This perspective of there being a possibility of perfection and the presence of spiritual forces may be interesting concepts but where is there an authoritative source of knowledge on these things? These concepts of animal and ideal perspectives are not my ideas but are from the Bible. The Bible encompasses 2000 years of history during the writing of it’s 66 books. In spite of it’s authorship spanning such a huge period of time and many writers, it is amazingly consistent, pointing to a very specific conclusion. Only if the writings are taken out of context, is there disagreement within it’s many parts. It has endured the scrutiny of another 2000 years of contemplation and has resisted many efforts by detractors to discredit it. Even the modern scientific world has not destroyed it’s power. Powerful people and organizations have frequently distorted it’s truth and hijacked it to build up their own power. But it remains unchanged for the last 2000 years as the many early manuscripts (copies) attest. These early manuscripts validate the current form and discredit accusations of distortion. The “editing” that was done was to eliminate some writings that had little credibility in comparison to the reliable works. Lee Stroebel’s “A Case for Christ” is a great source for evidence of it’s historical validity. He looks at it a lawyer would in proving a legal case. For myself, the evidence that is most compelling is what I can see of it at work in my experiences in life and in the experiences of history.
The Bible tells of a being, God, whose “domain” or “kingdom” is perfection, far different than what we have experienced in the world. The Bible says: "God is spirit and his worshipers must worship in spirit and truth" (John 4:24). God’s being is mysterious even though his ways are thoroughly explained. God is described as having three parts. In one part, He is the nature of a powerful and perfect authority, like an unapproachably powerful and judging king with a thundering presence, before whom nobody would dare to stand. God has another part of his nature of being able to be present with us and able to relate to us as a person because He became a person. This is Jesus Christ. God also has a part that can reside within us, a spiritual presence, that shapes our nature, becoming more like Him. This is the Holy Spirit. Lacking in insight, man has a tendency to compare God to the image and nature of a man. One has to ask questions of this man-like appearance of God. Is He just a little bit bigger than a man, perhaps eight feet tall or would He be 80,000 feet tall? Would he have a nose and fingers? We are so fixated on the physical because we are so blinded to the spiritual. We can be so concerned by what God looks like because we, otherwise, wouldn’t know how to relate to a being so incredibly different than ourselves. God is frequently referred to as “father” in the Bible because some of God’s nature can be found in a good father. A good father leads and guides those in his household, protects them with his strength, disciplines his children with sometimes harsh punishment because he loves them and doesn’t want that we go astray, sacrifices himself to provide for us, and takes us back when we rebel and return to him humbled. Because so many of us in this world have suffered from the lack of a good father, this comparison can be a very difficult concept to accept. But this does not prevent us from coming to know the source and perfector of life. We must relate to God far differently than our imperfect worldly father.
The Old Testament of the Bible describes how God chose a race of people, the descendents of Abraham, to receive His laws, to receive His special care, and be the example to the world so that all in the world might come to His perfect ways. Before this, mankind had mostly known nothing more than to live like animals although his unique conscious was always searching for something more. The descendents, or “race” or “nation”, of Abraham reached their pinnacle when David was king. But it all fell apart because they had great difficulty following God’s laws because their animal nature remained in control of them. They failed as a worldly power, never receiving the total and lasting victory that could have been theirs. However, in spite of the failure of the nation of Abraham, some individuals in the Old Testament are held up as examples for their devotion to God and His perfection. Abraham is often used as example of his trust in God.
In the New Testament, God pursues rebellious humanity with a new approach. He sends a part of himself, Jesus Christ, described in the human term “son”, to demonstrate to the world the absolute corruption of man by the animal nature and to model radical love. Christ allowed himself, a perfect innocent, to be killed, so that the world could be rescued from self destruction. Each person would now be made aware that when he clings to the animal nature, he takes part in something that destroyed the only perfection that the world ever experienced. The realization of our personal participation in such unjust destructive power is the path to change. Jesus mocked the animal power code by offering himself willingly to be their target and then by being restored in His resurrection. Each of us can make the choice to retain or reject the animal perspective. If you can see the perspective of the perfection, the Ideal, radical love, and desire it, you will want the transformation. By choosing to adopt the ideal, rejecting the animal perspective, we begin on the path towards perfection. Nothing can ever separate us then, from the benefit of becoming a part of perfection once we truly adopt it. "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).
