The cross was once a symbol of the greatest shame, an instrument of fear, reserved for the vilest beings (Deuteronomy 21:23). The story of the cross changed when it journeyed with Christ to Golgotha. Today, because of Jesus, that cross stands for hope, healing, wholeness, and reconciliation. “He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight, if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard” Colossians 1:21-23
It doesn’t matter what we used to stand for before. God counts us blameless and above reproach if we can receive the gospel and carry on the walk with Christ. Therefore, through His sacrifice, Christ has made us perfect before God. Yet in the same chapter, Apostle Paul talks about every man achieving perfection in Christ. “Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus” (Colossians 1:28)
This seems to be a paradox. First, through faith in Christ, we are presented before God as holy and blameless. Then through teaching and warnings, the Apostles also try to present each person perfect in Christ. The key to understanding this paradox lies in the life of the apostle himself. In Philippians 3, a hard-hitting letter that literally trashes righteousness through law, the apostle lays bare His own experience with righteousness and perfection. He tells the church not to take confidence in the flesh, even though he is more qualified to boast his righteousness in the law than others do. “circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; as touching zeal, persecuting the church; as touching the righteousness which is in the law, found blameless.” (Philippians 3:5-6)
In verse, 8 and 9 he puts in place all the accolades and achievements in his life that does not include faith in Christ. “..I count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith (Philippians 3:8-9) ”
Regarding perfection the Apostle simply says, “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. (Philippians 3:12)” And here things get a little clearer. Salvation through the cross grants reconciliation and righteousness. But the journey doesn’t end there. Each of us is saved for a great purpose in Christ. That purpose is something that Apostle Paul was convinced he would press on to lay hold of. Here it becomes clear that receiving salvation and living out the purpose of that salvation is two different experiences of perfection.
Paul concludes saying “having righteousness by faith in Christ…that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; (Philippians 3:9-10)”
For Paul, salvation gave him a thirst to get to know Jesus and share the mysteries of Him with the world. Salvation didn’t take him on a journey of self-discovery or self-perfection rather it became all about PERFECTLY discovering Christ. Proverbs 9:10 says “The knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” We are saved so we can get to know our savior, to see the light of the world in all His glory and to perfectly reflect the glory of His life, death, and resurrection.