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The Dangers of “Sinless Perfection” Doctrine

By Reese Currie, Compass Distributors

I’ve been receiving an increased volume of e-mail lately from proponents of “sinless perfection” doctrine in response to my article, “Can We Live Sin Free?” None of these supposedly sinless folks offer any argumentation from the Bible, since the doctrine they espouse can’t be found there, but yet they seem quite concerned that I’m doing terrible things to peoples’ Christian walk in maintaining that humans never attain sinless perfection. I am, according to one writer, “an agent of Satan” holding back the true believers in Christ, and should “seek God and be taught of Him.”

Obviously, another article on this is required, since the first, although quite laden with Biblical facts on the matter, does not dissuade these people from e-mailing me to label me a heretic, unknowledgeable, and “Satan’s agent.” So, I offer these facts about people who advocate “sinless perfection.”

Advocates of Sinless Perfection Do Not Believe the Bible.

James writes, “For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body” (James 3:2). So, is James not saying here that a man can indeed be perfect? No, because only a few verses later, he comments, “But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:8).

There are two things about sinless perfection to be drawn from James’ comments. First off, James is stating that no man can tame even the tongue to the point of perfection, let alone his whole body. Advocates of sinless perfection are calling James a liar and are calling the Scripture a lie in this instance.

The second thing to note is that James is using the example of a man being perfect as a ridiculous impossibility in his writing. He is stating that all men stumble in their words, and he says anyone who claims otherwise is claiming something as ridiculous as personal sinless perfection. Advocates of sinless perfection actually believe the very thing that James cites as a ridiculous, impossible example.

Certainly we should strive to tame the tongue. We should do the best we possibly can in all areas of life. But it is unrealistic to expect perfection when the Bible itself plainly says such perfection is impossible.

Advocates of Sinless Perfection Do Not Have the Same Religion as the Early Church

Look carefully at the first part of James 3:2. It says, “For we all stumble in many things.” The “we” here refers to Christians. James is identifying himself with “all” the Christians he writes to, stating directly that neither he, nor they, are perfect. “We all stumble in many things.” Since advocates of sinless perfection do not believe they stumble in anything, they disassociate themselves from James—and they are therefore not a part of the Christian religion. James was inarguably a part of the Christian religion, but advocates of sinless perfection refuse to be included in James’ comments toward all Christians, including himself.

Advocates of Sinless Perfection Are Spiritually Dead.

People who think they are sinless are obviously experiencing no conviction for sin whatsoever. They believe themselves to be perfect in every way and incapable of sinning. Scripture has already demonstrated that people who do not believe they are sinning are mistaken. In fact, Scripture paints a bleak picture for anyone who is under the delusion that they are without sin.

1John 1:8 states simply, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” People who are oblivious to the fact that they still have sin do not have the Spirit of truth within them. There is no light shining to expose the darkness of their souls.

There is sin in everyone, but how can we explain that a subculture within Christendom, the “sinless perfection” crowd, feels no conviction for the sin they have whatsoever? It is easily explained. Hebrews 12:7-8 says, “If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.”

The Holy Spirit convicts the real children of God for their sins. But fakes, even if they do not realize they are fakes, receive no conviction because, since they are not God’s sons, God does not discipline them.

Two points here point definitively to a condition of spiritual death for people who believe in sinless perfection. First, the truth does not reside in people who say they have no sin. Second, people who never feel conviction for their sins have never been adopted by the Father; they may think they are sons, but they are not.

Advocates of Sinless Perfection Refuse to Repent of Present Sin.

1John 1:8-10 says, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just 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 very act of claiming to be sinless is a sin in itself, as this Scripture so ably demonstrates. A person claiming not to have sin deceives himself or herself, and in effect calls Christ a liar.

Being cleared of sin is so simple! All we have to do is confess that we have sinned, and our sin is forgiven and we are cleansed of our unrighteousness. The problem is, a person who considers himself or herself to be sinless cannot confess sin. To confess sinning would run contrary to their belief that they have sinless perfection. So, because they will not admit that they are indeed sinners, they cannot have the forgiveness that is in Jesus Christ.

Jesus is for Sinners, Not for the Sinless.

Jesus said it so well: “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (Luke 5:32). And yet, the Bible says no one is righteous: “As it is written: ‘There is none righteous, no, not one;’” (Romans 3:10). So what did Jesus mean? He meant He did not come for people who claimed to be righteous, He came for those who knew they were sinners. He did not come for the self-righteous; He came for those who would repent, knowing that they needed Him.

Some correspondents have accused me of encouraging Christians to keep on sinning since they cannot be “perfect” and “sinless.” It isn’t my aim to make people sin, but it is my aim to make people recognize reality: they will never be perfect as long as they have a “flesh” component. Unless people will confess this, they have no need of Jesus—and will not get to have Him.