From the Bible we can see that there are six characteristics that describe God’s nature: all powerful, righteously just, eternal, loving, not complicated in instructions, and giving of freedom. He is all powerful. The fate of all things hangs on God’s nature. People may cause things to happen by their limited ability, but it is God who determines the outcome according to His purpose. The Bible says: "Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD'S purpose that prevails” (Proverbs 19:21) and “There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the LORD” (Proverbs 21:30). The second characteristic is that of perfect righteous justice. The Bible says “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows” (Galatians 6:7). The third characteristic is that of never changing for all time. The Bible says: “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18). The fourth characteristic is that God wants to benefit (love) every person. The Bible says: “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17). The fifth characteristic is that God’s requirements are not complicated. When Jesus was asked about God’s law, he replied in an authoritative concise summary: “Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments’” (Matthew 22: 37-40). This was stunningly profound to his audience because the Old Testament law is very complex. The sixth characteristic of God is that He gives man freedom, that man is not burdened with complicated requirements if he has adopted perfection. The Bible says: “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Corinthians 3:17).
I previously described the Ideal without giving credit to the source of this perspective which is the Bible. Let’s look at this perspective from the source.
Possibility of Perfection: Kingdom
What about the possibility of perfection? I previously defined the concept of perfection as an adequacy to meet all needs, of sustainable, universal benefit. Jesus does not just talk about just the possibility of perfection, but about the absolute certainty of the existence and the coming of perfection, which he calls ‘the kingdom’. Jesus’ sermon of Matthew 5 describes the nature of this kingdom. In the kingdom, there will comfort, victory, fullness, mercy, and the presence of God. This is clearly our benefit to receive such things. In Luke 1:33 it states that this kingdom will never end, it is in other words “sustainable”. In some cases the kingdom comes individually and immediately such as to the robber on the cross (Luke 23:41-43) but more often Jesus speaks of the end of the “age” which refers to the fate of all existence and it is left undisclosed in time frame. The word “universal” could be misleading. Jesus makes it clear that not all will accept the invitation into the kingdom. But for those in the kingdom, there will be benefit for all.
Where does all this benefit in perfection come from? The Bible says that God is love: “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love”(1 John 4:8). The pure form of love the Bible speaks of is not an attraction, not the hope of pleasure, not the desire to possess, but a desire to benefit that results in the act of benefiting another. God is the creator and provider of all things and the source of benefit. The requirement that God puts on man is to love Him and love each other in radical love, love without conditions. This is where all the benefit comes from.
Jesus spends his days on earth trying to teach people the perspective of perfection, what this kingdom is like, and what it takes to be a part of this kingdom. He teaches and models the concept of radical love. He explains the standards of “goodness” in the kingdom. The goodness of the kingdom is so perfect that nobody is good enough to be a part, and that there is no way that a person can behave good enough to be a part of it. Jesus teaches that it takes a total change of thinking, of perspective, to enter the kingdom. This new perspective of perfection is so profoundly different from our natural one that it is like being born again as a different person. There is nothing in common, in a perspective sense, between the old being and the new being. Jesus often talks in stories to illustrate his points. For example, Jesus tells a story (Luke 14:7-14) about seating arrangements at a wedding feast. The tendency of the animal nature is to put themselves first but Jesus describes how someone who does this will be subject to humiliation by someone more deserving. He is teaching the perspective of how humility and mercy are virtues in perfection.
Animal thinking thinks that it “knows” that benefit is distributed according to power, but in God’s perfection, personal power and agenda interferes with this perfection. The apostle Paul describes what he received from Jesus: “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Paul did not want any personal agenda to interfere with receiving what was intended him by the perfection of God.
The difference between living by the animal (the imperfect or sinful) and the perfect nature is described by the apostle Paul in Romans (8:5-9): “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ”. The Spirit of God which is the spirit of perfection must be in control for you to be a part of God’s kingdom. While a person may still have remnants of the animal nature, the spirit of perfection keeps control.
The change in perspective when living by The Spirit is a complete change in how the world is viewed. The animal perspective is now seen for the destructive force that it is, a remnant of something dying. “So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come”(2 Corinthians 5:16-17).
