GOD’S PERFECTION FOR MAN

I want to know the truth, don’t you? I do not want to live and labor in this life in the work of God and then come down to the end of the way and find out I have missed it. That is a sad predicament. However, there will be multiplied thousands in that category because Jesus said there would be. Matthew 7:21-23, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

I do not want to be in that group, and neither do you. So may God help us to have an open heart and mind and to be honest with ourselves and God. I believe it is possible to know the truth. In John 8:32, Jesus said, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Surely there is a way of knowing. 

2 Peter 1:1-4, “Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” 

Notice in verse 2, the apostle Peter says, “Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus, our Lord.” We all want grace and peace. We desire an abundance of it. Peter tells us it will be multiplied. Things add up much quicker by multiplying than they do by adding. He tells us how we can have grace and peace multiplied. It comes, he said, through the knowledge of God and of Christ. I believe the more we know about God, the greater peace and grace we will have in our hearts to live for Him.

Hebrews 12:6-10, “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.”

God corrects us all along life’s way. He does so for one purpose: that we might be partakers of His holiness. Matthew 5:48, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” 

According to these three scripture texts we presented here, it is possible for mankind to become partakers of the divine nature of God. Also, it is possible for men and women to become partakers of God’s holiness. And finally, we see that it is possible for the soul of man to be made perfect in this life, as God is perfect. 

I know these texts present an experience and standard that frightens people. No doubt some would put their foot on the brake right now. The very idea that a human being, while living in this world, can become a partaker of God’s divine nature is ridiculous in the minds of multitudes of people. The very idea that a man or woman while living on earth can be made as perfect as God is perfect is absurd to a great multitude of people. You cannot preach that it is possible for a man to live without sin without hitting a snag in the religious world. 

The teachings that are going forth in the realms of religion today would want us to believe that Jesus Christ did not accomplish anything while He was here the first time. I am glad to tell you that He did accomplish something. Thank God! He purchased redemption for the soul of man. He brought about deliverance for the man or woman who accepts the truth of Bible salvation. I know it because He gave me deliverance from things I could not get loose from by myself. 

While Christ was here the first time, He established an everlasting kingdom—a kingdom of righteousness and a kingdom of peace. It is dwelling in my heart today; glory be to God! He did accomplish something while He was here. You will never convince me otherwise. Why? I have tasted of those things. Thank God! 

The Bible is spoken of in too many places as a goal or ideal for us to strive towards. It is a lofty, grand ideal, but it is never attainable in this life. So do not expect us to be able to live according to its teachings. It is merely a high standard that we strive for and aim for. That is the general trend, but in John 12:48, Jesus said, “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.” The Bible is the examination paper for every one of us on the last day. We will be judged by the message of the book. 

I read an article written by a professor at a religious university; its title was “The Man God Uses.” The author went on to say that the man that God uses will be marked by certain characteristics, and then he went on to say he realized his own imperfections. Now to that man, God would say exactly what He said through the apostle Paul to the Hebrew Christians in Hebrews 6:1, “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection….” God wants people to be perfect, and then He can use them in a greater way. In Matthew 5:48, Jesus Christ said, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” This makes us realize He meant for them to be perfect right here on earth, just as God, their Father, was in heaven. 

Philippians 3:15, “Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.” Paul understood that some people were perfect in his day. The question comes: What kind of perfection is it? What kind of perfection does the Bible teach? How and when do we partake of it? Is it something we can have in this life? Or is it something that we partake of in death? 

Most people will tell you it means human perfection. However, as long as you are in a physical body, you will never be perfect in your humanity. You will possess deficiencies and a lack of judgment; you will frequently make mistakes or make wrong decisions. You will have deficiency in the flesh as long as you live. 

But there is a perfection that God teaches in His Word. A perfection that involves the inner man or the spiritual man. This perfection changes man’s nature, the heart, and makes it clean, pure and perfect, just as God in heaven is perfect. The Bible teaches us that an experience of full salvation—justification and sanctification, will cleanse the heart, the spirit, the nature, the soul, the mind, and everything there is about a human being and still leave man living with his human errors. Remember, we are twofold beings. In Jude, the 24th verse, Jude said, “Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy.” Thank God for that.

