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090906 The Relentless Pursuit Of Perfection
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090906 The Relentless Pursuit Of Perfection

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A Sermon presented September 6, 2009, at Palm Desert Church of Christ by Dale Wells

A Sermon presented September 6, 2009, at Palm Desert Church of Christ by Dale Wells

Published in: Spiritual

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  • Pharisees: Love those near & dear;hate enemies. Jesus: Show God’s love even to enemies; not even commanded in OT! God loves enemies & sharessun & rain to produce their crops. Since God’s love extends to everyone, we should be a channel of His love by loving all. This love shows that we are God’s sons.
  • Jesus expects better than tax collectors & pagans — a cutting remark for Pharisees!If we are to be righteous, we must be as God is, “perfect,” that is, mature (teleioi). God does not lower His standard to accommodate us.He sets His holiness as our standard. We can never attain this perfection, but it is our goal to allow God to reproduce His standard in us.
  • He’s been where we are & has been tempted in every way, as we are. Unlike us, He was without sin.He is able to sympathize (sympathēsai, lit., “to feel or suffer with”) with our weaknesses. Only One who fully resists temptation can know the extent of its force. The sinless One has a greater capacity for compassion than any of us can have for a fellow sinner.
  • He is the High Priest who meets our need. His character is without blemish. He doesn’t need either sacrifices for Himself or repeated sacrifices for others. His one act of self-offering was definitive and sufficient. His sacrificial offering of Himself once for all (ephapax), makes Him “perfect” for His role in God’s presence where He intercedes for us.
  • Holy living is motivated by a God-fearing faith that does not take lightly what was purchased at so great a cost.
  • Christians are called (eklēthēte) to follow Christ, to emulate His character and conduct.Peter described Christ’s example by quoting from Isa53:9. Completely innocent in both deed and word: no deceit was found in His mouth.
  • Gk archēgos suggests “Leader,” “Originator,” and “Founder” and is almost equivalent to English “Pioneer.” Since we must suffer, so must He if He is to be the kind of leader we need. By having done so, He can give us the help we require.
  • Experience was a form of education before He served His people. Incomprehensible, but true, Incarnation gave the infinitely wise & perfect Son of God the experience to understand human condition. Gk. has play on words in the verbs He learned [emathen] & He suffered [epathen].Whatever your suffering, He understands it, sympathizes, and makes available the “mercy” & “grace” needed to endure it.
  • The word “affliction” (thlipsis) means “distress,” “pressure,” or “trouble” (which Paul had plenty of; 2Co_11:23-29). Christ continues to suffer when Christians suffer for Him. He asked Saul (Paul) on the Damascus Road, “Why do you persecute Me?” (Act_9:4) Since the church is Christ’s body, He is affected when it is affected.
  • Paul’s purpose was to present everyone perfect (teleion, “mature”) in Christ. Paul was interested in believers not remaining spiritual babies (cf. 1Co_3:1-2) but in becoming spiritually mature. Developing maturity in believers took great labor (kopiō) & even struggling (agōnizomenos) or agonizing like an athlete in an arena. The power for this struggle came from Christ (cf. Php_4:13).
  • When we finally see Christ face to face, we will be "without fault." Christ will present believers to His Father without fault and with great joy — joy both for Himself and for them (Heb_12:2; 1Pe_1:8). Here is the greatest theme of victory, the highest note of praise, and the greatest assurancefor the redeemed. In Christ there is hope in victory, which gives believers joy and confidence.
  • Physical changes in Christians await coming of Christ. But we know that when He appears, we’ll be like Him. Pending that,it is already true that everyone who has this hope in Christ purifies himself, just as Christ is pure. We who set hope by faith on the Son of God experience an inward purification as complete as Christ’s own purity. New birth involves a perfect purification from sin.
  • The Greek word thrēskeia (religion) appears 4x NT & two are here (cf. Col_2:18; Act_26:5). God’s emphasis is not on religious ritual but on right living.“Refuse to let the world corrupt us” Gk. aspilon, “spotless”, in contrast with moral filth. Goal is a mature Christian walk & practical holiness.
  • What kind of people should we be? Holy & godly (2Pe_3:11), & make every effort (spoudasate) to be… pure (aspiloi), blameless (amōmētoi), & at peace with Him (cf. Rom_5:1). This is the practical result of the implantation of the divine nature (2Pe_1:4) in the members of God’s family.
  • This requires purification (let us cleanse ourselves), which requires separation (katharisōmen) from everything that contaminates body and spirit. “Body and spirit” refers to the whole person in his external and internal aspects (cf. 2Co_7:5). This is a maturing, growing holiness, an increased Christlikeness (2Co_3:18), a progressive sanctification (not sinless perfection).
  • In LXX “aroma” (euōdia) was used of OT sacrifices. To those who rejected the gospel Paul was like the stench of death in their nostrils. They continued on the path to destruction. But to those who believe, their salvation leads on to glorification. For them the gospel is like the fragrance of life.
  • Concept from the Parable of the Vine and the Branches (Joh_15:1-8). Jesus said, “This is to My Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be My disciples” (Joh_15:8). Gk. “live” (menō) is the same verb used in Joh_15:4 where the NIV translates it “remain.”Here in 1 John, the proof that a person loves God is obedience to His Word.
  • Repeatedly in this letter Paul directly addressed Timothy with personal charges.The content of this charge is that Timothy keep Jesus’ commands with all purity. The “commands” arebroader than any single law. It refers to the entire body of sound teaching Paul had been describing throughout the letter.
  • Pharisees: Love those near & dear;hate enemies. Jesus: Show God’s love even to enemies; not even commanded in OT! God loves enemies & sharessun & rain to produce their crops. Since God’s love extends to everyone, we should be a channel of His love by loving all. This love shows that we are God’s sons.
  • Jesus expects better than tax collectors & pagans — a cutting remark for Pharisees!God Himself is the “standard” of righteousness. If we are to be righteous, we must be as God is, “perfect,” that is, mature (teleioi). God does not lower His standard to accommodate us.Rather, He set forth His absolute holiness as the standard. We can never attain this perfection, but it is our goal to allow God to reproduce His standard in us.
  • But over all these virtues Christians are to put on love. As Paul wrote elsewhere, “The greatest of these is love” (1Co_13:13). In one’s catalog of virtues love should be the cover, because it is of supreme importance and is the perfect bond, holding them all together in perfect unity.
  • In character: Is your character more like Jesus every day?In holiness: Are you corrupted by the world’s values; or are you carrying His values, love & mercy into world.In maturity: Are you growing spiritually?In love: Have you loved God enough to obey him? Are you trying to love others as completely as God loves you?.
  • Transcript

