It is the will of God for all of us to be complete in Him, having everything that we need. In 1 Thessalonians 5:23, Paul tells the church, “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
By this, the work of God in our lives is to:
Purify us to the point of having all levels present, nothing (that's necessary for maturity) missing (sanctified wholly).
See that the entirety of who we are is taken care of and guarded carefully (spirit, soul and body preserved).
Both Greek words used for “wholly” and “whole” come from the root word “holos” which is where the term “holistic” is derived. Every part of who we are is important to God and He is very concerned about making sure there’s no part that is wanting or unsound. This doesn’t mean “perfect” as in “without flaw”, but it means that He wants us to have everything we need to become the people He designed us to be. The other root word for “wholly” is “telos” which means an end-goal or specific purpose. Philippians 1:6 says that Paul was confident in the fact that, “…he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ”. We also read in the well-known verse of Jeremiah 29:11 that toward His people the Lord has, “…thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”
Not a perfect life without issues, loss, or mistakes, but one that will end a certain way if it is lived in accordance with God’s Word.
Every part of who we are is important to God and He is very concerned about making sure there’s no part that is wanting or unsound.
James 1:4-5 says, “But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” What a verse! The NIV says it this way, “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” We see that the word perfect doesn’t mean without flaw, but it means complete. It also comes from the root word “telos”. The expectation and plan of God is for us to be complete, wanting nothing that is needed to consistently mature.
When we get to a place where we don’t know what else to do, we ask God and He will keep moving us forward.
In the Old Testament, there is a Hebrew word considered by some to be equivalent to “telos”. It is “netsach”, used for words like “victory” and “strength”. It is used in Isaiah 25:8 in the prophetic message about Jesus on the cross. Just like “telos”, “netsach” means a goal or a certain end. In this case, a victorious end. Paul references this end in 1 Corinthians 15:55 when he proclaims that the crucifixion and the resurrection had victory over the finality of death and the grave.
That our end is no longer cemented in death from sin but is now redeemed for that expected end of victory in our own lives when we rise again with Christ in the newness of life (Romans 6:4).
The expectation and plan of God is for us to be complete, wanting nothing that is needed to consistently mature.
That Old Testament Hebrew word is also used for “strength” in denoting that God Himself is Strength. That to have Him is to have strength. This takes us further into the idea that if we have a union with God, He will make sure we have all that we need. That we will be able to reach that expected end, one that is complete and wanting nothing.
So, what does this all mean for us today?
God wants us to enter a process with Him that will take us from the impaired state in which we find ourselves (our flawed humanity), to then become what He ultimately planned from the beginning. He doesn’t want us to have to constantly live suffering from the repercussion of an evil world. He doesn’t want us to live in fear, depression, anxiety, and chaos in our minds, but wants to give us power, love, and soundness of mind (2 Timothy 1:7).
There is a difference between suffering trials of the faith (for the Kingdom of God) and suffering because of our humanity and the sinful nature of our flesh. Peter differentiates these two types of sufferings in 1 Peter 4: 14-15. If we are experiencing suffering for a holy purpose, that is something to rejoice over and to count it as joy (James 1:2-3) as it produces patience and strength. This is the will of God for all His people. Yet, Peter says to suffer due to evil and dysfunctional behavior is not the suffering of God that brings "wholeness". Instead, it produces death in every way possible (mental, emotional, spiritual and sometimes physical) (James 1:5).
He doesn’t want us to live in fear, depression, anxiety, and chaos in our minds, but wants to give us power, love, and soundness of mind (2 Timothy 1:7).
If we were honest, most of our so-called suffering is a result of sinful and/or dysfunctional behavior - either ours or someone else's. All abuse, faulty thinking, trauma and lack is a direct repercussion of the sinful nature of humanity. This is the suffering out of which God wants to bring us, the mindsets from which to set us free and the pain from which to heal us. Yes, there are times when He allows storms and those storms aren't designed to end until their work is complete. However, the painful dysfunction and oppression that often manifest as mental illness and distress does not fit that category. This is a direct result of the flawed human spirit and of the actions taken by those who do not seek the ways of God.
Can we be seeking the ways of God and also be hurt and deeply wounded? Yes.
We are still susceptible to the harmful and dysfunctional actions of others because are still living in a sin-driven world. The benefit of seeking the ways of God even when there's still the reality of being directly effected by the choices of others - He will direct you to (or back) to wholeness every time. He will take evil and make it good.
He will complete the work of making you, “…perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (1 Timothy 3:17); the NIV uses the term “thoroughly equipped”. He wants to, “…make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you” (1 Peter 5:10).
This promise is for those who choose to be His, to take on His identity and character, and to consecrate every aspect of life for His purpose and glory. What does that look like? Going back to the very first verse in this post, 1 Thessalonians 5:23, the key word is “sanctify”. There is a process that begins with God alone and can only continue by His Word and power. By entering unto this work of sanctification through justification (the process of redemption through the blood), God’s work can be complete in us.
We'll look at what sanctification presents as in our lives in another post and how that is related to the idea of a "holy wholeness".
We will lack nothing needed to find strength for victory until the day He comes for us. His work will touch every area of our lives and leave nothing unturned.
This is to mold us into the people He needs us to be for the purpose of reaching others and spreading His beautiful, life-changing Gospel.