the people within it is no longer perfect.
The Broken Relationship between God and Man
This is the part of perfection’s path when we find the hardships of people for the first time. It is now when we find the separation between God and man. God blocks the way to the Garden of Eden and a broken relationship between humans and God is sadly occurring. We continue to see this broken relationship throughout the Old Testament. In Exodus, we find the story about Mount Sinai. God told Moses to come up the mountain, and “then the lord told Moses, ‘Go back down and warn the people not to break through the boundaries to see the Lord, or they will die. Even the priests who regularly come near to the Lord must purify themselves so that the Lord does not break out and destroy them’” (Exodus 19:21-22 NLT). This is an idea of what it was like. People didn’t access God for forgiveness by themselves; rather, they relied on a priest to do it for them. We read about sacrifices in the Old Testament. Leviticus 5:6 says, “Then you must bring to the Lord as the penalty for your sin a female from the flock, either a sheep or a goat. This is a sin offering with which the priest will purify you from your sin, making you right with the Lord.” Our perfect God desires us to be right with him, and eventually he made us right with him by a perfect sacrifice.
Jesus Christ Restores our Relationship
In the book of Hebrews we read, “So Christ has now become the High Priest over all good things that have come. He had entered that greater, more perfect Tabernacle in heaven, which was not made by human hands and is not part of this created world. With his own blood—not the blood of goats and calves—he entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever” (Hebrews 9:11-12 NLT). Sin separated us from perfection, but Jesus brought us back. Romans says, “When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners” (Romans 5:6 NLT). But it is up to us to accept that sacrifice Jesus has accomplished for us. I think the well-known verse fits well here from John: “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 NLT). With the sacrifice of Christ comes an invitation to believe; the invitation to believe is an invitation to follow. Christ didn’t die so we would instantly become perfect; rather, we can become perfect one day in heaven.
Our Perfection isn’t Instant, but we try to Make it that Way
This is the problem with perfection today—we want to become perfect right now. We call people who strive for complete excellence perfectionists. Being one of these so-called persons, I can relate to the absolute misery in living a life of a perfectionist. You waste so much energy in trying to get it right that you become stressed, worried, and full of anxiety. Can you relate? Although God is perfect and desires us to avoid sin, he never wants us to become full of anxiety due to a strict life of never-reaching a strongly desired perfection. In fact, when we focus on perfection in that way, it most likely reveals selfishness within us. I like to call this immature perfection. Immature as in too early or not complete. Perhaps this is what Paul was talking about in Galatians when he said, “How foolish can you be? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?” (Galatians 3:3 NLT). The only way to continue on the path toward perfection is to realize you cannot reach it on your own: you need Jesus Christ. Hebrews 2:10 says, “God for whom and through whom everything was made, chose to bring many children into glory. And it was only right that he should make Jesus, through his suffering, a perfect leader, fit to bring them into their salvation.”
I struggle greatly with trying to have an immature perfection in different areas of my life. The truth of the matter is that we all will. The way to overcome it? Focus not on your own efforts. Focus on the one sacrifice Jesus made for you, so perfection can not only become a dream but a reality. Trying to make perfection happen earlier than God desires will never work.
Perfection is Born…in Heaven
The journey of perfection doesn’t end on this earth. Nobody will follow this path and become perfect in this life. It is only in heaven when perfect people and a perfect world will once again exist. Except this time, it will last forever. In the meantime, Hebrews 12:2 says, “We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.” We know our faith will be made perfect in heaven one day. Paul understood the way of perfection greatly, “I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me” (Philippians 3:12 NLT). Perfection will come, but it requires patience. Let us end with this, “You have now come to the assembly of God’s firstborn children, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God himself, who is the judge over all things. You have come to the spirits of the righteous ones in heaven who have now been made perfect” (Hebrews 12:23 NLT emphasis mine).