    • 1.
    • 2. Mike Young knows how to pick a car!
    • 3.
    • 4.
    • 5. Matthew 5:43-48 NIV
      "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' (44) But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, (45) that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
    • 6. Matthew 5:43-48 NIV
      (46) If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? (47) And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? (48) Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
    • 7. How can we be perfect?
      In character
      In holiness
      In maturity
      In love
      If the Pharisees aren’t a good example for us, is there anyone who provides an example for us in our relentless pursuit of perfection?
    • 8.
    • 9.
    • 10. Hebrews 4:15 NLT
      This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same temptations we do, yet he did not sin.
    • 11. Hebrews 7:26-27 NLT
      He is the kind of high priest we need because he is holy and blameless, unstained by sin. He has now been set apart from sinners, and he has been given the highest place of honor in heaven. (27) He does not need to offer sacrifices every day like the other high priests. They did this for their own sins first and then for the sins of the people. But Jesus did this once for all when he sacrificed himself on the cross.
    • 12. 1 Peter 1:18-19 NLT
      For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver. (19) He paid for you with the precious lifeblood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God.
    • 13. 1 Peter 2:22 NLT
      He never sinned, and he never deceived anyone.
    • 14. Hebrews 2:10 NLT
      And it was only right that God-who made everything and for whom everything was made-should bring his many children into glory. Through the suffering of Jesus, God made him a perfect leader, one fit to bring them into their salvation.
    • 15. Hebrews 5:7-9 NLT
      While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could deliver him out of death. And God heard his prayers because of his reverence for God. (8) So even though Jesus was God's Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered. (9) In this way, God qualified him as a perfect High Priest, and he became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey him.
    • 16.
    • 17. Colossians 1:24-29 NIV
      Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ's afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. (25) I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness-- (26) the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints.
    • 18. Colossians 1:24-29 NIV
      (27) To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (28) We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. (29) To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.
    • 19. Jude 1:24-25 NIV
      To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy-- (25) to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.
    • 20. 1 John 3:2 NIV
      Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
    • 21.
    • 22. James 1:27 NLT
      Pure and lasting religion in the sight of God our Father means that we must care for orphans and widows in their troubles, and refuse to let the world corrupt us.
    • 23. 2 Peter 3:14 NLT
      And so, dear friends, while you are waiting for these things to happen, make every effort to live a pure and blameless life. And be at peace with God.
    • 24. 2 Corinthians 7:1 NLT
      Because we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit. And let us work toward complete purity because we fear God.
    • 25. 2 Corinthians 2:15 NLT
      Our lives are a fragrance presented by Christ to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those being saved and by those perishing.
    • 26.
    • 27. 1 John 2:5 NLT
      But those who obey God's word really do love him. That is the way to know whether or not we live in him.
    • 28. 1 Timothy 6:13-14 NLT
      And I command you before God, who gives life to all, and before Christ Jesus, who gave a good testimony before Pontius Pilate, (14) that you obey his commands with all purity. Then no one can find fault with you from now until our Lord Jesus Christ returns.
    • 29.
    • 30. Matthew 5:43-48 NIV
      "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' (44) But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, (45) that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
    • 31. Matthew 5:43-48 NIV
      (46) If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? (47) And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? (48) Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
    • 32. Colossians 3:14 NLT
      And the most important piece of clothing you must wear is love. Love is what binds us all together in perfect harmony.
    • 33. 1 John 4:12-18 NLT
      No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love has been brought to full expression through us. ... (16) We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in him. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. (17) And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect.
    • 34. 1 John 4:12-18 NLT
      So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we are like Christ here in this world. (18) Such love has no fear because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of judgment, and this shows that his love has not been perfected in us.
    • 35. Are you relentlessly pursuing perfection?
      In character
      In holiness
      In maturity
      In love
      Are you relentlessly pursuing the perfect example of Jesus?