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Featured Christian Perfectionism: Proofs Unsuccessful

Discussion in 'General Theology' started by Tree of Life, Oct 15, 2018.

  1. Tree of Life

    Tree of Life Survives on Coffee and Whiskey

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    The Biblical "proofs" put forward in favor of Christian perfectionism are unsuccessful. Christian perfectionism is a doctrine taught by Pelagians, Semi-pelagians, Roman Catholics, some Arminians, some Wesleyans, and some others. It is the idea that a redeemed person can, in this life, attain to a state of sinless perfection wherein they no longer sin. It's a false and unbiblical teaching that diminishes the true requirements of God's Law and misunderstands the profundity of the sinful human heart. Here are the "proofs" often put forth in support of perfectionism and a few brief words as to why they are unsuccessful.

    1. The Bible commands believers to be holy and perfect. Scriptures like Matthew 5:48, James 1:4, and 1 Peter 1:16 (among others) call believers to a life of perfect holiness. Because believers are called to perfection, it is supposed that it is indeed possible and perhaps necessary for believers to reach perfection. The problem with this is that the Scriptural demands for holiness and perfection are not limited to believers. All people - even the unregenerate - are called to be holy and perfect. The Law of God demands holiness from all and it has never been revoked. If the command implies that the one to whom it comes is able to fulfill the command, then we should expect that the unregenerate are also able to be perfect and holy.

    2. Believers are often called "holy" and "perfect" in Scripture. Consider 1 Corinthians 2:6, Ephesians 5:27, Philippians 4:13 and others. If believers are called holy and perfect, it must mean that they are without sin and therefore believers can be without sin. The problem with this, though, is that being called "holy" does not necessarily mean that a person is without sin. Someone may be "holy" in an objective or positional sense but not holy in an existential, moral sense. The Old Testament priests were, for example, holy - set apart for service to God. But this did not mean that they were morally perfect or existentially holy. Likewise, the children of believers are called "holy" in 1 Corinthians 7, but this does not mean that they are without sin.

    3. There are Biblical examples of people who lived perfect lives. Consider Noah, Job, Asa (Genesis 6:9, Job 1:1, 1 Kings 15:14). The problem with this is that the holy men in Scripture are obviously not sinless, these people included. Noah, Moses, Job, Abraham, and all the faithful men of Scripture are presented as very conflicted individuals who have all kinds of faults and unbelief.

    4. John says that those born of God do not sin. 1 John 3:6-9, 1 John 5:18. The problem here though is that John is not saying that a believer cannot or does not commit a sinful act. John is saying that a believer cannot continue in habitual sin as a way of life. John makes it clear elsewhere that believers still have sin in their lives (1 John 1:8-10). Furthermore, the sinless perfectionist cannot use John's words to prove their point because they would end up proving too much. The sinless perfectionist wants to say that sinless perfection is possible. But John would seem to be saying that believers are indeed sinlessly perfect if we take John's words as the sinless perfectionists want us to take them.
     
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  2. TuxAme

    TuxAme Quis ut Deus? Supporter

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    That would be news to me if we taught it.
     
  3. Tree of Life

    Tree of Life Survives on Coffee and Whiskey

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    Roman Catholics have taught since the middle ages that certain men and women by taking up evangelical counsels can not only become perfectly holy and free from sin, but can also go over and above the requirements of God's Law so as to merit grace for others who need it.
     
  4. Halbhh

    Halbhh The wonder and awe of His Creation! Supporter

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    It's a valuable OP post, but on an important part of #1, we should all learn more about what Christ said in Matthew chapter 5, and not think we already know all He said. We need to be humble and listen. It seems to me He is saying that to love an enemy (a hard thing to do!) is 'perfect', meaning to be even that perfect. But we can if we rely on Christ, and look to Him, and remember Him, and what He has done for us. And pray. Then we can, one at a time, with all of His aid. Through Him, from Him, because of Him, relying on Him, we can love an enemy! Try and see! It's a commandment for us. We must forgive others He plainly tells us in order that we be forgiven by our Heavenly Father. And then He tells a parable to make sure you know what He means -- "from the heart"! -- true forgiving.
     