We saw the utter chaos in Iraq after Saddam Hussein was ousted. Saddam ruled with “an iron fist”. Without his brutal control there was a lack of justice and life became totally meaningless. In Iraq, “good people”, those who would create benefit were destroyed by insurgents, and the people who were senselessly destroying innocent people were going unpunished. Senseless destruction was rewarded and benefit was destroyed, the opposite of justice. What are the Biblical teachings on justice? The general standard of justice is “reaping what you sow” (Galatians 6:7), receiving to the measure that you contribute. A lack of justice means that you receive benefit without giving and destroy without losing benefit, things the selfish animal nature can accept for itself. It also can mean that you give without receiving, like working hard producing food but going hungry. The standard of justice between two people given in the Old Testament is literally “an eye for an eye”. If you cause a loss to someone like an eye, you should lose something of equal value: an eye. This is a general sense of justice between people which can even be accepted by the animal nature when it desires equality. But when you consider the perspective of perfection, the measure of justice shifts to whether you supported the perfection or destroyed it. Because the perfection creates benefit, those who destroy perfection destroy benefit. The Old Testament is full of bloody brutal killing of seemingly innocent people whose only crime was to be born into a tribe or nation whose leaders did not accept the authority of the one true God. Judgment was brought against a tribe or nation, mostly without consideration to individuals. In our individualistic thinking of today we have a really hard time with this one. But that time was a time of establishing justice to societies or nations, not the time of individual justice.
The New Testament time we live in currently is much more generous to those who reject the perfection and authority of God. The New Testament message is about bringing justice to the individual, or in some cases a household, rather than to tribes or nations as in the Old Testament. Most of us are given some time to consider the teaching of Jesus: knowing that our natural way is as a destroyer of perfection, and that we are individually on a path of self-destruction. In our day, those who can’t see anything other than the animal perspective can still live out their days, even benefiting from many good things. But eventually they will crash and burn. In the end, justice, according to perfection will be accomplished by the destruction of those who do not accept the perfect. There is nobody who is perfect themselves. But to reject perfection will not be tolerated.
But when someone imperfect is redeemed and moves toward perfection, there is a justice problem. How can the past and future imperfection of the redeemed be balanced out? The Bible says that the suffering and physical death of Jesus Christ is fully adequate to balance out the imperfection. This says that the perfection of Christ is greater than the collective imperfection of all those who will ever join the kingdom. Therefore perfect justice is upheld.
The inner remnant of the Animal
When a person sees and chooses the perfection of God, what becomes of their animal nature? The apostle Paul talks about how he struggles with the animal (sinful) nature (Romans 7:18-25) “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. Paul acknowledges that even though he has embraced and joined the perfect, the sinful animal nature is still alive in him, creating desires to do what is according to the animal perspective.
When the animal nature still lives in me after I have seen and accept the way of perfection, does the darkness mix with the light to a shade of grey that has a little bit of each? This discussion in 2 Corinthians 6:14-16 gives a view of how incompatible the two are: “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.“. This gives a view that the two natures are like oil and water. You can pour them together but they don’t blend. When you stir the mixture you may get bits of one and then the other but they stay separate. So I might act perfectly gracious towards a person one moment and then they do something and my animal nature kicks in and I react will all the force of my animal nature. Each part keeps it’s potential. But as time goes on, the remnant of animal nature gets smaller and smaller.
When someone considers the possibility of perfection, there is a battle going on inside that person for control. And in the world there is a battle going on between people controlled by the animal nature and people controlled by the perspective of perfection. There is a clash of great powers in each one of these battles. But is what at play just explainable by what’s happening with the individuals? We talked before about the evidence of spiritual power before like the example of Nazi Germany. What does the Bible say about this matter? “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12). This says that in the world at large and within an individual are skirmishes in an epic battle between two incredibly large spiritual forces, between God and a rival force, Satan. The picture of Satan as a big, mean, ugly red guy with horns might work for a cartoon but it doesn’t help understanding. As God is a spiritual being, so also is Satan. Going back to the Nazi Germany example, we can envision the personal war of spiritual forces as the “dark” movement approached each individual. Some were surely given to the darkness easily as there was not a trace of the Spirit of God to resist the call to pride and power and revenge for the oppression. But I am sure that many, in whom the Spirit of God was alive, were tormented. Their animal nature that had been subdued, now awoke in a rage by what was happening around them. It tore at the chains demanding to be released and have it’s feast as the spirit of darkness reigned in society. All were tested by this powerful attack of darkness and it appears that most failed to resist the darkness. If they weren’t active participants, they were at least sympathetic to “the cause”, agreeing that it was time to act in unrestrained self-interest. The complicity or at least complacency of those who claimed to have the Spirit of God affirmed to many in the world, the impotence of such power. It gave credibility to Nietzsche’s declaration that “God is dead”. What it proves to me is how false are the claims of many who claim to have the Spirit of God, those who may have membership in a church organization but who have never rejected and died to the animal perspective. These people deceive themselves because they still have a mind of insecurity and cling to a hunger for pleasure and power. They have not adopted the model of perfection.
