The Berean Expositor
Volume 16 - Page 98 of 151
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Perfecting Holiness
II Cor. 7: 1.
pp. 41 - 45
The Scripture speaks of faith being perfected by works, of love being perfected by
keeping the word of God, of holiness being perfected by the cleansing from the filthiness
of flesh and spirit (James 2: 22, I John 2: 5, II Cor. 7: 1). Before we can give any real
heed to the exhortations that underlie these passages it is essential that we entertain
correct ideas as to the meaning of perfection.
In associating the word perfect with holiness we are very likely to allow the thought of
freedom from taint, or blemish, to express something of the meaning of the word perfect.
This is undoubtedly the meaning of such a passage as Lev. 22: 21, where it says of the
sacrifice, "it shall be perfect to be accepted", for the words immediately follow, "there
shall be no blemish therein". It is when we read such a passage as the following of the
Lord Jesus that we feel called upon to pause and consider:--
"Yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered, and being made perfect,
He became the author of aionian salvation unto all them that obey Him" (Heb. 5: 8, 9).
Does this teach that the Lord became without blemish through the things that He
suffered? We know that such an idea is contrary to the whole teaching of Scripture. We
must therefore look closer and criticize our own views rather. Perfect, teleios, is allied
with telos, the end. The primary meaning of "perfect" is "attaining the end" as expressed
by the apostle in Phil. 3: 12, "That I may lay hold on that for which I have been laid
hold of by Christ"; and set in contrast with "beginning" in Gal. 3: 3: "Having begun in
the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?"
We can understand in this sense that through sufferings the Lord was perfected, for
until He "finished" the work He came to do He could not be said to have been
"perfected", for that implies the reaching of a goal. Of all the blessings that we receive
through Christ holiness seems the last which we should be exhorted to perfect, yet so it
"Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all
filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God" (II Cor. 7: 1).
In this passage the word perfecting is epitele§, "to bring to a full end".
To have arrived at some approximation to a Scriptural meaning of the word perfect is
to have come a long way towards an understanding of the phrase "perfecting holiness",
but as the verse is introduced by a "therefore" and the "having" of certain "promises", it
is necessary also to know what promises these are. The promises are found in the closing
verse of II Cor. 6::--