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poochie
Aug 10th 2008, 06:48 PM
If anyone is interested in this topic I have an article on the subject that you may be interested in.

Hope this helps.


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Sinless Perfectionism

Audio Introduction to Sinless Perfectionism (http://www.cerm.info/audio_files/sinless_perfectionism.mp3)
I became interested in this topic after having experienced a man at a former church named Fred that zealously held to a Perfectionist theology. Fred zealously held to a perfectionist view and could not be convinced otherwise despite the attempts of myself and others to persuade him. This man often tried to persuade others that perfectionism is taught in the scriptures, and he often would quote random passages throughout the OT and NT to support his perfectionist view. 1 Cor 15:34 is one of many verses that Fred would quote in his defense. The verse says to “Sin Not” in the KJV and to Fred, this was to be interpreted literally. If Fred was asked if he ever sinned, he never gave a straight answer, but continually quoted 1 Cor 15:34 from memory and told others that the Bible says that we need to not sin or “do not go on sinning” as the ESV puts it. Instead we need to be Holy and this means to give our hearts wholly to God and allow Him to be the master of our lives.

Perfectionism defined

According to John Wesley Perfectionism can be defined as;

that habitual disposition of the soul, which, in sacred writings, is termed holiness; and which directly implies, the being cleansed from sin, “from all filthiness both of flesh and spirit,” and, by consequence, the being endued with those virtues which were also in Christ Jesus; the being so “renewed in the spirit of our mind,” as to be “perfect as out Father in heaven is perfect.”

There is a difference between the kind of perfectionism that Wesley taught and the perfectionism that I will be treating in this article. Wesley did not advocate sinless perfectionism, which is the type of perfectionism addressed in this article, but Christian perfectionism. There is a difference between them, for Wesley never believed to be free from the power to sin, and never taught that it was possible. However, he seems to be one of the originators of perfectionism, and his name seems to be attached to the doctrine of sinless perfectionism, regardless of whether or not he taught it.

According to Millard J. Erickson, most perfectionists tend to be Arminian and the major perfectionistic denominations are the Church of the Nazarene and the Pentecostal groups. Calvinists are not normally perfectionists. Perfectionists hold that it is possible to come to a state where a believer chooses not to sin. Perfectionists believe that once a believer has arrived at this level of perfectionism a believer can sin, but that the person chooses not to sin. Perfectionists believe that there is a need for grace and the help of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. (Erickson, 984). There are a number of biblical passages in support of perfectionism, many of which are quoted by proponents of Perfectionism to aid their argument. Some of these verses are listed below. This list is not exhaustive, but is only some of the most commonly used verses.

VERSES IN FAVOR OF PERFECTIONISM

Matthew, Chapter 5, Verse 48

Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

1 Corinthians, Chapter 15, Verse 34
Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.

1 Thessalonians, Chapter 5, Verse 23
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 our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 John, Chapter 3, Verse 6, English Standard Version
No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.

At first glance the verses above seem to indicate that total sanctification or perfectionism is entirely possible in this life. Jesus commands the crowds on the Sermon on the Mount to be perfect, just as His father in Heaven is perfect. And in 1 Corinthians 15:34 Paul commands us not to sin. It’s definitely possible to go for periods of time without a consciousness awareness of sinning. For example, there are those that are in coma’s that are not sinning and can go for long periods of time without sinning. Although it may be possible to go for periods of time without sinning, its not possible to not be born into sin, for all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God (Rom 3:23). In one sense, the bible seems to support perfectionism, and support the idea that it is possible to be completely free of the power to sin. 1 Thes 5:23 speaks of the whole spirit and soul being preserved blameless unto the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. This when interpreted literally would imply that it is possible for the entire body to not sin. Also 1 John 3:6 says that those that abide in him do not continue to sin. This would imply that freedom from sinning is possible. At first glance, it definitely appears as if both Jesus and Paul are commanding Perfectionism. In a sense they are, for Sanctification is progressive and sanctification means separated from sin. However, both Jesus and Paul knew that perfectionism or total sanctification could never come to pass in this life. Humans are sinful and imputed with evil.




VERSES ARGUING AGAINST PERFECTIONISM

Matthew, Chapter 6, Verses 12
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

Romans, Chapter 7, Verses 18-19
For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.

