A rebuttal to Got Questions.org’s resolution for “entire Sanctification”.
Got ??s addresses the topic of “sinless perfection”. For a website claiming they have the answers, I wanted to use this response as an example of how biased and shallow some of their answers are. In my personal opinion they get a lot right, and have value. But the posture they assume, of having the “answers”, puts them in the position of “self proclamation” of having the right answers. This note will serve three purposes:
1) Rebuttal their answer to this question.
2) Show some of the presumptive bias they use on their site.
3) Reveal how their approach to answers, is just one more threat of propaganda, if not read with the proper filters.
Their discussion centers around Eph 4:11-16. Where Paul says “be perfect” causes some confusion. They are correct that the word is mature/complete/full grown/ and in 1611 the word “perfect” reflected those thoughts. It’s only been a 100 years or so, that the word Perfect in English has adopted this Utopian, without flaw flavor to it. Many translations won’t change the word from Perfect to Mature or some other suitable word, simply because the King James is such a revered translation, the reaction would be loudly objectionable.
The question becomes, what does that word mature, for Christian maturity mean in Paul’s mind. This is a topic that isn’t addressed here in their answer. In fact if they had addressed it, there would be some discrepancies with their position.
But, on this verse their response is, Ephesians 4 addresses the Body en toto of the Church, not the individual and of course it doesn’t mean people can become sinlessly perfect as long as they are in the flesh. And they Cite the last third of Romans 7 to prove this.
Let’s discuss those two points.
Who is addressed in Ephesiahs 4. (I am going to paraphrase)
The appointed (by Him) leaders of the Church, are to lead the people for the work of service to the building up of the Church as a whole. This is a commentary on the roles of the leaders and their role and the purpose of their gifts. I agree that they have this part correct.
until we all reach… The “we all” refers either to the “all” that are members of the church, (the individuals there in), or all the different Churches. I think Paul is pretty consistent that a general comment about the Church covers all physical locales of churches. But he may say the Church at Corinth, for example to denote a specific place. I believe the “we all” refers to the individuals within the corporate body of Christ. And at this point, we have moved from the Church body to the members in the church.
the unity of the faith, and the knowledge of the Son of God– This part could mean either corporate Church or the individual.
to become a mature man, –or perfect man– the question is, what does Paul mean by mature? What does Christian maturity/perfection look like to Paul. There is no question that we are to attain it. But what is it? The confusion of the word perfection muddies up the water. The GOT ??s folks stop their examination here, where they can discredit those who claim it means sinless perfection. “Sinless Perfection” is a fairly derogatory word for the conversation anyway. But, we are sure that Paul claims we are to become perfect/mature and we need to see what that is, and how mature that is.
to a mature man, to the measure of the stature… Paul explains the mature man to the same as the “to the fullness of Christ”. And he prefaced with a picture of how full that would be. To the measure — means that if His maturity was in a glass, compared to ours, we would have the glass just as full as his was. Of the stature — means the glass would be the same size. So our Spiritual maturity is like the FULLNESS of Christ’s spiritual maturity, just as full and just as big as His maturity was.
I agree that Christian maturity isn’t about sinless perfection. But if a person was that spiritually mature, what sins do you suggest Christ committed? Because the human would be just as guilty or just as mature as He was. Does the author at Got ??a just disregard this as some sort of catch phrase that isn’t literal? Or do they just dismiss it because they don’t envision that as a real goal?
Question for consideration, How realistic did Abraham find a promised child when his wife was barren and he was well beyond the age of producing? How realistic did Abraham find it, that he would sacrifice his son, and the son would still bear progeny? How realistic did Gideon find it, to send home the soldiers, and attack a 27K army with three hundred brave, (or dumb) men armed with crock pots and kazoos?
What right would someone have to dismiss a Biblical claim, because they found it difficult to attain? And what does that say about their faith?
Paul’s Spiritual Maturity he expects us to attain in this life will reflect Jesus the Christ’s spiritual maturity level in this life. And I would bet that got ??s would say that is impossible until after you die.
There were some quick blurbs mentioned to other verses I’ll address in order they were presented.
Romans 7:14-13, the Author claims Paul struggled with the “flesh” or Sarx, or Sinful nature. Except Paul stated a few verses before that… (NASB) Rom 7:5 For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death.
As well as Paul asks the question in vs 24 “who will set me free?” and answers thanks be to God. Then later in Rom 8:9 presents the solution that if you are indwelled by the Spirit you are no longer in the Flesh.
And also Paul wrote in col 2:11 that body of sins of the flesh was removed by Christ, not man, when, I would suggest, the person was Spiritually Mature.
All in all, it’s not about what you, as a man can do, but what you let Him do in and through you. So, I think the Author needs to cede the “flesh” argument and accept their misrepresentation. There are a lot of objections to their claim that are ignored, irresponsibly, to make their claim.
Col 1:28 merely claims that Paul believed in Christian Maturity and it was His plans that those he taught would be mature when they faced Christ. So, what did Paul think maturity was?
Col 4:12 is a similar context to the 1:28 summary.
The fourth paragraph of their presentation gives a sequence of personal opinions. Things they presume are correct, and assume are fact that should be pointed out to be less than the presentation would lead you to believe.
