(Continued from the previous issue)
We had, in our last article, confronted the question: Why does Scripture require of God's people perfection when we know that perfection is unattainable in this life?
If I may phrase the question in a slightly different way. we could ask: Why does God wait until glory to give His people the full holiness which He requires of them? And why, while they are still in the world, does God demand a holiness which He will only give when they arrive at their eternal destination?
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There are a number of reasons for this, all of which have to do with the general question of the address of the gospel.
The first reason is that, by means of the demands of perfection, the child of God may see his sins and flee to the cross for forgiveness.
When Scripture requires us to be as holy as God is (I Peter 1:15, 16) or to love the Lord our God with all our heart, all our mind, all our soul, and all our strength (Mt. 22:37, Deut. 6:5, Luke 10:27), or to love our neighbor as ourselves (Mt. 22:39, and many other places), the Holy Spirit brings to our consciousness how far short we fall from what God requires.
This brings us to the cross where we seek forgiveness and pardon.
It is not saying too much to insist that this knowledge of sin is always first in our conscious experience when we hear the gospel. It is not only first when we first believed and fled to Christ; it is always first every time we hear the gospel proclaimed.
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The second reason why God demands perfection is that we, seeing how far short we come to what God demands, may learn that the only power by which we are able to keep God's commands is by the power of the cross of Christ.
And again we flee to that cross to find strength and grace to escape sin and walk in obedience. We learn that all our sanctification is only in the blood of Christ.
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A third reason why God requires of us perfection, though we cannot attain it, is that we may see that we do have the beginnings of all that God requires. We do begin to walk in God's ways. We do start on the road of sanctification. We do love God, walk in holiness, seek Him in fellowship with Him.
What Augustine said more than a millennium ago is still said by every saint: "Give what Thou dost ask, and ask what Thou wilt."
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A fourth reason why God demands of us perfection is that in this way we may continue the battle against sin all our life. Sometimes we become very weary in the battle -- especially because the same sins plague us continuously. And we are inclined to give up and quit fighting.
But the high demands of God's law and the urgent admonitions of Scripture inspire within us the desire to continue to fight. Though we are often sore wounded and though sometimes we seem to be overcome, yet God continues to call us to holiness, and the Holy Spirit works through that call the continual desire to be as God is.
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And finally, the reason why perfection is preached to God's people is that through the preaching of perfection we come to see what God will do for us when He takes us at last to heaven. He will sanctify us entirely and make us as perfect as He is. He will cleanse us at last from all sin and in body and soul conform us to the image of His own dear Son.
And so, hating our sin, wearying of the battle, we look with renewed eagerness to the day when we shall be in glory. We shall be victorious, not by our own strength, but by the power of the cross.
The good that we would we do not; and the evil that we would not, that we do; and in agony we cry out, "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" But: "I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom. 7:14-25).
- Volume: 5
- Issue: 22
Prof. Herman Hanko (Wife: Wilma)
Ordained: October 1955
Pastorates: Hope, Walker, MI - 1955; Doon, IA - 1963; Professor to the Protestant Reformed Seminary - 1965
Emeritus: 2001Website: www.sermonaudio.com/search.asp?speakeronly=true&currsection=sermonsspeaker&keyword=Prof._Herman_Hanko
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