A beautiful picture emerges from the passage above. The restoration God is working on does not just include the planet. It includes the heart as well. Wayward wills, minds, and desires will be transformed, restored to holiness. The image of God in man gets restored to what it was in the beginning.
- 2 Corinthians 3:18
- 2 Corinthians 5:16, 17
- Romans 5:1, 2
- Ephesians 4:22-24
- Philippians 2:12, 13
- 1 Peter 5:10
The restoration spoken of in the Bible is often associated with the word “perfection.” The oft-stated expectation is that the process of restoration will result in believers reaching a state of “perfection.” Understanding what the Bible means by that is key. A right understanding of perfection will lead to hope and growth. A wrong one can lead to great despair.
Perhaps the best way to approach this is to observe that there are two very different concepts of perfection. The one comes from the abstract world of Greek absolutes where there was a belief in the existence of a domain where absolutely nothing was amiss, a domain where not one thing was tarnished or diminished. This notion of perfection is the most common in existence. It causes Christians to think they must, at some point in life, reach a state where there is no fault or sin to be found anywhere in their lives. Working to achieve that can prove to be the most daunting and discouraging of tasks. Those who look at the quest honestly discover it is impossible. And the struggle to get there can do damage for people who sense they are failing to attain their goal sometimes produce a division in their lives between the real and the theological. They assemble “perfect” theological realms that are quite disconnected from the real world of their lives. They then easily feel free to be judgmental toward others who fail while being unable to see failures in their own lives.
The second concept of perfection is that of reaching maturity. In fact, the new Testament word translated “perfection” signifies “fully grown,” “mature,” “completion.” Here no final, perfect state is contemplated, but rather the reaching of maturity, a settling into a belief and relational structure from which one cannot easily be moved. This is a goal that, under the ministry of the Holy Spirit, is quite attainable in this life by humans.
A final element in this lesson is to note that this growth to maturity, this transformation, this restoration, is not something done against the will of individuals. The work is done by the Spirit. It is a gift from God, but it does require human complicity and persistent involvement. We are left free to decide what will prosper in our lives, this, or that, or not that. As we participate in the leadings of the Spirit, we are transformed. The progression produced is not a straight-line graph, but one with a host of ups-and-downs.
The trend, however, should be upward toward the goal of seeing the image of God restored in us. For those who participate in this restoration in this life, heaven will not be a strange place.
Question for Discussion:
- How do you think the process of restoration is going in your life?