Perfect with the Lord thy God.
'Thou shalt be perfect with the Lord thy
God.'—Deut. xviii. 13.
TO be perfect before God is not only the calling and the privilege of a man like Abraham, it is equally the duty of all his children. The command is given to all Israel, for each man of God's people to receive and obey: 'Thou shalt be perfect with the Lord thy God.' It comes to each child of God; no one professing to bo a Christian may turn aside from it, or refuse it obedience, without endangering his salvation. It is not a command like, 'Thou shalt not kill,' or, 'Thou shalt not steal,' having reference to a limited sphere in our life, but is a principle that lies at the very root of all true religion. If our service of God is to be acceptable, it must not be with a divided, but a whole, a perfect heart.
The chief hindrance in the way of obedience to this command lies in our misapprehension of what religion is. Man was created simply to live for God, to show forth His glory, by allowing God to show how completely He could reveal Hi3 likeness and blessedness in man. God lives for man; longing in the greatness of His love to communicate His goodness and His love. It was to this life, lost by sin, Christ came to redeem us back. The selfishness of the human heart looks upon salvation as simply the escapo from hell, with so much of holiness as is needful to make our happiness secure. Christ meant us to be restored to the state from which we had fallen—the whole heart, the whole will, the whole life given up to the glory and service of God. To be wholly given up to God, to be perfect with the Lord our God, lies at the very root, is the very essence of true religion. The enthusiastic devotion of the whole heart to God is what is asked of us.
When once this misconception has been removed, and the truth begins to dawn upon the soul, a second hindrance is generally met with in the question of unbelief, How can these things bo t Instead of first accepting God's command, and then waiting in the path of obedience fcr the teaching of the Spirit, men are at once ready with their own interpretation of the word, and confidently affirm, It cannot be. They forget that the whole object of the gospel and the glory of Christ's redemption is, that it makes possible what is beyond man's thoughts or powers; and that it reveals God, not as a Lawgiver and Judge, exacting the uttermost farthing, but as a Father, who in grace deals with each one according to his capacity, and accepts the devotion and the intention of the heart.
"We understand this of an earthly father. A child of ten is doing some little service for the father, or helping him in his work. The work of the child is very defective, and yet cause of joy and hope to the father, because he sees in it the proof of tho child's attachment and obedience, as well as the pledge of what that spirit will do for the child when his intelligence and his strength have been increased. The child has served the father with a perfect heart, though the perfect heart does not at once imply perfect work. Even so the Father in heaven accepts as a perfect heart the simple childlike purpose that makes His fear and service its one object. The Christian may be deeply humbled at the involuntary uprisings of the evil nature; but God's Spirit teaches him to say, 'It is no more I, hut sin that dwelleth in me.' He may be sorely grieved by the consciousness of shortcoming and failure, but he hears the voice of Jesus, 'The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.' Even as Christ counted the love and obedience of His faithless disciples as such, and accepted it as the condition on which He had promised them the Spirit, the Christian can receive the witness of the Spirit that the Father sees and accepts in him the perfect heart, even where there is not yet the perfect performance.3
'Thou shalt bo perfect with the Lord thy God.' Oh! let us beware making the Word of God of none effect by our traditions. Let us believe the message, 'Ye are not under the law, but under grace.' Let us realise what grace is in its pitying tenderness: 'As a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him.' And what, in its mighty power working in us both to will and to do: 'The God of all grace shall Himself perfect you.' If we hold fast our integrity, our confidence, and the rejoicing of hope steadfast unto the end, being perfect in heart will lead us on to be perfect in the way, and we shall realise that Christ fulfils this too in us, 'Thou shalt be perfect with the Lord thy God.'