Jesus said, “Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect”
This verse seems to be saying we can come into perfection. It would seem strange that Jesus would say this if in fact it was impossible to be totally sanctified, for how could we be perfect with out being completely sanctified?
It says in Ephesians,
And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 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; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head–Christ (Eph. 4:11-16).
According to this verse the goal of the ministries of apostles, prophets, evangelists, and teachers is to bring the body of Christ to perfection. If that is not even possible, then why should they waste their efforts?
Paul actually prayed that we would be completely sanctified:
Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thess. 5:23).
Here, Paul prayed for the Thessalonians to be completely sanctified before the coming of Christ, not after they get to heaven.
John also seems to be implying that we can come into sinless perfection,
And you know that He was manifested 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
(1 John 3:5-6).
In the book of Romans, Paul seems to be saying the same thing,
Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace (Rom. 6:12-14).
The writer of Hebrews also tells us to go on to perfection:
Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment (Heb. 6:1-2).
Paul said in Galatians,
My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you (Gal. 4:19 KJV).
Obviously, having Christ “formed in you” is something that happens after a Christian is saved since he was speaking to Christians here. This verse seems to suggest that once Christ was formed in them, Paul would no longer have to travail for them since he uses the word “until.” Remember the ministry gifts of Ephesians were also “until” they came into perfection.
The way I see it, seven steps are required to complete our sanctification, just as there are seven feasts. When we first get saved, we come into the Passover Feast. Then we are supposed to progress to Tabernacles. This can also be compared to the seven days of creation. When we get to the seventh step or feast, we enter into God’s rest. This is why the writer of the book of Hebrews tells us to labor to enter into God’s rest. Once we do, God is finished working on us,
Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said:
“So I swore in My wrath,
'They shall not enter My rest,' "
although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: "And God rested on the seventh day from all His works”; and again in this place: “They shall not enter My rest.” Since therefore it remains that some must enter it, and those to whom it was first preached did not enter because of disobedience, again He designates a certain day, saying in David, “Today,” after such a long time, as it has been said:
“Today, if you will hear His voice,
Do not harden your hearts.”
For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day. There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.
Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience (Heb. 4:1-11).
While I think very few have ever made it this far in their walk, I do believe a few have. Enoch, who walked with God and then God took him, may be one of those as well as Elijah, who was raptured up to heaven in a whirlwind. Paul, who said he was raptured into the third heaven, may have finished his sanctification since he told Timothy that he finished his race,
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing (2 Tim. 4:7-8).
Finishing our sanctification is also likened to getting our garments of righteousness. John said,
“So he said to him, 'Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?' And he was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, 'Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen” (Matt. 22:12-14).
This is a parable of the heavenly wedding of the Lamb and His bride. Obviously, this person didn’t get a wedding garment in heaven. He had to have already attained it while on earth.
It also says in Revelation.
“Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame” (Rev. 16:15).
“Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready." And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, "Write: 'Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!'" (Rev. 19:7-9).
This is really just a sampling of the Bible Scriptures that seem to be saying we can be totally sanctified while on this earth, and we haven’t even gone into the Old Testament types that bring this out, such as Abraham having a child after he was circumcised in the flesh. How many are going to find out they don’t have their wedding garment of righteousness when the bridegroom shows up? Hebrews says that some must enter into God’s rest. When we are totally sanctified, God can rest from working on us and we can enter into His rest.
For this is the will of God, your sanctification (1Thess. 4:3).
Therefore, dear friends, since we have such promises, let us cleanse ourselves from every impurity of the flesh and spirit, completing our sanctification in the fear of God (2 Cor. 7:1)
I hope we can finish our sanctification on earth because I can’t find any Scriptures that say we can finish it in heaven!