Donald Karnes - Matthew 19, If Thou Wouldst be Perfect

This chapter deals with Perfection, directing our vision towards God's standard. We need this perfect standard to go by; this perfect model to follow, a perfect way, marked out for us; a perfect will, and a perfect work to do. Here Jesus gave the perfect standard for the human family: the PERFECT UNION: “they twain shall be one flesh.” The PERFECT SELF-DENIAL: “for the Kingdom of heaven's sake.” The PERFECT MODEL: “as a little child.” The PERFECT MINISTRY: “sell all, give to the poor; come and follow Me.” 

They, tempting Jesus, tried to catch Him in His words to accuse Him before the people. But He always used such occasions to teach “great truths.” He never fell into their trap, never stooped to argue. Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? Jesus took them back to the “beginning.” There will never be some revelation that will change what was given in the beginning. This "perfect union" is so important because it is a type of the relationship between Christ and the Church. For this reason, He doesn't want this union divided or separated. Jesus came to seek a Bride [Church] and the “one” accepted is willing to “obey,” to say yes forever! Any change would break the true type, the true word and this oneness. “Joined to one another” would be living in sin. We can't expect the unsaved to keep this standard, but it is required of His own. 

Why then did Moses command to give a writing of divorcement? “Because of the hardness of your hearts.” The evil was already present, the wrong existed; this note of dismissal was only acknowledging their sin. It was admitting their error, not justifying it. God's word is very definite: In the beginning it was not so. What God had joined together let no man put asunder. No one can disobey Christ or separate from Christ and be accepted; and much less be married to another - to their tradition or doctrine. God has placed the Human Family to speak of Christ and the Church, and whosoever breaks this union is not without sin. The disciples well understood the words of Jesus. He meant no separation, except in case of unfaithfulness , and then “no marrying another.” They said to Jesus, “If the case of the man be so .. it is not good to marry.”  

This gave Jesus an opportunity to reveal more of God's Standard: “the perfect self-denial.” Jesus made it clear that this is not for all men; only those for whom God has appointed it. Those, who for the Kingdom of Heaven's sake are willing “to go all the way.” For the Lord's sake they refuse what is legal and legitimate and deprive themselves of what they might lawfully have. Jesus spoke of three classes of eunuchs. 1st, some who are incapable of marriage because they were born so, due to some corporal defect. They have no credit coming. There is no credit coming. There is no merit to their celibacy, because it is not voluntary. 2nd, some were incapable of marriage because they were made so by men; by cruelty this condition was forced upon them. Thus there is no merit or benefit. 3rd, those who renounce marriage for the sake of the Kingdom. Jesus was definite that this was “only for those whom it is given.” Those who for the Gospel sake keep themselves free, voluntary celibacy, in view of something that is even higher than marriage faithfulness. 

The “perfect ministry:” The rich young ruler came running to Jesus - a very good mark. He fell at Jesus feet - a very good attitude. “What must I do to inherit Eternal Life?” - a very good question! Everything seemed so favourable. Why did he miss the blessing? What went wrong? We get to the root of the matter studying the words of Jesus, directed to the person in question. He never spoke amiss. He never missed the mark. He always touched the spot, revealed the need and met the need. Jesus said, “If thou wilt enter into life.” That's what was missing! He had the form but not the force! He had kept the precepts from his youth; the letter of the law was in order. He lacked life, the germ, the kernel. He himself realized something was wrong. "What lack I yet?" he asked. 

Now Jesus added, "If thou wilt be perfect…" Two distinct ways are defined here: the way of precepts and the Way of perfection; the way of the law and the Way of love. The commandments are good. The law is a schoolmaster to lead to Christ. All this is just a preparation, a shadow of the perfection. In Christ we have the perfect Way, the perfect example, the perfect Redemption, the perfect will, even perfect peace for those whose minds are stayed on Him. There is a price tag on this perfection. This young man wanted to preach too, with the twelve. But he didn't want to fulfill the conditions. He wasn't sincere; he didn't mean all he said. "What must I do?" He was bowed in body, but his will was not bowed. He was moved outwardly, but inwardly he didn't budge a bit. The first thing Jesus asked him to do, "Sell all, give to the poor: come and follow Me!" He was not willing. He turned away sorrowful, not wanting to part with his wealth. Peter remembered the conditions he and the other 11 had fulfilled to become apostles, "Master, we have left all and followed Thee, what shall we receive?" Jesus spoke not only for the 12, all who would follow Him in the regeneration would one day sit with Him in glory reigning. Everyone that hath forsaken houses or brethren, etc., for My Name's sake, shall receive 100 fold and shall inherit Everlasting Life.