14 For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.
You are perfect. If you are a genuine follower of Christ, you are perfect. This idea makes me uncomfortable. It made me uncomfortable to say it as I was teaching in Hebrews 10 yesterday, and it is making me uncomfortable to write it now. But it is not because it is not true. It is stated plainly in Hebrews 10 and a few other places. It makes me uncomfortable because we do not talk to each other this way. We do not speak this way about ourselves, and I find that to be unfortunate. It is unfortunate any time we avoid talking about the uncomfortable truths of scripture, just because they are uncomfortable or because we don’t feel as if we are equipped to explain them.
What is meant in this verse by perfect? Can that get us out of the discomfort we feel and help us to ignore the implications of this truth? Unfortunately, I don’t think so. The word used in these texts is τελειόω which means to complete, bring to its end, finish, accomplish, overcome a state of imperfection, fully fill until nothing is lacking. Let’s place it back in the context of Hebrews 10. If you are sanctified (all believers are in this state and thus called saints throughout the New Testament), then by Jesus death you have been made perfect, complete, a finished work, fully accomplished. Your state of imperfection has been overcome, and now you are lacking nothing.
Shocking?! I think so. True? Must be. But how…when I failed yesterday, last week, last month, and last year, causing me to believe that I will likely fail tomorrow, next week, next month and next year? Doesn’t this reality by logical conclusion make me imperfect? Not according to this verse. Why?
As with many things in scripture, context holds the key. You see Paul is fleshing out the implications of Jesus’ sacrifice in this section of Hebrews. He makes this statement a few verses before: “But now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself” (Hebrews 9:26b). Jesus came and sacrificed Himself to “put away sin”. “Put away” is a Greek word that literally means to annul. Marriage annulments are not divorces. A divorce recognizes that a marriage took place. An annulment is a legal statement by a judge indicating that a legitimate marriage never happened.
What does that mean for us? Jesus came not just to forgive our sin, but to create a condition in which it is as if our sin never happened. Not just our past sin but our present sin and our future sin. If you’re going to sin tomorrow, He already knows about it and, as far as He’s concerned, it never happened. If my sins past, present, and future never happened, then…I’m perfect! That perfection is not just semantics but a real reality for you and me and something that personally I want to shout from the rooftops.
So much of how we behave grows out of how view ourselves. What if we started to view ourselves not as sinners but saints, not as those who are bound to blow it but as those who have been made those who don’t. Sin might stop being viewed as inevitable and start being seen as unthinkable.
May we choose to believe in the truth of our perfection and live as those who have been made so.