1 John, Chapter 1, Verses 8-10, New American Standard Version
If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.

The Bible nowhere says that total sanctification or complete separation from sin would be possible while in this body. The Lords prayer is the biggest argument against Perfectionism, since the prayer is the model prayer that Jesus gave to us to pray on a regular basis. The prayer implies that everyday we will sin, or fall into sin. The prayer does not imply that we will be free from sin in this life. The phrase “forgive us our debts” implies that everyday we will be sinning and will need to ask God to forgive us our debtors. The perfectionist I mentioned earlier told me that the Lords prayer is the model prayer to the disciples. However if that is true what about 1 John 1:8-10 which implies that we need to continually confess our sins? Christ has forgiven our sins, but He does command that we continually confess them to Him. 1 John states that those that believe that they have no sin, or have not sinned make the Lord out to be a liar, and His truth has no place in their lives.


Also in Matt 5:48 the Greek word (teleioi) does not mean “flawless” or “spotless”, but rather “complete.” Being complete does not mean being completely free from sin. No one for example completely possesses all attributes of the fruits of the spirit mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23. But we are to strive to possess them to the full. Jesus nor Paul ever intended that we would reach perfection in this life, but that we were to continually strive for perfection. When Paul left this earth he spoke as if he were running a race and fighting a fight (2 Tim 4:7). If Paul was completely free from sinning, then there would be no need to be running a race, since Paul would have already won the race. All Christians are running a race, and none have arrived at complete perfection. Also scripture portrays the great men and women of the past as sinners. For the list of those in the Hall of Fame is in Hebrews 11. Its interesting to note that Samson is included in the list of the great saints. Samson was not exactly “perfect” and sinned against the Lord much during his life, yet he is included in the list of the great saints. It was not his works that saved him, but his faith.

Another argument against perfectionist theology is found in 2 Peter 1:9 (NIV) Peter says “But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.” Verses 5-8 mention attributes and then imply that it is possible to live a life without much goodness, knowledge, godliness, brotherly kindness, self-control, perseverance, or love, and still be saved and cleansed from sin. However those that have these attributes will receive a rich welcome into the kingdom of God. Some perfectionists may believe that those that are truly saved cannot sin, and those that continue to sin are not really saved. But how can they argue against the Lord’s Prayer or 2 Peter 1, and1 John 1:8-10? Perfectionists may not rebut the verses above but may throw them out and quote verses like 1 John 3:3-6 which appears to be in support of their position. The NIV states in verse 6 that no one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. This verse seems to support the perfectionist position until a look at the Greek. The verb forms in verse 4 (“who sins”) and also in verse 6 (“who continues to sin”). These are in the present tense, and would imply that those who live a life of sin, or sinning are not saved. These type have neither seen nor known Christ, for if they had, they would not live as they do. They are guilty of lawlessness.

Conclusion

Perfectionism is not taught in the scriptures. However we strive to be perfect (Mt 5:48), to be free from sin (Rom 6:22), to possess the fullness of God (Eph 4:13), to possess the fruits of the spirit (Gal 5:22-23) and to crucify the sinful nature (Gal 5:24-25). In some ways I envy the man I mentioned earlier Fred since he strives to be perfect and to be completely free from sin. In this life no one can obtain perfection, but perfection is a worthy goal. Those serious about their sanctification, holiness and testimony will probably refrain from involving themselves with the lusts of the flesh and other things that so easily lead to sin. Movies, worldly music, worldly parties, hanging out with the wrong people (Pro 13:20), and such are just a few of the many areas that can lead someone into sin, and should be avoided by the follower of Christ. These things are what needs to change if one is going to walk in victory and strive toward the likeness of Christ and be freed from the bond of sin. The author of Hebrews says in verse 1 of chapter 12 to throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. This would imply that separation from sin and a strive towards Christ-likeness and Christian perfection are what the author is implying. So, in that sense perfection is emphasized, but perfection can never be complete in this life. John Wesley never claimed to be perfect in this life, but emphasized perfectionism over sinless perfectionism. “Love is the keynote of Wesley’s doctrine of Christian perfection: perfect love toward God and man” (Panosian,126). So, in the same way, we should love others like what Wesley, but more importantly, Christ advocated. For Jesus said that, “all men would know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35, NIV).

Sources Used
Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. Elwell, Walter A.
Christian Theology. Erickson, Millard J.
New Dictionary of Theology. Wright, David F.
John Wesley’s Doctrine of Christain Perfection. Panosian, Edward M.

Sold Out
Aug 11th 2008, 12:17 AM
The word 'perfect' in Matthew 5:48 is the greek word 'teleois' which means, 'mature; all grown up'. It does not mean sinless perfection.

