What is God’s goal for us as Christians? In other words, what should the end result of our conversion to Christ be? Certainly His desire is to use us for evangelism—to help others come to know Christ and turn away from sin—but what should be happening inside each and every genuine follower of Christ through the years?
“Till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:13)
The answer to that question is called sanctification. The goal of our conversion to Christ is not the avoidance of eternal punishment—it is increasing holiness and the eradication of sin in us. But what does this specifically involve? Today’s verse gives us the answer.
Unity of the faith—God has one church, one group of people who are His, not multiple churches. They may attend different local churches, but there is one body of Christ. There is also only one faith, and it is that which is identified by what God has told us in His Word. Every genuine Christian has the Spirit of Christ in him, and is thus united with other followers of Christ.
Knowledge of the Son of God—We are to be growing in our knowledge of Christ, of who He is, of what He has done for us, of the fact that salvation through Him was always Plan A, that all of the Old Testament was leading up to Him, that He is the Word of God (John 1:1) and that we are to remain in Him because without Him we can do nothing in God’s eyes (John 15:4)—that we are to grow in our knowledge of Him by continuing to read and study His Word.
Perfect man—Perfection is a complicated word. Sin is defined Biblically as falling short of the glory of God—in other words, not being everything mankind was originally created to be before it was infected with sin. Reading the Bible and submitting to the authority of God through Christ works to undo that effect, and it increasingly makes us more like the people God intends us to be. That, after all, was the goal of Christ coming into the world—to save us from our sins (Matthew 1:21). Interestingly, if we are still stuck in sin—still giving in to sinful temptations on a regular basis—has Christ really saved us from our sins? God demands that we turn away from our sins when we come to Him, and gives us the power to do so through Christ’s Spirit in us. “And you know that He was manifested [came to Earth, was shown, revealed to us] to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him.” (I John 3:5,6)
Measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ—This is the ultimate goal of God’s work in us. We are to respond as Christ would in all circumstances, to increasingly reflect Him to a world full of the presence and effect of sin. It is a tall order, but what is impossible for human beings on their own is possible for God through the power of the Holy Spirit in us. We will never fully reflect Christ in this life, but we are to, as Peter did, evidence a bit of the kind of faith upon which Christ would build His church.
“The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.” (Proverbs 4:18)
Help us to ever increasingly come to the unity of the faith and to the knowledge of You, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of You. Amen.