“As human beings, we are bound under the curse of Adam in this World.” No where in scripture is this thought presented. To deduce this point, one must make some assumptions and unsubstantiated interpretations. I would suggest that “flesh” is probably what the Author means by the Curse of Adam. I would then point out, the flesh isn’t with you til death if you are a Spiritually Mature member of Christ’s body. We saw several Paulian comments above to that effect.
“No matter how hard we try not to, wil will still sin against God.” Again, no where in scripture will this be found. This one isn’t even close anywhere in scripture. The verse most likely in mind is…
1 John 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.
The claim is, if John still sinned, and said this, then surely everyone would still sin. There are two questions to answer here before a conclusion can be made to affirm this verse for the claim we all will sin forever.
1) It is true that we all have sinned, so our soul has sin on it’s blotter to be forgiven by God. If you never sinned again, you would still have sin accounted to you, lacking Christ’s mediation. That does not express in any way that you will sin forever. I agree it COULD be read that way, singling this one verse out and reading it. But in context of the chapter, and the letter… it’s a reach.
2) John said earlier that he was in fellowship with God. To be in fellowship with God he must walk in the light, AS HE DOES, and there is no darkness in Him. In vs 2:8 John explains their darkness is being washed away, and the light is starting to shine.
…….a) If John walks in the light as HE does. Do you contend…
…………….1) That God sins.
…………….2) That John didn’t sin.
…………….3) That john misrepresented his walk?
…….b) If John was in the light, and in fellowship with God, and the people he wrote to, still had a little darkness to be washed away, then perhaps JOHN is in a different state of Spiritual maturity as those he wrote to? Something akin to Paul’s Milk/ Meat examples. Or perfect/imperfect as Paul mentions in a few places.
I have to conclude there is not a verse, that says you will sin forever until you die.
Gal 2:11-13 Peter showed favoritism and was rebuked. I have to ask, who declared being stupid a sin? That’s more than a little presumptuous. I could be as loose with my interpretation and point out Paul said he was perfect Phil 315, and that he said he kept the law without flaw phil 3:6. But that would be taking both OUT of context, but it would be as IN context as their application here is.
1 Timothy 1:15, Paul carried guilt on his person for the persecution he put the Church through. Fighting as he did against the Church, having Stephen killed, working AGAINST Christ’s purpose, would very well establish why his sins in his life would make him chief among sinners. But it doesn’t say he sinned forever. It says, “For all have sinned” [and are thus sinners]. Only the Christ lived without flaw from birth to death. The sins Paul committed, specifically working against Christ, and being humbled so on the road to Damascus, would certainly have him feeling chief of those who have sinned. VS the worst of those who are sinning….which doesn’t make any sense at all.
Lastly, we see the claim that “true perfection” will not come until the Rapture of the church, when we rise to meet Jesus in the air…
1 Thessalonians 4:17 is used as a reference. This is a verse that does reference the return and the resurrection, but it makes a comment about our resurrected body, it has nothing to do with our living body, with the flesh removed by Christ Col 2:11.
Paul’s comments are regarding living people when he made his claims about perfection, and comments regarding perfection, and presenting people as perfect. To all of a sudden try to force an interpretation of them as post resurrection events, seems… undisciplined, if not purely eisegetical.
1 Corinthians 15:54 is again discussing the resurrected body. There is nothing to support the claim that a living person can’t be Perfect as Paul describes. The comment in the verse of raised up and perfect body to replace the old body on earth is a clear indicator we are discussing a post resurrection event. It’s two different conversations, with no connection offered, but a big jump on the back of assumption, to piece independent thoughts together, under one umbrella.
2 Corinthians 5:10 has nothing to do with presenting a living person on earth, as perfect before Christ at His return. It’s referencing the judgement seat of Christ. No where do we get an image of Christ returning in the air with the Judgement seat of GOD beside Him.
1 Corin 3:9-15, their last verse given, has nothing to do with the discussion that I can tell.
In conclusion, the authors started with the assumption that we will sin forever, and picked and chose their arguments to try to defend that presupposition.
We can tell from scripture that Paul clearly says we are to be Spiritually mature, ON EARTH before death and resurrection.
We can tell that John sees we are to be in fellowship with God, ON EARTH, and that means you walk in the light as He does.
If the Author can show me where Paul’s “perfection” on earth doesn’t exist, or enters a discussion to address WHAT perfection meant to Paul, and applies that to sinning on earth, we may have a conversation. Until then we have holey assumption, vs a holy conclusion.
If the Author can show me how you can walk in the light, with no Darkness on you, AS GOD WALKED and yet, still sin, we can have a conversation.
If you can show me how Paul struggled with the flesh, but was no longer in the flesh, we can have a discussion.
Until then, I have to conclude that Christian’s are expected to be Perfect/Mature/Complete, and the discussion is not on IF but on WHAT that means. I would conclude that while sinning or not isn’t the goal of Christian Maturity, it could certainly be a result of Christian Maturity. In fact it would be hard pressed to say otherwise, unless you can show me how Christ sinned.
HOW to get there, is another story. AND it would come after a more fleshed out answer of what it is.
I assume the final statement from those who argue against Christian Maturity and the sinless possibility will be a smug, “Have you ever met anyone that doesn’t sin?”
For them I return the question, “Have you ever met anyone who has raised from a 3 day death and ascended to heaven? Neither have I. I still believe, because that’s what it says.” My life doesn’t prove God’s word, His word proves my life.