2 Peter 3:14, “Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.”

Revelation 14:1-5, “And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth. These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.”

I say the Bible teaches there is such a thing as perfection. That man can experience perfection in this life, and live without falling from a stage of grace; and he can be presented faultless before the throne of God on that last day, with exceeding joy.

2 Peter 1:4, “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” 

If there ever was a need, that is it: that men and women, right in the church, become partakers of the divine nature. Originally, we did not have a divine nature; we had a nature contrary to the divine nature. This scripture lets us know there are provisions in the plan of salvation through which we can become partakers of the divine nature of God. Evidently, we must have had a sinful nature when we came into the world, or else there would be no provisions in the plan of salvation to give us a divine nature. 

Where and how did we get a sinful nature? According to the teachings of the Bible, God created Adam and Eve in the beginning in the image and likeness of God. That has absolutely no reference to the physical body because God does not have a temporal body. He is a spirit. So, God created the soul or spirit within man in the image of the Holy God. Adam and Eve were holy in nature. While in the Garden of Eden, they walked with God and had sweet communion with their Creator. Everything God created was good. But the time came when Adam and Eve disobeyed the law of God. It broke fellowship with God, and the image of God in Adam and Eve was marred. 

Editor’s Note: The following paragraph gives us a glimpse into the battle the true ministry had in battling the One Work heresy. One of these things was how the proponents of the heresy were straining at gnats by trying to draw distinctions in words that the plain truth easily defeats. The simple truth is that there are but two natures: a divine nature and a sinful nature. The sinful nature is both fallen and perverted. To combat this, the true ministry often must overemphasize certain points of truth.

When man sinned against God, he lost the image of God—the whole image. So much so that God placed a curse on him and drove him out of the garden. He did not lose a greater part of his image; he lost the whole image. I want you to get that point. They [the proponents of One Work heresy] got to the place where some are saying that it is not a sinful nature, just a perverted nature, just a little bit of sin, just a little. Brother, we go as far as the Word of God goes. He lost the whole image, not just a greater part of it. They know better than that. 

It also teaches in the Word of God that Adam’s posterity came into the world in the image of fallen Adam and not in the image of a holy God. Mankind comes into the world with a rebellious nature, a sinful and a polluted nature, when he is born into this world.

Psalms 51:5, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.”

 Psalm 58:3, “The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.”

Ephesians 2:2-3, “Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.”

Those three scriptures still mean exactly what D.S. Warner and his contemporaries and the Church of God ministry down through the years have said they meant. I am still convinced that brother Warner was right. Notwithstanding, some people today have taken other scriptures and twisted them to mean things they were not intended to mean. I am just going to leave them alone. 

2 Peter 1:4, “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” 

As I read that, I am made to realize that we did not have the image of the divine when we came into the world. It is obvious. If we did, this would not be in the Word. If we came into the world with a divine nature, there would be no provisions in the plan of salvation that would give us a change of nature.

Now I want you to hear me right here. We either come into the world with a divine nature or a sinful nature. There is no other kind of nature to have. It is either divine or it is sinful. It is either righteous or it is unrighteous. It is good or it is bad. Jesus said either make the tree good or make it bad. We did not come with a partially divine nature or a sinful nature. There is no other nature you can have.

Think about it: If we are born with a holy nature, then we do not need the new birth; we are born right. In John 3:7, Jesus said, “…Ye must be born again.” This lets us know that is wrong. If we were born with a holy nature, then we would have spiritual life within us and would not need regeneration. Again, if we were born with a holy nature, we would bring up children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and when they reached the age of accountability where they knew right from wrong, they would just choose right and go on and live holy and never need a divine experience of grace in their hearts. But Jesus said. “Except ye be born again.” It must have been wrong the first time! On the strength of the words of Peter, men need a change of nature.

Genesis 1:27, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” I say again, we know this refers to the inner man, not the body we live in. Genesis 5:3, “And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth.”

