“I’m not perfect!” is a statement often heard. We’ve all known some who were arrogantly blind to their imperfections, and we don’t want to be among that group. Most Christians will aver that they aren’t perfect now, and never will be while in the flesh. In a sense, that’s true.
In another sense, however, that position needs to be reexamined in light of Hebrews 10:14. The inspired writer there wrote of some accomplishments of our Lord: “For by one offering he has perfected forever those who are being sanctified” (NKJV). The offering of which he wrote is, of course, the sacrifice of his own body on the cross. By shedding his righteous blood, he made atonement for the sins of all who come to him in faithful submission.
But more than atonement was accomplished by Christ’s death. In our text we learn that Jesus “perfected forever” those who come to him. But when does that perfection take place? If we say that it is bestowed after death, we then are faced with the following phrase, “those who are being sanctified.” “Being sanctified” obviously refers to life on earth. When we die, our standing with God is sealed. It would seem odd indeed to refer to those who have died as “those who are being sanctified.”
The writer’s point is that we who are now being sanctified (striving to become more consecrated to the will of God) have been perfected. Note the tense in which he writes: Jesus “has perfected” those who are being sanctified. It has already been accomplished.
No, we’re not proposing that Christians can reach a state of flawlessness in the flesh. Robert Milligan, in his commentary many years ago, stated what we regard as the central truth of this verse: “All such have come to perfection in Christ, finding as they do in him all that pertains to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3), so that they have only to persevere in well doing to the end of life …” (“Commentary On Hebrews”, Restoration Library, Delight, Arkansas: Gospel Light Publishing Company, nd, p. 273)
Peter’s statement, to which Milligan referred, is worthy of reflection: “As his divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to glory and virtue” (2 Peter 1:3). This is a significant promise! It assures the Christian that we will have the necessary resources to make the journey to heaven. Everything has been supplied to the one who is in Christ; he has, in this sense, been “perfected forever.”
What is the value of this truth? It reminds us that our ability to reach heaven is not based solely on our power. That’s truly good news for all of us who realize our frailty. Instead, we have been promised the help of Jesus Christ. The number one task before us is to remain in Christ throughout life. That’s what is required of “those who are being sanctified.”
In Christ we find absolutely everything we need.