I caught the end of a message by Elder Morris Venden the other day and took a few notes because I really liked what I was hearing.
Perfect in Birth
He was apparently talking about Christian growth in some aspect. He was saying that when a baby is born we say, "10 fingers, 10 toes...he's perfect." So it is with the Christian birth, when we are born from above, we are perfect in birth. Another name for this is "Justification", and what a terrific study that would be for another time. Take, for example, the thief on the cross: he was perfect in birth.
Now, as the little baby lies in the cradle making bubbling noises, saying, "goo goo, gah gah," we think, "Oh how precious this little one." Yet, if 20 years later this individual is still making the same noises, it is quite tragic. So it is with the Christian, if we're still at the same point in Christ as when we were first born again, it is a sign that something is terribly wrong.
Perfect in Growth
This is what we Christians term "Sanctification." If a 5-year-old sits on the curb and makes funny faces and noises at the neighbor children, we think it is appropriate for that age. Yet if that same individual is sitting there making funny faces and noises at the neighbor children 20 years later, we think it tragic. So it is with Christians, we should continue to grow in our likeness to the Lord, Jesus Christ. Our character should be more like His each and every day.
Perfect in Maturity
This is what we Christians term "Glorification," and it only happens at Christ's second coming. Yet is it possible to live sinless lives before the second advent? I believe the Bible is clear that it is not only possible, but expected. This, as Christians, should always be our ultimate goal. To be more and more like Christ every day.
Christ said, "Be ye perfect." (Matthew 5:48) Furthermore He told the woman caught in adultery, "Go and sin no more." (John 8:11, emphasis added) Again we find it written, "My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous" (1 John 2:1, emphasis added)
Is God just playing with us? I don't think so, friends. He means what He says. You can look at these verses as a promise from God that it is possible for us to live a victorious life!
Does this mean we don't need a Saviour? Not at all. We will always need a Saviour, for "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23).
God is more powerful than Satan. He is more powerful than sin. It is through Him that we can keep from sin because "all things are possible to him that believes." (Mark 9:23) Again it is written, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:13) Also, "But as many as received Him, to them He gave power to become the sons of God." (John 1:12)
These things are only possible if we keep our eyes on Christ. Keeping our focus on Jesus is the only way we can receive His power. If we begin looking at ourselves, we have lost. Charles Spurgeon said, "I looked at Jesus, and the dove of peace flew into my heart.I looked at the dove of peace, and she flew away."
If we begin to examine ourselves, saying, "How far have I come? Am I perfect yet? How close am I?" etc. etc., we begin looking at ourselves instead of Christ. "If I say, I am perfect, it shall also prove me perverse." (Job 9:20) The key is not to dwell on the subject, or to be measuring yourself. Because it is God's work to sanctify you, let Him dwell on it. For our part, we simply keep our eyes on Him.
If we keep our eyes on Jesus, He will give us power to overcome. If we take our eyes off of Him, we will be overcome. Elder Venden said that while trying to illustrate this point to a group of young men, he went to the closet and pulled out a broom. He put the end of the broom handle in his hand and began balancing it in his palm. Have you ever tried this? The only way to keep balancing the broom is to never take your eyes off the top of the broom. If you look anywhere else, it will fall. He asked a couple young men to try to balance the broom in their palm while looking at their hand, or at the base of the broom...it was impossible. So it is with us and Christ.
Elder Venden closed with the trademark line:
There are 4 things God doesn't know:
He does not know a sin that He doesn't hate,
He does not know a sinner that He doesn't love,
He does not know a sin that He won't forgive,
And He does not know a better time than now.
God bless you and keep you all!