ServantofTruth
Aug 11th 2008, 12:27 AM
I'm sorry i don't understand how we are meant to respond. Is the point that a christian who believes himself to be perfect is wrong? I doubt you'll find a christian who believes otherwise on these boards.

Can you help us, with the response you are looking for?



BIG SofTy SofT outside, bible core. :spin:

ProjectPeter
Aug 11th 2008, 01:38 AM
I'm sorry i don't understand how we are meant to respond. Is the point that a christian who believes himself to be perfect is wrong? I doubt you'll find a christian who believes otherwise on these boards.

Can you help us, with the response you are looking for?



BIG SofTy SofT outside, bible core. :spin:
Oh there are those that believe in sinless perfection. Not many hold to it but more than most folks would believe.

bestillknowgod
Aug 11th 2008, 02:26 AM
You have an interesting thread started here.

I would ask what is the definition of perfection? A short answer may be "a life without sin" - which is what we believe Jesus lived on this earth.

Then we would need to define sin as well. Of course we could go with "missing the mark". That is fine as well, but what's the mark?

Maybe you could say sin is anything contrary to the will of God. So again, What is the will of God?

More often than not our questions lead to more questions and most of the time we're probably asking the wrong ones!

As you can see, the answers are subject to your personal interpretation of scripture, your upbringing, religious training, life lessons, etc.

Back to the idea of perfection and living a perfect life: How many of Jesus' peers do you think believed he was perfect? Here we are today with thousands of folks who believe Jesus lived a perfect, sinless life - so what is that really?

I must confess that if Jesus said "Be ye perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect" then I believe at some level that it's possible and for us to attain. I don't believe in setting unattainable goals.

If you believe you can't be perfect even while you say you're trying do you have a chance? Absolutely not!

Interesting thread........... and I'm listening!

nothetruth6
Aug 11th 2008, 03:13 AM
I hear you...This is definitely a much needed topic to discuss. With the state of the church today, someone needs to step up to the plate and speak the truth. So here goes....I am a firm believer that we can live a sin-free life. It's all based on my obedience to God and His Word. 2 Pet.
1 - 10 clearly states what we must do to live life without falling. I first must be willing to do, then I must do. If I am willing and obedient, I will eat the good things of the land. Ephesians 5:1 - 17 states that once we become saints, sin should not even be named among us. What happens is this; I feel like I have to sin sometimes. Well, if I keep that mindset, I will always sin...As I think in my heart, that's how I'll be...Be encouraged, As we grow in the Lord we will become more willing to obey Him absolutely and totally. Nonetheless, we will be able to live sin-free when WE decide to......1love

ranman19542002
Aug 11th 2008, 04:54 AM
Good post poochie!
I have a somewhat diminished view of John Wesley as I grew up a Nazarene and only got their whitewashed version of him.
I never read about his bent to mysticism, which flavored most of his teachings on sanctification and heart holiness.
If you are searching for that experience, it is just a carrot on a stick
that you will never experience.
It is always taught like it is a second work of Grace in your heart that purifies you from inbred sin!
It is the "perfecting of your heart by grace"
It can only be implied by twisting the scriptures and taking them out of context.
If you are blessed to find out that you were washed and sanctified and made a saint when you were born again, you need nothing else but to grow and learn at the feet of Jesus.
I know there are a lot of born again Christians who will not agree with me, but when you get into those circles and are brainwashed into thinking there is a bigger and greater "experience" you can have if you grovel and beg (works) and give up everything in your life to the Lord,(which is in reality not possible to do, but God accepts you as a sinner anyway),
This experience is above and beyond your salvation purchased by Christ, and is a step up to the Holy life of perfection!

I searched for 20 years!

When I questioned how anything could be better or subsequent to what Jesus did on the cross, I was told that sanctification was a work of God also. After a while, you cannot seperate this false teaching in your mind from the true Gospel.
To all you brothers and sisters who buy into this, I am glad to tell you stop searching and agonizing over this. God has given you all you need when Jesus saved you and placed you into his Son!
That is what the term "In Christ" means. How many times is that term mentioned in the NT?
you can definitely be saved and believe in a subsequent work of grace, but you will never "experience" that second work of grace. If you do it will be righteousness by your own works. Not faith in the finished work of our Lord.
Sorry if I got off topic, but I am a former salvation by works Christian.







If anyone is interested in this topic I have an article on the subject that you may be interested in.

Hope this helps.


