Is Sinless Perfection Possible in
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
|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."
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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
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
"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
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,"
"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).
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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
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
"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).
in all points (Hebrews 4:15).
into His rest (See Psalms 95:11; Hebrews 3:11,18,19).
without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17, 18).
have sinned (Romans 3:23).
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
which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which
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
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
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
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
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
manifest that they were not all of us.
20 But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all
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:
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
in the Son, and in the Father.
25 And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal
26 These things have I written unto you concerning them that
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
and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide
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
righteousness is born of him. (1 John 2:1 In context: 1 John 2:1-2)