The Double Headed Serpent
Sin is a relentless enemy that confronts the saint of God relentlessly. When least expected, it appears in the form of trials, temptations, and tribulations. Sin’s goal is to draw us away from our loving relationship with Jesus Christ. Be diligent, saint of God. Stand guard against the dangers of the double-headed serpent of sinless perfection and spiritual complacency.
Sinless perfection comes alongside the child of God well-dressed in the pristine white robes of spiritual dedication. Sinless perfection—also known as entire sanctification or Christian perfectionism—presents the idea that it is possible for us to achieve a level of righteousness in which we have, in this present life, totally conquered sin. “Spiritual warfare is no longer needed for we have arrived,” so they say. “We are perfect.”
Sinless Perfection Is Quite Endearing
The idea of sinless perfection is appealing—no more coming to God to repent of your sin and no more experiencing the frustration of being deceived once again. It goes without saying that as His children we hate sin and seek freedom from its control and influences. Sinless perfection is therefore endearing to the child of God.
Sinless Perfection Is Not Scriptural
There is one problem: sinless perfection is not scriptural. Error rides in on the back of truth. Sinless perfection rides in on the command to be holy: “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, be ye holy; for I am holy” (I Peter 1:15-16).
One of the greatest arguments against sinless perfection is found in the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus taught His disciples (active followers of Christ) to confess their sins as part of the model prayer in Matthew 6:9-12. As they were taught to ask for their daily bread, they were also taught to ask for forgiveness of their sins.
If We Say We Have Not Sinned
The epistle of John was written to believers. In it, he commands the saints to confess their sins: “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” (I John 1:8-10).
The phrase, “deceive ourselves” is a present active indicative of planaō, which, according to Robinson Word Pictures is, “to lead astray. We do not deceive others who know us…we deceive ourselves.” You might say that you have arrived at a state of sinless perfection, but others know the truth of the matter.
The Dead Fruit Of Sinless Perfection
While sharing the gospel with a man, he responded by saying that he had arrived at sinless perfection six years earlier. I shared some of the verses that are found in this article and more. The more I presented the truth of God’s Word, the less he had control over his spirit. At one point, I was convinced that he was going to hit me. So much for the fruit of sinless perfection. It was no more than dead decaying fruit.
Walk In The Spirit
Although sinless perfection is not possible, we are to attempt to still walk in righteousness. The apostle Paul confronted the Galatians who were being influenced by false teachers. Galatians 5:16 says, “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” In Romans he said, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Rom. 5:1-2).
Our victory comes only through the completed work of Calvary. As long as the focus of our faith is the Christ of the cross and the cross of Christ, we will not fail. For the times that we turn our focus to the things of this world, we must confess our sins and receive Christ’s imputed righteousness. Then, we return to walking in the Spirit.
This article continues in the July issue of The Evangelist.