Let us press on to Perfection.
'But solid food is for the perfect, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern good and evil. Wherefore, let us cease to speak of the first principles of Christ, and press on unto perfection.'—Heb. v. 14, vi. 1.
THE writer had reproved the Hebrews for being dull of hearing; for having made no progress in the Christian life; for still being as little children who needed rnilk. They could not bear solid food, the deeper and more spiritual teaching in regard to the heavenly state of life into which Christ had entered, and into which He gives admission to those who are ready for it. Such our writer calls the perfect, mature or full-grown men of the house of God. We must not connect the idea of mature or fullgrown with time. In the Christian life it is not as in nature: a believer of three years old may be counted among the mature or perfect, while one of twenty years' standing may be but a babe, unskilled in the word of righteousness. Nor must we connect it with power of intellect or maturity of judgment. These may be found without that insight into spiritual truth, and that longing after the highest attainable perfection in character and fellowship with God, of which the writer is speaking.
We are told what the distinguishing characteristic of the perfect is: 'even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern good and evil.' It is the desire after holiness, the tender conscience that longs above everything to discern good and evil, the heart that seeks only, and always, and fully to know and do the will of God, that marks the perfect. The man who has set his heart upon being holy, and in the pursuit after the highest moral and spiritual perfection exercises his senses in everything to discern good and evil, is counted_the perfect man.
The Epistle has spoken of the two stages of the Christian life. It now calls upon the Hebrews to be no longer babes, no longer to remain content with the first principles, the mere elements of the doctrine of Christ. With the exhortation, 'Let us press on to perfection'; it invites them to come and learn how Jesus is a Priest in the power of an endless life, who can save completely; how He is the Mediator of a better covenant, lifting us into a better life by writing the law in our heart; how the Holiest of all has been set open for us to enter in, and there to serve the living God. 'Let us go on to perfection' is the waymark pointing all to that heavenly life in God's presence which can be lived even here on earth, to which the full knowledge of Jesus as our heavenly High Priest leads us.20
'Let us press on to Perfection.' It is not the first time we have the word in the Epistle. We read of God's perfecting Christ through suffering. Perfection is that perfect union with God's will, that blessed meekness and surrender to God's will, which the Father wrought in Christ through His suffering. We read of Christ's learning obedience, and so being made perfect. This is the true maturity or perfection, the true wisdom among the perfect, the knowing and doing God's will. We read of strong food for the perfect, who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern good and evil. Here again perfection is, even as with Christ, the disposition, the character that is formed when a man makes conformity to God's will, fellowship with God in His holiness, the one aim of His life, to which everything else, even life itself, is to be sacrificed.
It is to this that Jesus our High Priest, and the further teaching of the Epistle, would lead us on. The knowledge of the mysteries of God, of the highest spiritual truth, cannot profit us, we have no inward capacity for receiving them, except as our inmost life is given up to receive the perfection with which Jesus was perfected as ours. When this disposition is found, the Holy Spirit will reveal to us how Christ hath perfected for ever, in the power of an endless life, those who are sanctified. He has prepared a life, a disposition, with which He clothes them. And we shall understand that, Let us go on to perfection, just means this, Let us go on to know Christ perfectly, to live entirely by His heavenly life now He is perfected, to follow wholly His earthly life, and the path in which He reached perfection. Union with Christ in heaven will mean likeness to Christ on earth in that lamblike meekness and humility in which He suffered, in that Sonlike obedience through which He entered the glory. Brethren, leaving the first principles, let us go on to Perfection.