12 You were the signet of perfection,
full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.
13 You were in Eden, the garden of God;
every precious stone was your covering,
sardius, topaz, and diamond,
beryl, onyx, and jasper,
sapphire, emerald, and carbuncle;
and crafted in gold were your settings
and your engravings.
On the day that you were created
they were prepared.
14 You were an anointed guardian cherub.
I placed you; you were on the holy mountain of God;
in the midst of the stones of fire you walked.
15 You were blameless in your ways
from the day you were created,
till unrighteousness was found in you.
Satan was Perfect
This passage in Ezekiel seems on the surface to be about the king of Tyre, but is widely regarded as really being about Satan. It certainly sounds like some strange things to say about an earthly man who was in essence the mayor of a seaport city. We see that Satan was in the beginning not only beautiful and wise, but was blameless. He was created initially as perfectly wise, perfectly beautiful, and perfectly moral. It was because of this inherent perfection that he saw fit to compare himself favorably to God, and was able to think he could find fault with God. He trusted in and worshiped his own perfection and then came to sin and ruin through pride.
The Church was NOT Perfect
The church is quite the opposite. We start in imperfection. We are born fools, and from the very womb we are bound in moral imperfection. We start with unrighteousness found in us. People want to dispute with the idea of the sinfulness of all people and they want to press the notion that infants are innocent. I don’t know anything about the morals of infants, but I think that as soon as a human comes into any kind of empowerment, even as a toddler, they begin to use it for selfishness and evil, and that is a big clue. When we try to make the case that people are basically good, we are missing something that in the end is very very beautiful. We are the opposite of Satan. We were not blameless in our ways from the day we were created. We are unrighteous from the day we were created. We are unrighteous until the day that righteousness through faith in Christ is found in us.
Perfection and Imperfection
Satan was, in effect, under the old covenant. He trusted in his perfection of wisdom, beauty, and morals. As soon as the slightest twinge of pride was found, it was like a tiny drop of pee in a cup of coffee. It defined him completely. The idea of perfection is a very narrow one: you are either perfect, or you are imperfect. There is no gray area there. The church is the opposite. We are so unrighteous that we are like a big steaming pile of poo (even our ‘righteousness’ is as filthy rags), and if a little sprig of a plant (meaning faith in Christ) grows from it we are declared righteous. The law says that if you touch a leper, you are unclean. When the kingdom of God comes in Christ, He touches a leper and makes him clean. Satan was clean until he was found unclean, and the church is unclean until Jesus touches us and we are found clean.
The Beauty of Starting Out Imperfect
In the end, there is a grand and sweeping agenda going on that is going to result in a beautiful and strong liberty. We will never need to worry about the danger of trusting in our own perfection. We started out imperfect and were made perfect by the incredible gift of Christ’s very blood. That severe and central problem has been solved for us. He remains forever a crucified and risen savior, worthy because of the scars He retains in His resurrection body into eternity. We will forever be reminded of His great love and sacrifice, just by looking at Him. His very appearance will lovingly and kindly remind us that we started out unclean until He created righteousness in us. Ultimately, we are free through belief in the power of His sacrifice from ever committing the error of Satan. We were not at first perfect. We started off ridiculously and thoroughly imperfect. We all know it. We say, “I’m only human,” because everyone knows that humans are imperfect. It is the mark of being human. The church can become more glorious and more glorious and more glorious throughout the coming millennia, and there will never again be this danger that we will trust in our own glory. We started out unworthy and unrighteous and we were redeemed as a gift by a very great mercy. If we are to be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect, we know that it is because Jesus made us so and that it is not of ourselves, it is the gift of God.
This is why, if someone comes to the throne of judgment, and says “Lord, Lord, didn’t I …” (Matthew 7:21-23), He turns them away and says that He never knew them. They are basically trying to make Satan’s case – that they are perfect in righteousness and that God is wrong about them. The cross of Christ says they are sinners in need of salvation, and they are trying to make the case that His sacrifice was unnecessary for them. They are trying to start off perfect and be personally beautiful by their own genius and efforts. In a sense they come as enemies of God, disputing His grand agenda of sealing off this problem that Satan started. But God has forged a much greater glory and a much greater liberty than their Satanic gesture would allow. This self-assessment of personal worthiness is not the kind of faith that works in the kingdom of God, because just as with Satan, it is basically self-idolatry. In Christ, we glory in our weaknesses (2 Corinthians 11:30). Raw simple belief in the grace that comes from Jesus Christ is what works (John 6:29). This is the kind of approach that enters into liberty and beauty that lasts, because it has had this pride of self stripped away and killed at the root. Jesus has done it, and so He is worthy, and we are not. This is our great liberty and gift!
Father, we enter into this astonishment now! Thank you for touching us, the unclean, and by Your gift, finding rightousness in us! We glory in our weaknesses and in Your strength! Hallelujah!