The divinely inspired Word of God makes a definite, positive statement here. This is after the fall, after the image of God was lost. The Bible plainly lets us know that the posterity of Adam came into this world with a sinful nature. How, then, can parents put up one word of argument against that Bible truth? Children are, by nature, carnal. They are full of rebellion. You might say, “Not my little Johnny!” Oh yes. Children do not have to be taught to do wrong. You do not have to teach them to lie, be selfish, cheat, or be mean. You just tell Johnny “no” and see how he responds. Quite often they will raise right up and throw a little fit. You and I were the same way growing up. We raised right up in rebellion against the law and order in the home. And your children are no different. They may throw a real high-pitched fit of anger and rebellion, and that is when mother and daddy need to use the rod of correction. You can never beat that nature out of them, but you can help them put forth a good effort to hold it in subjection. Honey-coated talk will never do. “Now, honey doll, do not act like that!” You use the rod in the proper way, and you give them something to remember. Listen, they can learn obedience through the things they suffered, just like some other folks learned. 

In Romans chapter 7, Paul said that sin dwelt in him before he knew what sin was. Romans 7:7-9, “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead. For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.”

Get the picture here: Paul did not know what sin was. But it was in him. The law revealed its presence. He said he did not know what sin was until the law came. He said he did not know what lust was except the law came along and said, “Thou shalt not covet.” Before the law or before he had knowledge, Paul was alive spiritually. In other words, he was not charged with sin because of his ignorance of it.

Verse 9: “For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.” What happened? Sin did not come into his heart. It was already there. It was there all along. The word “revived” means to return to consciousness. In other words, he was alive without the law; sin was dead. He would go along with everything that was goody-goody. But the law came along and said, “Thou shalt not covet.” And then he came to the realization of the reality of sin in him, and he died. Sin then regained consciousness. He was no longer innocent. He was chargeable for it from there on. It could not have revived had it not been there. It was in his nature. Consciousness means self-knowledge.

The same as these little children. They do not realize that something is in their heart. They do not know what is making them do what they do. They are yet innocent in God’s eyes. They are not charged with committed sin. But as soon as they get to the age where they know right from wrong and the law registers with them, they die, and that sin then stands right out before them. 

I want to read to you Romans 5:17-18, but I want to do it a little differently. I want to read to you the first clause of each verse first. Then we will read the second clause of each. The first clause of verse 17 reads, “For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one….” Now let us read the first clause of verse 18: “Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation….” Now what does Paul say in those two clauses? Paul is showing us that by one man’s offense or one man’s sin, death reigned, and by one man’s sin or disobedience, judgment came on all men to condemnation. I want to say there is not one scripture in the Bible that will contradict that statement of Paul’s. First of all, that one man’s offense spoken of here was Adam back in the Garden of Eden. 

Through his one offense death entered the human family and brought condemnation upon all humanity. The whole world is lost. Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” John said the whole world lies in wickedness. If it is not the nature and result of one man’s offense plunging the whole human race into sin, then why are there not multitudes of people here and there who chose to live right and do not need a divine experience? How do we know it is the nature within man that puts him where he is?

Let’s look at the last two clauses. Verse 17: “…much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.” And verse 18: “…even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.” Now we have two Adams right here. We have the first Adam and the last Adam. The first Adam was back in the Garden of Eden. The second Adam, or the last Adam, is the Lord God from heaven. The first Adam, through his offense, plunged the whole human race into condemnation. The second Adam gave His life to purchase salvation for the whole human race, and salvation is offered by the free election of the individual. Verse 17 says, “They which receive.” Now get the point: The first Adam sinned and plunged the whole human race into sin and condemnation. There is no scripture from cover to cover within the Bible that will contradict it. Then he goes right on to speak about the Lord from heaven; the last Adam gave his life to purchase full salvation for all who choose to receive it and be saved. 

I hope I have made it plain enough so you can grasp it. The blood of Jesus Christ will save all humanity if they receive it. Paul said, “…much more they which receive abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness.” It is up to each of us to receive everything God has for us by free choice of our own. God does not force man against his will. All men must choose to be saved, because every man chose to sin willfully in the first place. Every man will answer for his own sins. You and I were born into this world with a sinful nature. We can make our choice to remain in that condition or make the choice to serve God and surrender to Him. When we reach the age of accountability, we make our own choice.