--


Sinless Perfectionism

Audio Introduction to Sinless Perfectionism (http://www.cerm.info/audio_files/sinless_perfectionism.mp3)
I became interested in this topic after having experienced a man at a former church named Fred that zealously held to a Perfectionist theology. Fred zealously held to a perfectionist view and could not be convinced otherwise despite the attempts of myself and others to persuade him. This man often tried to persuade others that perfectionism is taught in the scriptures, and he often would quote random passages throughout the OT and NT to support his perfectionist view. 1 Cor 15:34 is one of many verses that Fred would quote in his defense. The verse says to “Sin Not” in the KJV and to Fred, this was to be interpreted literally. If Fred was asked if he ever sinned, he never gave a straight answer, but continually quoted 1 Cor 15:34 from memory and told others that the Bible says that we need to not sin or “do not go on sinning” as the ESV puts it. Instead we need to be Holy and this means to give our hearts wholly to God and allow Him to be the master of our lives.

Perfectionism defined

According to John Wesley Perfectionism can be defined as;

that habitual disposition of the soul, which, in sacred writings, is termed holiness; and which directly implies, the being cleansed from sin, “from all filthiness both of flesh and spirit,” and, by consequence, the being endued with those virtues which were also in Christ Jesus; the being so “renewed in the spirit of our mind,” as to be “perfect as out Father in heaven is perfect.”

There is a difference between the kind of perfectionism that Wesley taught and the perfectionism that I will be treating in this article. Wesley did not advocate sinless perfectionism, which is the type of perfectionism addressed in this article, but Christian perfectionism. There is a difference between them, for Wesley never believed to be free from the power to sin, and never taught that it was possible. However, he seems to be one of the originators of perfectionism, and his name seems to be attached to the doctrine of sinless perfectionism, regardless of whether or not he taught it.

According to Millard J. Erickson, most perfectionists tend to be Arminian and the major perfectionistic denominations are the Church of the Nazarene and the Pentecostal groups. Calvinists are not normally perfectionists. Perfectionists hold that it is possible to come to a state where a believer chooses not to sin. Perfectionists believe that once a believer has arrived at this level of perfectionism a believer can sin, but that the person chooses not to sin. Perfectionists believe that there is a need for grace and the help of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. (Erickson, 984). There are a number of biblical passages in support of perfectionism, many of which are quoted by proponents of Perfectionism to aid their argument. Some of these verses are listed below. This list is not exhaustive, but is only some of the most commonly used verses.

VERSES IN FAVOR OF PERFECTIONISM
Matthew, Chapter 5, Verse 48

Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

1 Corinthians, Chapter 15, Verse 34
Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.

1 Thessalonians, Chapter 5, Verse 23
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 our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 John, Chapter 3, Verse 6, English Standard Version
No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.

At first glance the verses above seem to indicate that total sanctification or perfectionism is entirely possible in this life. Jesus commands the crowds on the Sermon on the Mount to be perfect, just as His father in Heaven is perfect. And in 1 Corinthians 15:34 Paul commands us not to sin. It’s definitely possible to go for periods of time without a consciousness awareness of sinning. For example, there are those that are in coma’s that are not sinning and can go for long periods of time without sinning. Although it may be possible to go for periods of time without sinning, its not possible to not be born into sin, for all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God (Rom 3:23). In one sense, the bible seems to support perfectionism, and support the idea that it is possible to be completely free of the power to sin. 1 Thes 5:23 speaks of the whole spirit and soul being preserved blameless unto the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. This when interpreted literally would imply that it is possible for the entire body to not sin. Also 1 John 3:6 says that those that abide in him do not continue to sin. This would imply that freedom from sinning is possible. At first glance, it definitely appears as if both Jesus and Paul are commanding Perfectionism. In a sense they are, for Sanctification is progressive and sanctification means separated from sin. However, both Jesus and Paul knew that perfectionism or total sanctification could never come to pass in this life. Humans are sinful and imputed with evil.




VERSES ARGUING AGAINST PERFECTIONISM

Matthew, Chapter 6, Verses 12
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

Romans, Chapter 7, Verses 18-19
For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.