  5. Tree of Life

    Tree of Life Survives on Coffee and Whiskey

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    By the power of the Holy Spirit we can begin to love our enemies. But we can never do so perfectly in this life because of the sin that accompanies all our thoughts and actions.
     
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  6. Halbhh

    Halbhh The wonder and awe of His Creation! Supporter

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    I feel sympathy for what you say here (as being correct), but also feel cautious not to simply endorse it unconditionally, because I know how imperfect our wordings can be at times. 1 John read fully (not just selected passages, but fully) can help also. In the end as we try to make distinctions we should turn and just listen to Christ, and rely on Him, and He works in us. I trust Him. It's enough. I don't have to judge myself (as Paul tell us). I need only search myself and pray for help (such as the wonderful Psalm 139).

    Put another way, there seems to be a degree of mystery involved. It may even involve divine things beyond our ability to pin down and grasp. If so, it's then like Isaiah chapter 55.
     
  7. John Bowen

    John Bowen Active Member Supporter

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    Perfectionism and being a sinner by nature both spring from the mind of anti-christ , Both seek to keep people trapped in being less.Only the Creator is perfect who created man and saw that it was good. Nothing was made that was made . Everything one is out of God's being .Adam and Eve were a symbol what happens when all people fall into separation from their source. No two people could create humanity we know that from science its impossible. To sin is to make a choice of being less than you are .You can undo any sin by making a better choice whereby the sin is forgiven by God otherwise we would just be robots not beings with free will as stated in Genesis : God created man to take dominion .. Why have people been programmed to think they are just miserable sinners ? So they think they don't have aright or good enough to stand up to those who think they are the high and mighty questioning their false doctrines . Thinking people are miserable sinners are saying God who is perfect could have made a mistake in his plan . That comes from the mind of Lucifer who thought God made a mistake giving people free will that the fallen ones knew better than God how everything should be.
     
  8. TuxAme

    TuxAme Quis ut Deus? Supporter

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    Can you cite them?
     
  9. bcbsr

    bcbsr Newbie

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    I think Wesley came up with the term "Christian Perfectionism" or "Perfect Sanctification" in the 18th Century. But he clearly makes a distinction between what he was talking about and sinless perfection being a different thing. So not everyone equates the two terms of "Christian Perfectionism" and "Sinless Perfection".

    A point to be made the "perfect" (GK. "teleios") is often used to refer to maturity. Yet in reality maturity is a matter of degree. And that's how sanctification works in this life, progressively like a child maturing into an adult.

    From Wesley and Finney came Charismatism which made sanctification into a step function rather than a gradient. That is they taught a point in time sudden sanctification by the "second experience" of being baptized with the Holy Spirit, which was incorrect as in reality the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is the same as receiving the Holy Spirit which occurs to all believers at their conversion. But their philosophy led to a "first class/second class" concept of the Christian community, which is found in many sects today, including Free Gracers.

    I agree with you also on your view of 1John 3:6-9, speaking of a believer's lifestyle and not about every event in a believer's life. In fact throughout 1John John uses the present tense to refer to lifestyle and the aorist tense to refer to point in time events, distinguishing between committing a sin versus living in sin.

    I have lessons in 1John bring that out.
     
  10. Not me

    Not me Righteousness is right and not me.

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    But we can attain to the same level Paul descries in;

    1 Corinthians 4:4 (NKJV)
    For I know of nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this; but He who judges me is the Lord.

    Where Paul states “he knows nothing against himself” meaning that he was unaware of any sins in his life. But than he goes on to says that just because he did not know of any, didn’t mean he didn’t have any, it was God that judged him. To be satisfied with any state less then this, is a settle for something “less”.

    Much love in Christ, Not me
     
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  11. Halbhh

    Halbhh The wonder and awe of His Creation! Supporter

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    That reminds me of Paul's letter to the Philippians (the only congregation that was supporting him with funds at that time) --

    12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.


    It's so striking -- even though they are already converted, already obeying the right way, even still they are instructed to continue to "work out your salvation with fear and trembling."

    !