Foolishness to the world
The notion that there could ever be anything perfect is total nonsense to the animal perspective. The apostle Paul writes: “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned”(1 Corinthians 2:14). Natural man feels compelled to manipulate all around him into what he, by his “sight”, believes will be beneficial. He cannot accept that following a certain pattern of thinking, that which the Spirit gives, will automatically lead to perfection. He is also far too impatient anyhow. He must use what limited power he has to drive his agenda. He must use his power as a dominate creature does. It is too precious to turn away from it.
The great power in the realm of perfection that the animal nature cannot understand is forgiveness, mercy, and grace. The animal attacker expects retaliation after he attacks. He even looks forward to the counterattack because he lusts after the fight and the chance to prove that he is superior. “Come on, be a man” he taunts, hungry for the fight. This is the prevailing attitude of our society. If the one attacked joyfully gives him more than he asks for without a battle, the attacker is deprived of showing himself superior which the animal nature craves. The gracious one demonstrates a greater power. It breaks the power of the animal nature, giving no satisfaction at all to the attacker who wants to prove his power with a fight. This is the admonition of Romans 12:17-20: “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head’”. Jesus modeled something far different than a powerful fighter for us at the crucifixion, he demonstrated how radical love is far greater than animal power.
Jesus warns about getting drawn into participation in the animal nature’s “code of honor”. The animal nature finds justification in taking revenge because of insults on one’s honor, his status among people. If I have been “dissed”, disrespected, the animal nature says that I should fight back for my honor. But Jesus said: ”But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also” (Matthew 5:39). Some interpret this as teaching not to defend oneself. The context in which it given says that it is a lesson on defending one’s honor and taking revenge. Striking a cheek is more of a provocation or humiliation than an attempt to do bodily harm. In this lesson of radical love for “would-be enemies” Jesus says to react with perfection: “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). This is a great example to see that we often try to live on a personally negotiated compromise between the animal and ideal rather than by a commitment to the perfection of God. If we find ourselves trying to maneuver around and negotiate acceptable behavior, it is a good sign that we have not adopted the perspective of perfection. We want to create our own custom, “designer”, personal perspective. We are rejecting perfection when we strive to find a compromise between an animal response and Jesus’ teaching. Jesus is explaining the nature of the kingdom, the perfection, not giving behavioral guidelines! The animal nature is completely in agreement with returning the attack. Perfection sees the pathetic intention of the one who provokes. The provocation is intended to draw you into his animal world. The perfect refuses to participate in such a “dead-end” game.
I proposed that the only peace in the animal world is a truce, a temporary hesitation in playing out the power struggles by opposing forces. But in the time when perfection reigns, the opposing forces of the animal nature are gone, the power struggles are no longer there to be played out. This kind of peace of when perfection reigns through Jesus Christ is described by the prophet Isaiah in the Old Testament: “The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper’s nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:6-11). It is such powerful imagery about the reign of perfection and the dissolving of opposing forces for real peace. 38e His word “knowledge” I take as intimacy of relationship, not as intellectually knowing facts.
In the animal nature, what is close to me is far more important than what is distant. What is distant doesn’t matter unless somehow it can benefit me. What is it of my concern if they have problems, do they help me? My first concern is myself, then my family, my friend, my pet, my team, my community, my nation, my race and so on. The Bible admonishes us to care for our family members: “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” ( 1Timothy 5:8). Our responsibility to care for them is not at the exclusion of others. It is not good and beneficial to build our world around them. Among those calling themselves “Christians”, their church group or organization is often seen as more valuable than the next one. What is not a part of me is far less important. In perfection, all mankind is part of me. These words by Jesus illustrate who he defines as family: “Someone told him, ‘Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.’ He replied to him, ‘Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?’ Pointing to his disciples, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.’”(Matthew 12:47-50). Your extended family expects you to give them special status which is natural if you accept the premise that what is close to you is most important. They are offended if you don’t give them special status. When I start to see what is distant is important, I lose my self-centeredness, and my world becomes much bigger than my family. It is often impossible for someone to improve his situation because family, friends, and acquaintances will be jealous and say “do you think you are better than us” and if you gain something they expect that you divide it among them, losing the benefit. Jesus explained what would happen within families as someone comes to adopt God’s perfection: ”For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household” (Matthew 10:35-36). Our families and our marriages are temporary lifeboats of protection in this world. In Matthew 22:23-33, Jesus explains how that the worldly marriage covenants will no longer exist in “the Resurrection”, the establishment of perfection.
