|By: Nancy Missler; ©2003|
|Suffering is a tool God uses to make us “perfect” and “complete,” because through it we learn to bar ourselves from sin and self and cling to God.|
Scripture tells us that suffering is what makes us "perfect" and "complete," because, through it, we learn to bar ourselves from sin and self, and cling to God. Just as Jesus became "perfect" by barring Himself from following His own ways and clinging to God, so can we. As God begins to separate and cut away all of our self-centered ways, it will hurt and we will suffer. But until our souls are melted, annihilated and freed from every fleshly thing, the consummation of our marriage with God will not occur. The only way completion and oneness with God are accomplished is by abandoning ourselves to His will in all things.
The word "perfection" is theleioo in the Greek and it means to achieve some goal or to attain some standard; to make a full end; to be brought into completion; to be full grown; and to be lacking nothing. When we are "perfected," our marriage with Jesus is truly consummated. Christ will have become our "all and in all."
The definition of "perfection" that I really like is to be exactly what God is looking for. "Perfection" means everything on the inside and everything on the outside has been changed into God’s image. It’s not necessarily understanding all of God’s designs, but simply submitting to them. Our union with Him is complete, perfect, final and full grown. This is the "fulness of God" that Ephesians 3:19 refers to.
Perfection is not only a sanctified soul, but also a purified spirit. Only One has ever reached this spiritual level completely and that, of course, is Jesus. Perfection can only be found in Him. The reason we will never reach this state of perfection or total completion here on earth is because we are not God, we are human, and we will always be human. In other words, we will always have the flesh to contend with. No matter how "holy" we become, our flesh will always remain intrinsically imperfect.
The Bible tells us, however, that Jesus is our example and that we are to emulate Him. We are to follow in His footprints. Jesus experienced this perfection and the "fulness of the Godhead." (Colossians 2:9) And John 1:16 tells us that "of His fulness have we [also] received." In other words, we are to strive in a positive sense for this completion and this perfection in our own lives—"to be exactly what Christ is looking for." Everything on the inside and everything on the outside should be changed into His image. This is the fulness of Christ. As we learn to "bar ourselves" from following sin and self, and learn, instead, to surrender our imperfections to the cross, we will "taste" more and more of this fulness, this completeness and this perfection of Christ. And, the more we taste, the more we will want.
Experiencing God’s fulness is exactly what it means to have intimate knowledge of Him. In the Bible, there are two Greek words for "know." They are ginosko, which means "beginning knowledge," and oida, which means "intimate, experiential knowledge."
For years, I’ve experienced intimate knowledge of God’s supernatural Life flowing through my soul. I’ve experienced His Agape Love enabling me to love people that I naturally did not care for; His Wisdom giving me understanding in areas that were completely "dark" for me; and His Power giving me His strength to do things I never could do in my own ability. But, I never imagined the intimacy, the fulness and the unsurpassed peace and joy and rest that would come as I have begun to intimately know Jesus’ presence in my spirit. It’s unparalleled to anything I have ever experienced before.
Intimacy means a constant, continuous communion and fellowship with the Holy Spirit. It’s experiencing His leading, His guiding and His anointing continually. Intimate knowledge of God is dwelling in His presence, no matter what our circumstances are, and experiencing a peace and a joy that passes all human understanding.
In other words, nothing else matters in life once we have come to experience the ecstasy and the euphoria that surrounds us when we abide in the presence of Jesus, the God of the Universe. The Psalmist says, "His loving-kindness [becomes] better than life."(63:3) This truly is the climax of our Christian walk.
Sanctification is simply the preparation of the saint for heaven. Once we are sanctified—body, soul and spirit—heaven will simply be a continuation of the intimacy with Christ that we have already begun here on earth. Thus, we are the ones who determine the degree of intimacy we will have with God. We can be as close to Him as we choose to be. If we want intimacy, the question becomes, Are we willing to pay the price for it? It’s costly.
As Jesus says in Luke 9:62 says, "No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God."
Intimacy comes from two things: an increased cleansing of our soul from our sin, and a purification of our self-centered ways (from our spirit). God’s Love is the only thing that will draw us to this kind of intimacy. And God’s Love is the only thing that will keep us there. Nothing will ever fulfill us or give us the security and identity, meaning and purpose like intimacy with the Creator of the universe. Everyone else in our life will let us down because they are, like us, human. Only God can be that "perfect" Father, Friend, Companion, Lover, Spouse, etc., who will never let us down, never leave us or forsake us.
There seems to be four degrees of intimacy: 1) Approaching the mountain, but unable to ascend (Exodus 19:11-12); 2) Having an intimate vision of God, but that’s all (Exodus 24:9-11); 3) Proceeding halfway up the mountain (Exodus 24:13-14); and, 4) Seeing God face to face at the top of the mountain (Exodus 33:11).
Is this fourth kind of intimacy a prize worth sacrificing everything? This is a question only you can answer before the Lord. We’ll be able to "see" God only in proportion to how much sin and self we have lost!