For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. Hebrews 10:14 KJV
The ball is snapped. The Quarterback, ball tightly gripped, steps back and looks for an open receiver. He dodges several rushers and sees an opening and throws the ball deep into defensive zone. The ball goes up, spiraling beautifully over the heads of those who had sought to bring him down. The ball lands directly in the hands of his teammate and…
…and it bounces right out of his hands.
There are two perspectives we can consider in this play. First, the pass was perfect. The Quarterback did his part, the ball went directly where it needed to, yet it is our second perspective that is going to dominate when this play is remembered, and that is…the pass was incomplete.
In our key verse above we see that the offering of Christ, His sacrifice in the stead of the sinner, perfects those who are sanctified by that Sacrifice. This is contrasted with the sacrifices of the Law which the Writer makes clear could not make perfect:
For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. Hebrews 10:1 KJV
Rather than a concept of something being made flawless, the Greek word “perfect” and “perfected” translates has in view completion. It is a bringing to an end.
Above, the pass was perfect; it could not have been added to or thrown differently. Yet at the same time the pass is incomplete, even as the sinner in the Old Testament was incomplete despite the Lord providing a means of atonement and remission of sins.
In our walk with the Lord we understand that His efforts are meant to help us grow in Christ, and bring us up in the way we should go. Sometimes we might find ourselves falling into doubt, or wondering when we experience difficulties in our lives, whether the Lord is giving us those things we need to survive in a world that, like a defensive line-up…seeks to bring us down.
Two things I would suggest when those doubts arise.
- First, always remember how we receive that which the Lord bestows upon us will determine the result.Sometimes many years can pass before we understand that the “pass” we have been thrown was perfect, and often we assume that the result in our lives is incomplete. Sometimes, in our failures, we feel defeated. But just as every ball game is made up of many plays, and every war is made up of many battles, even so victory in our lives is not dependent on a singular event or opportunity. In both victory and defeat we must remember that the War has already been won. We have been made perfect forever by the Sacrifice of Christ.
The purpose of sacrifice according to the Law (and even before the Law was established) was to provide a means by which the penalty for sin and death was not executed upon the sinner. Vicarious death of an animal in the stead of the sinner did not make perfect, it did not make one complete in regards to remission of sins. But the Sacrifice of Christ not only makes us complete in regards to atonement and remission of sins, it does so on an eternal basis. He, Christ, has made perfect/complete forever them that are sanctified by the Offering of Himself in our stead.
- The second thing I would mention is that sometimes we are going to drop the ball.And when we do, we must keep in mind that just as in the example of a skilled athlete who has devoted his life to catching the perfect pass, and yet at times fails, even so we can fail to catch on and hold those things the Lord sends our way. Sometimes we might even fumble, and allow our enemy an advantage. But that doesn’t mean we give up. Failure should motivate us to learn from our mistakes and seek not to make those mistakes again.
Perfection from a practical standpoint can only be seen in the efforts of the Lord…
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. James 1:17 KJV
…Who has always provided everything Man needs and done so perfectly.
What we identify as incomplete in the reception of that provision can always be seen in the receiver. Great men and women of faith throughout Biblical History have failed; they have fallen short of the mark. But that did not determine the outcome of God’s Redemptive Plan. Likewise, our failures do not determine the outcome of the one thing we did not fail to receive…the Gift of God.