    In case we might ignore this, Paul continues a later in this letter:

    10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

    12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

    Look at those words: "Not that I have already obtained..."!
    It's not the version of already-saved, already-accomplished, we hear too often today in some preaching is it?

    Christ has done what none of us could ever do for ourselves, but we still are to do something!

    Your 2nd paragraph also reminded me of Philippians as quoted above.
     
  12. PuerAzaelis

    PuerAzaelis Active Member Supporter

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    The very structure of my being is such that it postulates categorically the existence of God or infinite perfectibility, freedom or morality as such, and the immortality of the soul or the possibility of infinite perfectioning.
     
  13. Tree of Life

    Tree of Life Survives on Coffee and Whiskey

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    Sure. Which part of what I said would you like citation for?
     
  14. icxn

    icxn Bραδύγλωσσος αἰπόλος μαθητεύων κνίζειν συκάμινα

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    What of St Stephen? He died forgiving the people who killed him. Isn't that the perfect loving of ones enemies?
     
  15. justbyfaith

    justbyfaith justified sinner

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    To the Original Poster (@Tree of Life), I wonder if you could give explanation of the following verses together:

    1 John 3:7, 1 John 3:3, 1 John 2:6.

    Jude 1:24 and 2 Peter 1:10-11 are also of interest to me as to what your understanding might be.

    Since I am kjv-superior in my understanding, could you please give your understanding of them as they are rendered by the kjv?

    1 John 3:7, Little children, let no man decieve you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.

    1 John 3:3, And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.

    1 John 2:6, He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.

    Jude 1:24, Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy.

    2 Peter 1:10-11,
    Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall; For so an entrance shall be ministered to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2018
  16. concretecamper

    concretecamper Member of His Church

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    I know really. Typical veiled attack against His Church by setting up a false narrative. We should all be used to this tactic that he has been using for quite some time.
     
  17. FireDragon76

    FireDragon76 Ship of Fools Supporter

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    Yeah, the Council of Orange condemned the doctrine of sinless perfection, at least inasmuch as a person no longer needs grace. As near as I can tell, Catholics, Lutherans, and Presbyterians are all on the same page here.

    Catholics talk about "perfection", but I don't think they mean sinless perfection such that a person no longer needs God's grace.
     
  18. FireDragon76

    FireDragon76 Ship of Fools Supporter

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    As noble as that is, I'm not sure it's "perfect" in some sort of Platonic sense. After all, Jesus died saving the whole world, after all. How can you get more perfect than that?

    I would submit the doctor who works treating Ebola patients is just as much loving towards his neighbor as somebody who dies at the hands of his enemies and forgives them.

    It's ironic because today's Gospel reading was about James and John arguing about who was greatest in the kingdom. Jesus has to set his disciples straight and point out that the whole idea of greatness isn't part of God's kingdom.
     
  19. justbyfaith

    justbyfaith justified sinner

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    To the Original Poster (@Tree of Life), I wonder if you could give explanation of the following verses together:

    1 John 3:7, 1 John 3:3, 1 John 2:6.

    Jude 1:24 and 2 Peter 1:10-11 are also of interest to me as to what your understanding might be.

    Since I am kjv-superior in my understanding, could you please give your understanding of them as they are rendered by the kjv?

    1 John 3:7, Little children, let no man decieve you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.

    1 John 3:3, And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.

    1 John 2:6, He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.

    Jude 1:24, Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy.

    2 Peter 1:10-11,
    Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall; For so an entrance shall be ministered to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
     
  20. DeaconDean

    DeaconDean γέγονα χαλκὸς, κύμβαλον ἀλαλάζον

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    John Wesley never taught Christian Perfection. He did, however use the phrase "moving on to perfection".

    Face facts, there are some groups that teach this is a very attainable goal in this lifetime. That is a fact.

    However, I also want to point out that even scriptures tell us that the only time we (Christians) will be made "perfect" just like our Savior, is the day He returns and we are made just like Him:

    "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is." -1 Jn. 3:2 (KJV)

    We also know that scriptures are specific. Paul, was educated as a Pharisee:

    "I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day." -Acts 22:3 (KJV)

    So when it came to the Law, none of the disciples (Apostles) knew the Law better than him. The only person who knew the Law better than him was the Author of it, Jesus.