Mission in the world
Showing how radical love, the benefit, is to be given to distant people, Jesus’ last instruction to his disciples was to go to everyone who existed on earth, no matter how far away. “Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’ (Matthew 28:18-20). No special consideration is given to those who are close. All are important.
How does the Bible talk about fear? Jesus and his disciples had a lot to fear from the world around them. They were in danger far more than most of us today. Because they spoke out, they were hated by the religious leaders and others who loved the “animal” ways of pleasure and power. The religious leaders, the Pharisees, were teachers of the complicated regulations of The Law, but they did not have the Spirit of God, the mind, the thinking, the heart of perfection. They considered themselves righteous and yet had no love. Jesus called these leaders hypocrites because of this. What you are afraid of shows what you believe has the most value. If you greatly fear loss of face it is because you believe that your image is what gives you what you want and you greatly value it. If you greatly fear loss of your possessions most, it is because they have greatest importance to you, that they will bring you what you want. The animal perspective is all about fear and insecurity. The God centered ideal perspective has a different take on fear. Jesus talks about the fear that the disciples had: “’I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.‘”(Luke 12:4-5). If you love God and hunger for His perfection above all else, you will fear that which could take you away from Him, the kind of things which would cause you to desire “animal” pleasures and power.
Man made goals and gods
There are ideals that people create that have very little in common with the Ideal of perfection. What does the Bible say about having a personal ideal that is different from the perfect universal ideal that is brought by Christ? The Bible often uses the word “god” (lower case) in the way that I have used “ideal”. An ideal or “god” is the thing that we hold up and strive for. One very consistent teaching in the Bible is that we are very prone to doing this: “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4). A personal ideal will have the tendency of animal thinking, to place great value on what brings pleasure and is dominated by the thinking of myself or what is close to me. “So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more. You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires“(Ephesians 4:17-22). The Bible also speaks of those who establish religious-natured rules that seem to work to some view of an ideal but take away from the perfection that God communicates through the Bible: “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer”(1 Timothy 4:1-5). The Bible teaches that marriage is good and so is all the food available to man. People have created religious practices that disagree with this. These teachings can help us detect when ideal, or “gods”, are constructed from other than perfection or the true God of perfection.
Marriage analogy of Christ and believers
I spoke of marriage being a glimpse of perfection that we can experience in this world. The Bible uses marriage as an analogy for the relationship that a believer has with Christ at the time of perfection. In the story (parable) of the bridegroom returning, Matthew 25:1-13, Christ’s return that brings the time of perfection is illustrated with Christ as the bridegroom, and those who accept Him as the bride. The selfless sharing of radical love that is required for a good marriage, and the lasting benefit of such a marriage, is like an imperfect example of the perfection of God. As the physical union in marriage naturally brings children in their own likeness, so does our spiritual union with Christ bring children of like spirit, others who are reborn into the knowledge of Christ.
The future secure
The pleasure and power that the animal nature pursues will disappear, but what works toward perfection endures forever, it has a benefit that lasts well beyond us. A simple illustration is that when we teach and discipline our children. When we teach them what is reliable and beneficial, “the truth”, they will pass it on for generations. This is what Jesus speaks about in this quote of John 6:27: “Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.” This is far more than passing along practical wisdom but the work to establish the reign of the perfection of God, the kingdom of God. Jesus in another story compares what He offers to water: “Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’”(John 4:13-14). This water is the new perspective, that with it we don’t have to live as animals or with our futile personal ideals, “gods”. There is a greater reality, perfection, and we can become a part of it. The promises of benefit of this perfection are everywhere in the Bible. An example of the promise: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”(Romans 8:28).
