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QUESTION: How can a sinner be perfect?

 

ANSWER:  We have hit this from several angles over the last couple of weeks, but it’s important.  Please carefully read the following from Scripture: “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin” (Hebrews 10:10-18).

 

Three times in this portion of Scripture alone the writer emphasizes that Jesus’ one sacrifice was sufficient for all people (verses 10, 12, & 14).  And what is the result? Our Heavenly Father says, “And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.  Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.”  Friend, no more needs to be done.  In fact, no more can be done! The Bible message is that Jesus did it all.

 

Check out verse 14 again, “For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.  Notice the verb “hath perfected.”  The tense is correctly translated as a completed action accomplished in the past.  It is not speaking of something that will occur in the future.  Rather today, right now, this very moment the child of God is “perfect.”  In fact, as a perfect tense verb it stresses the continuance of the completed action. God sees the child of God as perfect right now.

 

As hard as that is to believe, it is clearly what the Bible teaches.  How is this possible?  It is because God is talking about our status, not our state.  All people are in a state of sin.  But because of Jesus, believers have been given the status of “saint.”  That is what being justified by faith means.  To be justified means that God has declared us righteous or perfect based on the finished work of Christ on the cross.  Therefore, believers are now saints in God’s sight (cf. 2 Cor 1:1; Eph 1:1; Philip 1:1).

 

We do not earn the status of saint in these latter days through personal effort or having miracles ascribed to us, but rather we are declared saints by placing all of our hope in what Jesus has already done for us.  In that respect Jesus is our substitute.  His work, although certainly a great example to us, was not accomplished in order to show us what are to “do” but rather to teach us that the work of salvation is already “done.”  We are not to struggle to become perfect but rejoice in knowing that by trusting in the finished work of Christ we can be declared perfect!

 

Reread the first paragraph.  Notice the past tenses that abound in this passage without a future tense in sight.  Christian, you are already perfect in Christ!