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About Georgia 
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Up Way Publications 35th Anniversary
Message Of The Month
Volume 4 No.                                                                                                                                 June 18, 2001
About Sinning and Christians 

Is Sinless Perfection Possible in God's Eyes?

Based on a dialog between several brethren on a Mailing List for Oneness Apostolics It has been thoroughly edited to protect the original writers' views and their names have been omitted. The original is on file and credits can be given if any of the writers so desire. 

Samuel M. Smith, Editor
It is scriptural to believe in sinless perfection and that we can attain to it, at least for short periods of our lives which with practice become longer and longer. As we focus on pleasing the Lord Jesus instead of ourselves, we cannot help but become less and less sinful in God's eyes and more and therefore, more perfectly sinless.

I also believe that there have been several lengthy periods of my life during which I could have said "Yes" before God that I was praying, studying, reading, witnessing and letting my light shine to a degree that I believe I was without sin for that period. But both before and since, I also know that I have gone through periods of fatigue, of self-pity, of busy-ness with what I thought I needed to do in the natural that I have not always prayed as I ought, witnessed as I ought nor studied as I ought. There have even been times when I complained instead of giving thanks or rejoicing. And yes, "Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin." (James 4:17). Therefore I sinned. 

And today, though I do make very serious efforts to do all I know I should, I do fall short very often -- far too often -- of that sinless perfection in which I so strongly believe and which I have for limited periods of time lived. 

"...but I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that 
which I have committed unto Him against that day." (2 Timothy 1:12b). I have committed my life and my all to Him. I am a Child of the King. Hallelujah! I am a joint-heir with Jesus Christ. This is one of the reasons why Jesus had to come and live as a man, so that He could be tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin. 

I look at my Lord sound asleep in the boat as the storm arose and the disciples feared for their lives to the point of waking Him up. Shouldn't He have stayed awake and been 
teaching them more truths? Wasn't there more they could have learned? Of course there was. Was He sinning? 

No. He was fulfilling the needs of the physical, human body in which He was residing. And as He did so, He showed us that resting is needful to the human body. In fact, we Pentecostals are really quite negligent as a whole when it comes to "...entering into His rest...." If, as here in Hawaii, the church borrows or rents another church facility, or a school cafetorium, services may not be the Sunday morning, Sunday evening schedule that we are accustomed to. You would 

be surprised at how many Pentecostals work at housework or fish or do repairs that didn't get done during the other 6 days. But the Seventh Day Adventists have it right that we should keep one day every week to rest as God ordained -- for OUR human body's needed rest. 

True, Jesus made reasonable exceptions, but He also said that the Sabbath was made for 
Man, meaning for our health, and that we were not made for the Sabbath.

The Bible does show us that no man, saint or sinner, in this life will ever completely and perfectly conquer sin." Not on the long haul. 
But neither is it really in agreement with scripture that  "you have to sin a little every day." However, it is in agreement with the Bible that no man, saint or sinner, in this life will ever completely and perfectly conquer sin. The Apostle John advises, "My little children,  these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin,  we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:" (1 John 2:1). In other words, we should not sin, but if we do, Jesus is our attorney to plead our case. Now it is not to convince Almighty God the Father not to clobber us for our wrongdoing but to defend us, Oriental style as the Judge who is on the side of the defendant and Satan is our accuser, the prosecutor. There are other places in which I have dealt with this subject at length, so will not do so here.

But for days, weeks or even months, if we are really prayed up and fired up in the Holy Spirit, we can live that period without sin, whether by commission or omission. The important thing is that we always strive to attain that perfection and not give up because of an attitude of, "Oh, well, I can't do it, so what is the use." This is the balance. We strive for perfection, we pray without ceasing, we rejoice evermore, in everything, we give thanks for as long as our human frame allows. When we fail, know that even as our earthly children stumble and fall and spill things and even sometimes defy us, they are still our children and we still love them -- even if a spanking is needful! Our love for our children is but a faint reflection of God's love toward us.

One of the brothers in the discussion is right to comment, "It does NOT mean that if you commit a single act of sin, that you are not 'walking in the Spirit.' Because if you are walking in the Spirit, you will feel a prick that tells you it was sin and you have the reminder to immediately repent. If you are not walking in the Spirit, you do not feel the prick, do not hear the still, small voice, and continue on unrepentant."

Continued on Page 2
 
About Sinning and Christians - Is Sinless Perfection Possible in God's Eyes?
Continued from Page 1


And as John said, anybody who claims he is sinlessly perfect, is deceiving himself. "
This brother then asks the usual question:  "Can you stand before us today and before God Himself and tell us positively that everything you know that you should be doing, without qualification..., you are doing?  Are you giving to every cause you know you should support....are you witnessing to every person you know you should witness to...are you doing every good deed that you know needs to be done that you have power to do?  If not, then my friend, in the view of God, YOU ARE SINNING." He then quotes, "Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin" (James 4:17). And this brother goes on to say, "If you are not doing EVERY good thing you know you could theoretically do... if you are not witnessing to EVERY SINGLE person that you know you should witness to....then it's sin!  You say, "Well that's absurd; it would be impossible to live life like that!" And that, folks, is the whole point. It IS absolutely impossible for us to live life as finite humans in sinless perfection." 

This brother then asks, "So what do the passages that another brother quoted, about walking in the Spirit rather than in the flesh mean? As I said yesterday, it refers to the general direction of your life. And that is the point."