Our burden has been God’s perfection for man. How, then, does one obtain God’s perfection? The answer is when we become partakers of the divine nature of God. There are no imperfections in the divine nature of God. Listen to me: The man who preaches that you get the divine nature at conversion absolutely cannot teach two cleansings. If he does, he is teaching that God Almighty’s nature needs cleansing. A man who has the divine nature of God is as perfect as God is perfect. There is no other cleansing necessary or available. 

Let me say right here that a sinner cannot partake of the divine nature of God. Christ said the world could not receive this. First, he must come to God as an unworthy sinner with a penitent heart. He must have a broken and a contrite spirit with Holy Ghost conviction working with him. He must possess true godly sorrow for the sins he has committed. The unconverted person will have to present himself in that manner, get on his knees and repent, and confess and forsake all sin, and ask God’s forgiveness to be born of the Spirit of God. But the sinner cannot present himself to God and obtain, in one experience, the divine nature of God. 

We do not partake of the divine nature of God until we are sanctified. Consequently, we are not perfect until we are sanctified. The Holy Spirit does not dwell in the heart of the justified. Notwithstanding, there is no sin in that man’s life. Sin stops when you are converted. I say the justified man must live to the same standard as the sanctified man. There is only one kind of fruit produced in God’s kingdom, and that is the fruit of holiness. When a man is converted, he begins to produce the life of sinlessness. Yet, there is a nature within him that is not right with God. 

In John 14:15-17 Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” Now I want you to know that He is talking here to men who have already been born of the Spirit of God. They were not of this world. They were born of God and loved God. The Spirit of Truth is the Holy Ghost. He is our comforter.

Again, the sinner is not of God; he is of the world and cannot receive the Holy Ghost. Neither can he receive the divine nature of God. The Holy Ghost is with a sinner when he is under conviction. If the Holy Ghost is not with that sinner, then that sinner is not under conviction. The Holy Ghost is the only one who can reprove the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment. If the Holy Ghost does not knock at your heart’s door and make you realize you are guilty, condemned, and lost, then you will die and go to hell. 

The Holy Ghost is with the sinner in conviction. What is he doing? He is working conviction; he is making that man to realize: “You are lost! You are sinful! You are damned! You need to get right with God.” We need to realize that it is the same Spirit of God with the justified that was with the convicted sinner. He helps the sinner realize his lost condition and his need of God, and He helps the justified man realize he has been born of the Spirit and wants him to live for God until he gets sanctified.

Now the justified man still retains a sinful nature. The apostles were no different. They still had envy, anger, and strife. They aspired to be the greatest; they desired preeminence. It was in their hearts after they were justified. There is only one way to deny that, and that is to deny the Bible. I want you to see that imperfections still abide in the justified until they reach the stage of perfection. 

Hebrews 6:1, “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God.”

Now the foundation of your experience with God is repentance. Here Paul is telling us, let us leave those principles, those primary doctrines of the gospel, or repentance, and let us move on to perfection. 

Hebrews 10:14, “For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.” Where does perfection come in? When we are sanctified. That is when we get the divine nature of God. I say in this experience of sanctification, we partake of the divine nature of God, and consequently, we have reached that point of perfection. In other words, our moral being, our nature, our spirit, our heart, and the whole inner man are just as pure as God is pure. We are ready to step right into the presence of God. The sanctified man has God’s nature in him. He has God’s Holy Ghost in him—the third person of the Godhead. He is perfect. Not humanly, of course. Let us keep those two things separate in our minds. But he is ready for the presence of God. Now I know that is a high standard, but it is the Bible standard.

This is know-so salvation. Thank God, you can know you are ready to step into the immediate presence of God. If you do not have this experience, you need to get it and be ready to meet God. Some people think what I am preaching is too high and that it is humanly impossible. Humanly, yes, but not with the power of God’s great salvation. It is not through any virtue of our own, but through the power of the Holy Ghost and the grace of God that we can live this way. We can live above sin, have victory over sin, and live in such a manner that if death were to strike any instant, we would go right over into glory. If you are not living that way, you are not ready to meet God. God’s perfection was offered to mankind. Thank God, I’m glad for God’s great love and mercy toward us. 

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