The Struggle is the Proof of Salvation.

When we are saved, a battle begins between our saved soul and our unsaved body. Paul writes of this battle that continues within us even after our salvation, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of 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 7:18-25).

As long as any person has flesh, that flesh will be serving sin. It will always be warring against the spiritual mind. We will be delivered from this sin completely only when we are delivered from “this body of death.” It is only at that point that the Christian is “completely sanctified.”

The absence of this struggle between body and soul means that the body has won and the soul is actually given over to sinfulness. The flesh does not become justified! So if the struggle between body and soul ends, it can only be because the flesh has won.

Closing Words.

Those who think they have attained “sinless perfection” are the most unfortunate of us all. Not only do they remain sinners, contrary to their claim, but because they refuse to admit their sinfulness, they cannot avail themselves of Jesus Christ through repentance, to forgive them and to help them do better.

The Dangers of “Sinless Perfection” Doctrine is Copyright © 2001 by Compass Distributors.

All Scripture taken from The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Inc.), 1982

http://www.compassdistributors.ca/topics/sinless.htm

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There are several steps to becoming Born Again, listed below:

1. Understand that ALL men ever born are sinners. Romans 3:23, says, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” This message that all men are sinners is amply repeated through Scripture . This means you are a sinner in the eyes of an angry God, Who must punish all sin. Do you believe you are a sinner?

2. Since man is an imperfect sinner, and God is a perfect God, no man can save himself. Jesus made this fact very plain in Matthew 5:48, when He said, “Be ye, therefore, perfect, even as your Heavenly Father is perfect.”!!!
If we all have to be perfect in God’s eyes, how can there be anyone in Heaven, especially since the Bible declares, repeatedly, that ALL people are sinners? Obviously, no one is going to get to Heaven this way, by trying to be ‘good enough’ to merit Heaven. Since the Bible says there are going to be untold millions of people in Heaven, there must be some other way to get there, other than by trying to be ‘good enough’.

You must also be very sorry for your sins, and want to have them forgiven. This is known as Repentance. The word Repent means to both be very sorry for your sins, and to want to not sin anymore. Repentance means the desire to turn your life around 180 degrees. This does not mean you will never sin again, but it does mean that sin will become the exception in your life, not the rule.

3. When the sinless Son of God, Jesus Christ, shed His precious blood on the cross at Calvary, He died for the sins of His people in their place as a sacrificial substitute. And in doing so, He suffered the wrath of God the Father upon their sin. He paid the penalty for that sin in His own body and purchased their eternal redemption. This enables Him to give as a free gift His own holiness and righteousness to those who believe in Him and trust Him for salvation. making them absolutely perfect in God. s sight! Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” None of us deserve to be saved; in His love and mercy God extends grace to those who will believe. Grace is defined as “undeserved favor” and perhaps this little acrostic will help you to remember its meaning: G od. s Riches At Christ. s Expense. [The true meaning of GRACE]

4. In Ephesians 2:8-9, the Apostle Paul reiterates this teaching that eternal life with God is a free gift. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God; Not of works, lest any man should boast.” No man can stand before God in eternity, and boast that they ‘earned’ their way to Heaven. All people in Heaven will be there only because of Jesus’ FREE Gift, which He obtained from God because of His substitutionary death sacrifice on the Cross. Rather than punishing each person’s individual sins, God heaped all those sins on Jesus on the Cross Isaiah 53:2-12]

Now, you are probably thinking, ‘How can I obtain this free gift of eternal life’? Again, the Bible is not silent. In Acts 16:25-33, the jailer anxiously asked Paul, “What must I do to be saved”? Paul answered “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved …” verse 31″. You must BELIEVE on Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior. To truly believe, you must place your complete faith and trust in Christ and rely upon Him as your only hope of salvation and eternal life. This is a matter of the heart and you cannot hope to deceive God by putting on an act because He knows everything about you. Many people mistakenly think that by merely believing the facts concerning Jesus Christ. s death, burial, and resurrection, they will be automatically be given the gift of eternal life. But such is not the case. Preachers call that a “head knowledge and not a heart knowledge.” Salvation is freely given, but only to those who are genuine believers.

5. In John 1:1, 14, we see that Jesus Christ is God, equal with God, present with God from before the beginning of time, and the actual Creator of the Universe. He is 100% God and 100% human at the same time, which is why He used both titles during His ministry, Son of God and Son of Man. To become Born Again, you must believe this doctrine about Jesus Christ.