And I would point out that 

"It does NOT mean that if you commit a single act of sin, that you are not "walking in the Spirit."   Otherwise, then each time you fail to witness to a person you know needs it...you're walking in the flesh. Rather, walking in the Spirit corresponds to what John called "walking in the Light"  in I. John. And as I showed yesterday, John clearly showed it is possible for somebody who is walking in the light to commit a sin WHILE WALKING IN THE LIGHT. Because he says that the ONLY people who are forgiven of their sins are those who are (present tense) walking in the light." 

----- Original Message -----
From: Tom Raddatz
Sent: Wednesday, June 13, 2001 12:39 PM
To: higher-fire@prairienet.org
Subject: Re: sinner?
      As I often am, I'm in agreement with Bro Sam on this subject. Here, I believe, are a few more good points I haven't seen made yet though.

As far as "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God" yes, that's true. But the point is, and the fact remains- "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me."

So yes "I" do continue to come short of the glory of God and that is precisely why I don't walk after "I" but after Christ that is in "me".

Now, if and when I come short of the glory of God, the simple fact is- it is when I am walking after "I" (that is my flesh) and not after the Spirit of Christ that is in me-
"This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh." (Galatians 5:16).

That is very clear. The opposite is likewise as clear. If you walk in the flesh you "will not" be able to "do the things you would".

"For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would," (Galatians 5:17).
"And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts." (Galatians 5:24).

"There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
4  "That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." (Romans 8:1, 4).

This was the "answer" that Paul gave to his point- "For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me." (Romans 7:19,20)

He didn't say anywhere that we were hopelessly bound to keep sinning every day. He offered us the way out, the solution to the dilemma, which is our hope, and which is the hope we have to offer to the world-

"O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin." (Romans 7:24).

Now, some might say here that Paul is saying his flesh continues to serve sin. But that is false. Forget about a break in chapter and verse and Paul completely refutes such a perspective.

"There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, WHO WALK NOT AFTER THE FLESH, BUT AFTER THE SPIRIT. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, WHO WALK NOT AFTER THE FLESH, BUT AFTER THE SPIRIT. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit," (Romans 8:1-4).

"For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God."  (Romans 8:13, 14)

Continued on Page 3
About Sinning and Christians - Is Sinless Perfection Possible in God's Eyes?
Continued from Page 2
If you live after the flesh, Paul says, then you are obeying the law of sin. But if you walk after the Spirit you will NOT fulfill the lusts of the flesh. It's that simple.

"What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness." (Romans 6:15 -18).

Now as to the scripture that says "if any man say he have no sin," this does NOT say "if any man say he no longer 'commits' sin" it says if any man says he "possesses" no sin (ie sin nature) that man is a liar. This perfectly correlates with Paul when he said- "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." (Romans 7:18). In Paul's 'flesh' he could not find how to perform that which is good. Was then Paul without hope?
Or did Paul here deny that Jesus Christ was in him? No. He simply acknowledged that his sinful human nature was still resident within his flesh. This is why he said with his mind he serves the law of the Spirit. Does that mean that his "body," his "flesh" could not be kept from committing sin? No, he addressed that very clearly in Rom. 6- "Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?" (Romans 6:16).

In fact Paul was very clear that he was able to kept his body in subjection- "But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway." (1 Corinthians 9:27).
 

Could Paul say this if he continued to sin the same old sins every day? Especially considering the outcome he gave here if he didn't? I think- obviously not.

It is very clear then, whose servant we are when we sin. Let's not mince words. If we are going to quote John when he says "if any man say he has no sin" let's also remember to qualify what he meant by that because John also wrote that: "Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God."  (1 John 3:6-9)

So then, according to both Paul and John, even though we are "born again" we still have the sin nature resident in us. But if we are of God we will not walk after the flesh and if and when we walk after the Spirit we will not commit sin. But if we continue to walk after the flesh in sin, then very simply, we are not of God.

"For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God
10  And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
14  For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. (Romans 8:6-8,10,14).
      <snip>
      Amen.
God bless,
      Bro. Tom

ENDNOTES: 
tempted in all points (Hebrews 4:15).
entering into His rest (See Psalms 95:11; Hebrews 3:11,18,19).
pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17, 18).
all have sinned (Romans 3:23).
I am crucified (Galatians 2:20).

       1 John 2  (KJV)
       1   My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man
       sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:
       2   And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins
       of the whole world.
       3   And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.
       4   He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the
       truth is not in him.
       5   But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby
       know we that we are in him.
       6   He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.
       7   Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment
       which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have
       heard from the beginning.
       8   Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in
       you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth.
       9   He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until
       now.
       10   He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of
       stumbling in him.
       11   But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and
       knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.
       12   I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his
       name's sake.
       13   I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the
       beginning. I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked
       one. I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father.
       14   I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the
       beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the
       word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.
       15   Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the
       world, the love of the Father is not in him.
       16   For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the
       pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
       17   And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of
       God abideth for ever.
       18   Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall
       come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last
       time.
       19   They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they
       would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made
       manifest that they were not all of us.
       20   But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things.
       21   I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye
       know it, and that no lie is of the truth.
       22   Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that
       denieth the Father and the Son.
       23   Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: he that
       acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also.
       24   Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that
       which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue
       in the Son, and in the Father.
       25   And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life.
       26   These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you.
       27   But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need
       not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things,
       and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.
       28   And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have
       confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.
       29   If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth
       righteousness is born of him. (1 John 2:1 In context: 1 John 2:1-2)
 

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