    Anyhow, it was Paul who also said:

    "And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law;" -1 Cor. 9:20 (KJV)

    John Gill comments:

    "1 Corinthians 9:20

    And unto the Jews I became as a Jew

    That is, in religion; or with respect to some religious observances peculiar to the Jews, for he himself was really a Jew by nature; who became as one unto them in this sense, when he for their sakes circumcised Timothy at Derbe, or Lystra, purified himself at Jerusalem, shaved his head at Cenchrea, observed their sabbath, and abstained from some sorts of food forbidden in the law; and his end in so doing was, not to confirm them in such usages, but that he might hereby have the greater influence over them, and by little and little bring them off of these things,"

    Source

    So, Paul voluntarily placed himself back under the demands of the Law for the sake of the Jews, that he might gain the Jews.

    Now, jump to Acts 23, there we read.

    "Then said Paul unto him, God shall smite thee, thou whited wall: for sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law? And they that stood by said, Revilest thou God's high priest? Then said Paul, I wist not, brethren, that he was the high priest: for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people." -Acts 23:3-5 (KJV)

    Paul, who KNEW the Law, broke it, in the presence of Jewish leadership in that:

    "Thou shalt not revile the gods, nor curse the ruler of thy people." -Ex. 22:28 (KJV)

    I would like to know if hypocrisy is a sin? I believe it is.

    "Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal? Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege?" -Rom. 2:21-22 (KJV)

    When in Galatia, Paul stood up to Peter saying:

    "But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision...I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?" -Gal. 2:11-12, 14 (KJV)

    Peter, the first Pope, with all due respect, was guilty of hypocrisy.

    Why is that important? Because both men, one who had seen with his own eyes, witnessed the miracles, walked, talked, and was taught by the Lord, Jesus Christ, and one who had a personal experience with Jesus on the Damascus road, shows us that even Christians can, will, and do sin.

    I would also ask, has the Christ event in your life, so eradicated sin in your life that you CANNOT sin again?

    The book of Hebrews tells us:

    "let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us," -Heb. 12:1 (KJV)

    John Gill comments:

    "and the sin which doth so easily beset us;
    the Arabic version renders it, "easy to be committed"; meaning either the corruption of nature in general, which is always present, and puts upon doing evil, and hinders all the good it can; or rather some particular sin, as what is commonly called a man's constitution sin, or what he is most inclined to, and is most easily drawn into the commission of; or it may be the sin of unbelief is intended, that being opposite to the grace of faith, the apostle had been commending, in the preceding chapter, and he here exhorts to; and is a sin which easily insinuates itself, and prevails, and that sometimes under the notion of a virtue, as if it would be immodest, or presumptuous to believe; the arguments for it are apt to be readily and quickly embraced; but as every weight, so every sin may be designed: some reference may be had to ( Lamentations 1:14 ) where the church says, that her transgressions were "wreathed", (wgrtvy) , "wreathed themselves", or wrapped themselves about her. The allusion seems to be to runners in a race, who throw off everything that encumbers, drop whatsoever is ponderous and weighty, run in light garments, and lay aside long ones, which entangle and hinder in running, as appears from the next clause, or inference."

    Source

    "Christian perfectionism" tries to fool us into thinking this is an attainable goal in this life. But the simple fact is that "sin" was something Paul admits to struggling with in his life.

    "Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me...Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me." -Rom. 7:17,20 (KJV)

    And not only that, but one of the "hidden dangers" of "Christian perfectionism" is that lets say you lose your mind, drives you over the edge, somebody hurts or kills one of your children. You unable to control yourself, strike out and kill them. You have sinned. Do we also not read:

    "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 Jn. 3:6-9 (KJV)

    If we take these verse just "as is" as it been thrown up in my fact, then we must also conclude that neither Paul nor Peter were saved because their accidental "sin" came after the Christ event in their lives.

    That is the "fruit" of Christian Perfectionism!

    There has been one and only person who lived sin-free in this world. And neither Peter nor Paul were Him.

    And since the Cross, no man alive has EVER attained that mark.

    Sorry.

    God Bless

    Till all are one.
     
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