Verse 14 is most important, the teaching that Jesus God became man. This teaching becomes a point of separation between the followers of Christ and Antichrist. In 1 John 4:1-3, we see that anyone who denies that Jesus has come in the flesh is the spirit of antichrist. That is just what the Gnostics of that day were saying, i.e., that Jesus the human was not God Messiah come in the flesh; rather, the ‘Christ Consciousness’ the ‘Messiah’ Consciousness, came on Jesus at His baptism and left Him on the Cross; they believe Jesus was not God and Man. The New Age Movement and Freemasonry have resurrected this blasphemy with a vengeance.

6. Isaiah 53:6 foretells exactly what Jesus Christ did for us on the Cross; “the Lord [God the Father] has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” Praise God!! Only the Wisdom, Grace, and Power of God Almighty could conceive of such a gracious Plan of Salvation!! God’s Nature is such that sin must be punished. Period! But, God set up a Plan whereby an innocent substitute was to be punished instead of the guilty person. In the Old Testament, God allowed the lamb to be the substitute sacrifice for sin; Jesus then became the ultimate substitute sacrifice, for all the sins of the world. His was the Perfect sacrifice, that never needs to be repeated, and that saves all people forever more.

You must believe in, and understand, this principle of Substitute Punishment, before you can become Born Again. And, you must believe that Jesus Christ became the Perfect Substitute Punishment for YOU, before you can become Born Again.

Now that you understand these Truths, and believe them for your life, you now need to understand how you can obtain this FREE Gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ. After all, if I were to attempt to give you a FREE gift, that gift would not become yours if you were to refuse to reach out and take that gift from my hand. So it is here. You must reach out and take this FREE Gift of Eternal Life from the hand of Jesus Christ. How is this done?

Through Saving Faith .

Notice I said Saving Faith . There are types of faith that will not get you saved. You may have ‘head knowledge’ faith that merely intellectually assents to the facts of Jesus Christ’s person, but that is not Saving Faith. You may be in a ‘church’ or a cult that teaches many truths about Jesus Christ, but who teach that you must do many things to earn your way to Heaven. This is not Saving Faith.

Saving Faith is trusting in Jesus Christ, and Him alone, for your Salvation.

If you think you need to do anything for Salvation except trust in Jesus work on the cross, you are guilty of violating Ephesians 2:8-9 and Isaiah 53:6b. Most cults and false Christian religions err at this point; they add things that are “necessary” for Salvation, or they offer a counterfeit way to Heaven, i.e., Salvation by Baptism.

Do you want this Gift of Eternal Life that Jesus left Heaven and died on a cross to give you? If your answer is, ‘Yes’, you can immediately have Eternal Life.

Let me clarify exactly what this involves. First, you are going to transfer your trust, your hope of eternal life from what you have been doing to what Jesus Christ has done for you on the cross. Jesus will take your sin and transfer TO YOU His right standing with God the Father, what we call His righteousness . This means that though we have failed repeatedly to keep God’s commandments, Christ perfectly obeyed all the laws of God. He lived the perfect life, so He could be the perfect, innocent substitutionary sacrifice that God would accept for your sins, and the sin of the entire world, for all who will believe.

http://www.cuttingedge.org/news/salvation.html !!!!!!!!

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As a member of the historic Christian Church, I answer this resolution in the affirmative: Yes, salvation is accomplished wholly without human effort.

 

I will prove that salvation is escape from the bondage of sin and the deserved judgment of God, through no human effort, but wholly on the basis of Christ’s atoning death on the cross.

I will use the Bible as my source of authority. It has a consistent doctrine of salvation, and its trustworthiness has been confirmed by Jesus’ words, validated by his bodily resurrection from the dead.

This resolution does not concern the Mormon doctrine of “unconditional or general salvation,” that is, what Mormon doctrine considers synonymous with immortality. Everyone, according to Mormonism, will be resurrected: not everyone will be exalted. Mormon apostle Bruce McConkie said, “But this is not the salvation of righteousness, the salvation which the Saints seek . . . . Salvation, in its true and full meaning, is synonymous with exaltation or eternal life and consists in getting an inheritance in the highest of the three heavens within the celestial kingdom. With few exceptions this is the salvation of which the scriptures speak.”

This resolution also does not concern whether or not it is possible to lose one’s salvation. The question is, how is salvation accomplished, not how salvation is lost.

Salvation is being rescued from the deserved wrath of God. Romans 5:9 says, “Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.”

The alternative to salvation is destruction (Philippians 1:28), and eternal, conscious punishment (Matthew 25:46).

The moment of conversion is considered to be the moment of salvation, as Titus 3:5- 7 points out: “. . . not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” We are in need of rescue from the deserved wrath of God because we are bound by sin, both the sin guilt we inherited from Adam, and the weight of our own sins (Romans 3:23; 5:12-14).