Rejection of God
This is a colorful picture image of what the Bible says is awaiting the person who lives for their animal nature, “the flesh” versus what is the promise for the one who lives for the promise of perfection in God. “This is what the LORD says: ‘Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the LORD. He will be like a bush in the wastelands; he will not see prosperity when it comes. He will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives. But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.’”(Jeremiah 17:5-8)
Jesus explains the only way to become a part of the benefit of perfection: “And he said: ‘I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me’”(Matthew 18:3-5). Only a person with an innocent spirit like that of a child can accept the notion of the giving of radical love. Once a person matures in worldly wisdom and is no longer a child, he then judges who might be worthy to receive, and is unworthy of, receiving benefit. This worldly person is no longer capable of giving radical love. Joining perfection is not an act of will, where I set forth my plan, my agenda, to do what is good by my wisdom. It is the realization that animal thinking has been in control of me and has been causing animal behavior. It is the realization of how futile the animal perspective is. The grasp of this reality produces a despair of knowing that everything I do in my own wisdom eventually destroys perfection, the benefit to myself and others. Instead of pretending to be wise and powerful like an adult, we must acknowledge our ignorance and powerlessness to do good. Ignorance, which is more gently called “innocence”, and powerlessness is the state of a child, relying on the parent for direction.
Opposition to God
The Bible has a lot of challengers. Because they fear it’s power, there are those who won’t even give it it’s historical validity. Others defensively paint it as ancient mythology, or simply philosophy. Others would like to consider it only relative and therefore relevant to that time and place in history. Even those who give it it’s due credibility spend much energy in debate about the interpretation of theological (theoretical) issues which don’t affect how you or I can come to understand God’s nature or participate in His plan. People throughout the centuries have organized religions around specific theological interpretations. The origin of the conflict within and between organizations is the struggle for the power to influence and gather and manage wealth. It is the theological interpretations that are favorable to the agenda and power interests of the organization that have most often been adopted. It only took a few hundred years after Christ for the fellowship of believers to be maneuvered into to a worldly, powerful institution. Today, the practice of religion still struggles with the issue of organization power but even more intense is the conflict resulting from trying to shaping a version of Gods perfection that won’t interfere with personal freedom. Instead of searching for God’s perfection, the question becomes: how much animal behavior can be tolerated without losing the benefits of ‘the kingdom’? People try to find or design a religion that will accommodate their personal ideals. They don’t want a religion that conflicts with the personal pursuit of pleasure and makes you feel guilty for chasing after what is central to your personal ideal, perhaps your wealth or your lifestyle. They don’t want a religion that conflicts with their goals of power, perhaps their aggressive business style. These people are not interested in a transformation, they already know what they want and want to add a touch of the religious to round out their life. The debate of how much imperfect can you tolerate and still have perfection is a pointless debate because the imperfect destroys perfection. If you read the Bible with your heart set to an agenda, you will likely be able to support your case by the way you interpret. I read a magazine essay claiming to have Biblical support for homosexuality. The author made no attempt to seek to find what God was defining as His perfection, and what should be the drive of our heart towards that perfection. The authors worked hard to discredit scripture that condemns homosexual behavior and they stretched statements about love and marriage to cover their agenda. If you give the Bible credibility for what it says it is, the word of God, then you must accept that it defines who He is and what He wants. Considering especially the New Testament teachings, there is no credibility in considering it as a book of rules for behavior as if reading a book of law, independent of the spirit, the intention of God. It is meant to give us an insight into the perspective of God, a perspective that is radically different than our own. The Bible must be read with a heart open to receiving the nature of God’s perfection, not as a book of law that finely defines how much imperfect can tolerated without penalty. Nor does it define the future with detail as if an end times script. These people would prefer legalistic precision over interpretation of the spirit of God. The Bible seems to be warning us of microscopic analysis: “Keep reminding them of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen” (2 Timothy 2:14). Listen to the heart of God, His spirit.
Everyone may have their own opinion on things but we must keep in mind the analogy to driving a car. You can disagree all you want with Newton’s laws of motion, but when you made the choice to exceed the critical speed on the curve, Newton’s laws will describe what will happen to you. If you demand from your tires more traction than what is available, you will skid off the road and into the tree. This is the judgment of God, what is really true will determine your future, not what you believe to be true. People talk about how good it is to have faith, but it is pointless to have faith in what is not true.