I am sure that you, like me, have wondered what it is like to be innocent or blameless. It is the goal to which most believers aspire. We were innocent once - as newborn babes - and our race was innocent once in the Garden of Eden. No sin had tarnished either, no choices made to disobey or rebel against the Creator. And we were happy.
"Be perfect (Heb./Aram. tamim) before Yahweh your Elohim (God)" (Dt.18:13, ISRV)
This morning Yahweh shoswed me a vision of a little dark-haired girl beaming across her face with undisguised happiness. She was clutching a large, unprotesting rabbit almost her own size. What a world this would be if all were like that girl.
Today's passage from the Torah is a plain mitzvah (commandment) to be "perfect". Yah'shua (Jesus) Himself reiterates the mitzvah to His talmidim (disciples):
Both the Hebrew and Aramaic use the word tamim which most versions render as either "perfect" (e.g. KJV) or "blameless" (e.g. NIV) though the word has a number of shades of meaning that include "innocent", "simple" and "harmless". Where the idea of 'petrfection' or 'flawlessness' is meant, Aramaic uses the word gimira.
"Therefore, be perfect, as your Father in the heavens is perfect" (Mt.5:48, ISRV).
To be perfect means that you cannot improve upon what you have and are. That being true, only Yahweh and His Davar (Word) may be said to be 'perfect' since they can neither be improved upon. When Moses first admonished His people to be tamim what he meant, quite simply, was to be innocent, harmless and pure in their minds and levim (hearts). Perhaps a day will come when we eventually become perfectly human and can no longer be improved upon but that surely is not going to happen in this life or for a very long time in the eternities either. So long as there remains the possibility of growth and improvement, in whatever capacity it has been given to humans to improve upon, we will never be perfect. However, there is no question that we can - and should - be tamim. We can all learn to be blameless, pious, pure and innocent before Yahweh our Elohim. If it were not possible, do you think that Yahweh should have given the mitzvah (commandment) three times - through Moses and Yah'shua (Jesus) as we have seen, but even before their time too:
That rather puts the lie to the claim (and excuse) by older people that they are 'too old to change', doesn't it? If Yahweh issued this mitzvah (commandment) to Abram when he was 99, then none of us are ever too old to repent, obey and change. Having issued this mitzvah (commandment) Yahweh then went and renamed this patriarch 'Abraham' (v.5), underlining even more emphatically that change is not only possible but positively expected to our dying breath. Clearly we are able to make important choices until senility finally denies it to us mentally though I believe that inside the lev (heart) is still making choices. There is never a time when we are granted the right to retire from repenting and spiritually growing. Why else would Yahweh keep some people here so long and for no apparent reason to our limited sense of understanding were it not because people can still make choices affecting their status in the eternities?
"And it came to be when Abram was ninety-nine years old, that Yahweh appeared to Abram and said to him, 'I am El Shaddai - walk before me and be perfect (tamim)" (Gen.17:1, ISRV).
The older I get, the more I see what needs doing not because I have not laboured hard to get right with Yahweh but because I haven't always surrendered to Him the things He actually wants - the more important things. If the Pharisees could neglect the more weighty matters of the Torah then you can be quity sure that we have the carnal tendency to do the same with our choice-making. If innocence and blamelessness are so important to Him - as they are - then oughtn't we perhaps to be making this our chief priority? And if so, where do we most often go wrong in pursuing this?
We are presented both in Scripture and in life generally with two pictures of innocence that are both similar as well as different. On the one hand, there is that picture which I saw this morning of the little child and her bunny rabbit, a picture of innocence that we can all readily equate with since we have been there in our infancy and youth and have often doubtless wished we could return to it. For want of a better label, let us call this Alef Innocence.
The other picture of innocence is the one Yah'shua (Jesus) gives to us - the innocence of our Heavenly Father which we are commanded to emulate. Let us call this Taw Innocence. Clearly there is a world of difference between an innocent child and El Shaddai Who as both the Father (Yahweh) and the conqueror of shaddim (demons) - and as the Mother (the Ruach haQodesh/Holy Spirit) the 'breasted one' and Nurturer) the nourisher - we are supposed to be like generally in our respective gender rôles . Clearly, though, an innocent child is neither a conquereror of shaddim (demons) and protector-provider, nor a nurturer since it is still immature. However, such rôles do devolve upon mature adults as fathers and mothers. Clearly, then there is a range of perfections, maturities and qualities of innocence that we are to obtain and retain, from alef or alpha (the beginning of life) to taw or omega (full maturity). There is therefore an immature innocence and a mature innocence, the common factor between them being BLAMELESSNESS.
Yahweh clearly intends that we are to preserve our innocence from birth to death and appoints parents and guardians as protectors as we mature from childhood. When children have have attained to the biblical age of majority, which is 20, we become fully responsible for our own preservation of innocence, having learned to start taking responsibility at around 12 at Bar/Bat Mitzvah and assuming more and more until we are finally directly accountable to Yahweh.
We must be clear from the outset that the kind of innocence that obtained in the Garden of Eden is both gone and unattainable again. In that state there was no corruption or tainting with evil and though we might like to think of newborn of children as being of the same genre, the emet (truth) is they not only carry the Adamic nature in them but come under the influence of others even while in the womb - they are constantly picking up atmospheres and are being impacted by them. Nevertheless they are jurisdictionally innocent in Yahweh's eyes simply because they are in no position to make choices for themselves until they are much older. So I am not talking about Edenic innocence which the world has not known for many millennia.
We all mess up and in sinning we lose innocence, purity and blamelessness. We become defiled when we rebel against Yahweh, our consciences themselves become defiled and we experience guilt. No amount of pretending that we are 'good' makes a lot of difference because our behaviour belies our inner state. As I recently said, quoting Ayn Rand, "you can ignore reality but you cannot ignore the consequences of ignoring reality". This is as true of being in a state of sin as it is in dealing with the reality of what's going on generally around us. We can pretend that sin doesn't exist, that we're basically good, but our sinful behaviour - the way we treat others and view Yahweh - is a constant reminder that we have deceived ourselves and are in need of repentance.
Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) provides the only route out of this sinful condition since He alone can erase the stain of sin and the demonic behaviour that always follows it. Confessing and repenting before Him is the only way to have our innocence and blameless state restored to us. How terrible it would be if we had to try and do this in our own strength and with our own resources for this is quite impossible. Therefore we must all, by the by, accept the reality that only Yah'shua (Jesus) saves, that He alone is the atonement for our sins by virture of the work done by Him for us on the Cross of Calvary. The innocence or perfection Yahweh demands of us is not possible any other way. And since this is the condition for living with Him for eternity it obviously becomes the most important quest for us to engage in.
"For it is by grace (undeserved loving-kindness, unmerited favour) you have been saved (delivered from the guilt and stain of sin), through emunah (faith, trusting) - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of Elohim (God) - not by works (deeds, legalism), so no-one can boast" (Eph.2:8, NIV)
 Obviously there is a certain amount of overlap in gender rôles too both when the woman acts as the protective 'mother bear' (a male trait) and the man as the gentle nurturing father (a female trait).