1 John, Chapter 1, Verses 8-10, New American Standard Version
If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.

The Bible nowhere says that total sanctification or complete separation from sin would be possible while in this body. The Lords prayer is the biggest argument against Perfectionism, since the prayer is the model prayer that Jesus gave to us to pray on a regular basis. The prayer implies that everyday we will sin, or fall into sin. The prayer does not imply that we will be free from sin in this life. The phrase “forgive us our debts” implies that everyday we will be sinning and will need to ask God to forgive us our debtors. The perfectionist I mentioned earlier told me that the Lords prayer is the model prayer to the disciples. However if that is true what about 1 John 1:8-10 which implies that we need to continually confess our sins? Christ has forgiven our sins, but He does command that we continually confess them to Him. 1 John states that those that believe that they have no sin, or have not sinned make the Lord out to be a liar, and His truth has no place in their lives.


Also in Matt 5:48 the Greek word (teleioi) does not mean “flawless” or “spotless”, but rather “complete.” Being complete does not mean being completely free from sin. No one for example completely possesses all attributes of the fruits of the spirit mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23. But we are to strive to possess them to the full. Jesus nor Paul ever intended that we would reach perfection in this life, but that we were to continually strive for perfection. When Paul left this earth he spoke as if he were running a race and fighting a fight (2 Tim 4:7). If Paul was completely free from sinning, then there would be no need to be running a race, since Paul would have already won the race. All Christians are running a race, and none have arrived at complete perfection. Also scripture portrays the great men and women of the past as sinners. For the list of those in the Hall of Fame is in Hebrews 11. Its interesting to note that Samson is included in the list of the great saints. Samson was not exactly “perfect” and sinned against the Lord much during his life, yet he is included in the list of the great saints. It was not his works that saved him, but his faith.

Another argument against perfectionist theology is found in 2 Peter 1:9 (NIV) Peter says “But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.” Verses 5-8 mention attributes and then imply that it is possible to live a life without much goodness, knowledge, godliness, brotherly kindness, self-control, perseverance, or love, and still be saved and cleansed from sin. However those that have these attributes will receive a rich welcome into the kingdom of God. Some perfectionists may believe that those that are truly saved cannot sin, and those that continue to sin are not really saved. But how can they argue against the Lord’s Prayer or 2 Peter 1, and1 John 1:8-10? Perfectionists may not rebut the verses above but may throw them out and quote verses like 1 John 3:3-6 which appears to be in support of their position. The NIV states in verse 6 that no one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. This verse seems to support the perfectionist position until a look at the Greek. The verb forms in verse 4 (“who sins”) and also in verse 6 (“who continues to sin”). These are in the present tense, and would imply that those who live a life of sin, or sinning are not saved. These type have neither seen nor known Christ, for if they had, they would not live as they do. They are guilty of lawlessness.

Conclusion
Perfectionism is not taught in the scriptures. However we strive to be perfect (Mt 5:48), to be free from sin (Rom 6:22), to possess the fullness of God (Eph 4:13), to possess the fruits of the spirit (Gal 5:22-23) and to crucify the sinful nature (Gal 5:24-25). In some ways I envy the man I mentioned earlier Fred since he strives to be perfect and to be completely free from sin. In this life no one can obtain perfection, but perfection is a worthy goal. Those serious about their sanctification, holiness and testimony will probably refrain from involving themselves with the lusts of the flesh and other things that so easily lead to sin. Movies, worldly music, worldly parties, hanging out with the wrong people (Pro 13:20), and such are just a few of the many areas that can lead someone into sin, and should be avoided by the follower of Christ. These things are what needs to change if one is going to walk in victory and strive toward the likeness of Christ and be freed from the bond of sin. The author of Hebrews says in verse 1 of chapter 12 to throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. This would imply that separation from sin and a strive towards Christ-likeness and Christian perfection are what the author is implying. So, in that sense perfection is emphasized, but perfection can never be complete in this life. John Wesley never claimed to be perfect in this life, but emphasized perfectionism over sinless perfectionism. “Love is the keynote of Wesley’s doctrine of Christian perfection: perfect love toward God and man” (Panosian,126). So, in the same way, we should love others like what Wesley, but more importantly, Christ advocated. For Jesus said that, “all men would know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35, NIV).

Sources Used
Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. Elwell, Walter A.
Christian Theology. Erickson, Millard J.
New Dictionary of Theology. Wright, David F.
John Wesley’s Doctrine of Christain Perfection. Panosian, Edward M.

theBelovedDisciple
Aug 11th 2008, 09:47 PM
Sinless Perfectionism= Jesus the Christ, ie the Son of Man... aka as the Word of God.. and the Word put on Flesh in His Person... He was Truley God in the flesh.... Pure and without Spot.

That......... is Sinless Perfectionism.......... Pure Righteousness and a Gift