Man is bound by sin. In Romans 3:9 Paul says, “we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin.” Galatians 3:22 declares, “But the Scripture has confined all under sin.”

This bondage comes in part from our representative participation in Adam’s original sin and in part from our own sins, as Romans 5:12 clearly states, “through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.”

Man cannot free himself from this bondage to sin, as Paul makes it clear in Romans 3:11-12 (quoting Psalm 5:9): “There is none righteous, no not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all gone out of the way; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.”

Atonement means the reconciliation of the guilty to God by divine sacrifice, that of Jesus Christ on the cross.

There are four results of the atonement:

 

  1. The guilt of sin is transferred from the sinner to Christ (2 Corinthians 5:2).
  2. The guilt of sin is removed from the sinner (1 Corinthians 6:11).
  3. Forgiveness is granted by God to the sinner (Romans 4:6-7).
  4. Righteousness is imputed (credited) by God to the sinner (Romans 10:3-4; Philippians 3:9). The word translated impute in English is the Greek logizomai, meaning “to reckon, impute, credit to one’s account.”

Christ’s role in the atonement includes

 

  1. He becomes our ransom sacrifice (Matthew 20:28).
  2. He dies in our place (1 Peter 3:18).
  3. He dies for our sins (1 Peter 2:24).
  4. He reconciles us to God (Romans 5:10).

Because Christ’s atonement accomplishes all this, there is nothing left for us to do. All of our sins are forgiven, atoned for, and covered by Christ’s one sacrifice on the cross. No human effort can add to Christ’s all-sufficiency. As Hebrews 7 reminds us, “Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him. . . . who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.”

Justification means accounting the guilty just before God. The New Testament Greek term is dikaioo, to be acquitted, pronounced and treated as righteous. 2 Corinthians 5:21 declares, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

Justification is initiated by God’s action, not man’s. Romans 4:5, speaking of Abraham as representative of all mankind, says, “But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness.”

Faith is not a human work or effort (Ephesians 2:8), but is the divinely prompted heart-response of the individual (Romans 10:9-10) to the gospel (Acts 15:7-11).

Faith and repentance are corollary to salvation, meaning they accompany salvation, but they are not the cause of salvation (Acts 11:18; Acts 5:31).

Sanctification is how the Christian lives his newly justified life. Justification is completed at conversion (Ephesians 2:5); sanctification begins at conversion (Philippians 1:6; Hebrews 10:38-39).

One who has been saved (Ephesians 2:8) produces good works as a result of salvation, not a cause of salvation (Ephesians 4:1, 13). Ephesians 4:23-24 declares, “be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in righteousness and true holiness.”

The Bible clearly teaches that salvation is accomplished wholly apart from human effort or work:

 

  1. Ephesians 2:8-10: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
  2. Romans 4:4-5: “Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness.”
  3. Titus 3:5: “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit. . . . “
  4. Galatians 3:21-22: “For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law. But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise of salvation by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.”

Passages associating works with salvation do not teach that works contribute to or cause salvation. Some of the most common misinterpreted by Mormons and others include

 

  1. James 2:14-16: “Faith without works is dead.” This passage does not teach that salvation is accomplished by any human effort, but instead that no one can see one’s faith without works. James uses Abraham as his example, just as Paul did in Romans 4. However, James discusses how one’s actions “justify” him before other men, and Paul discusses justification before God (how one becomes saved).
  2. Acts 2:37-39: “Be baptized for the remission of sins and be saved.” This passage does not teach that baptism is necessary for salvation, but in context it teaches that baptism accompanies salvation, or, as it is sometimes paraphrased to accurately reflect the Greek, “Be baptized on account of the remission of your sins, being saved.”
  3. John 6:29: “Jesus answered and said to them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.'” Far from teaching salvation by human effort, this affirms, especially in the Greek, that even our ability to believe in Him comes from the work by God enabling us to believe in Him.
  4. All of the other verses often misinterpreted as teaching salvation requiring human effort do not actually or contextually support such an interpretation. Instead, the Bible consistently teaches that no one is saved by works, but works are considered in every judgment pictured in the New Testament, as an evidence of salvation or lack of salvation, not as a cause of salvation. As the Old Lutheran phrase goes, “Faith alone saves, but saving faith is never alone.”

The Bible is God’s perfect Word, and it clearly and consistently teaches that salvation is accomplished wholly without human effort. Verses misinterpreted to teach the necessity of human effort in securing salvation actually show that works follow salvation, they do not cause it.

On the basis of the argumentation and biblical evidence presented here, I affirm the resolution: Yes, salvation is accomplished wholly without human effort.

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Do you believe that sanctification brought on through your efforts (repentance) is a requirement for salvation?