Carm: A rebuttal to their Sinless Perfection Rebuff

For full disclosure let me say, I respect, and admire the work Matt Slick has done, and the success and growth he has experienced in his ministry.  There is no question that his heart, is first pointed to serving God.

Then let me say, the ultra conservative nature of his theology, makes me feel like he’s spent more time learning what other people teach about God, than spending time learning about God himself.  This is just being honest and admitting my perception, bias, and alias.  It’s not a personal thing.  If you’ve ever sit in a theological conversation among strangers, nobody agrees with anybody on anything.  There’s no shame.  The good thing is, when you take so many diverse views and mesh them together to see what sticks and what gets replaced everyone should grow from it.

That is the approach I’m taking with his comments on Sinless Perfection.  It’s a pat answer, towing the party line answer.  Meaning, there isn’t anything new to it or original, so really, what I’m addressing isn’t Matt Slick, but the arguments that someone else has made before him and he has accepted/adopted.

Lastly, usually these answers from theological sites, (see my response to Got Questions), are so presumptive and smug, I get annoyed and mimic their tones.  I commend M. Slick on making a relatively fair toned approach. 🙂  (Some will say, to admit that pains me…)

Their question was, Do Christians still sin?
http://carm.org/if-you-are-christian-does-it-mean-you-dont-sin-anymore

My first contention is, “What is a Christian?”

Would that be the milk, or the meat believer in Paul’s words?  Or would you think it was both?  Have you ever studied what a milk vs meat believer would mean to Paul?   What about the people Paul refers to as Perfect?  What do they look like compared to the not yet perfect ones?  Where does the non Christian part stop, and the “now a Christian” part start?

Is it when they pronounce with their mouth that they believe?  Is pronouncing with your mouth all it takes to believe?  Many treat it as such.  I don’t know how many times I saw a person make an altar call, say a prayer, get up being told they are NOW a new person, and that they were a Christian.  Do you believe just because you recited a fixed prayer?

Is it a titular claim?  That once you decide you are, then you are?  And you can earn that title Christian, just because of the way your mind leans in the question, are you or aren’t you a Christian?    Is there a REAL and witnessable change in the person, or is it a title a person adopts when they proclaim a faith.

If there is a change, how do you determine when that change occurred?  Can you tell it about yourself, or can others see it in you?  Can strangers see it in you, would they know your faith if you didn’t tell them?  Or do you need to tell them for them to know.  Is your faith more of a lifestyle, or words, and preaching, and political views?

In a room of 100 people that claimed to be Christians if you asked them all for a definition, and drilled down, how many do you think would agree?  I’m giving you 50/50 odds that there would be one person that would agree with themself.  1-1000 that two would agree with each other.  For example, they may all admit, it’s when they believe in Christ.  Most of those may agree that it’s when the Spirit of God is in them.  Here we have some variations, some will say the mystical fruits of the spirit, tongues, healings, etc.. will be manifest, and if they aren’t, the person is not Christian.  Some others would say, nope, they have to also prove they are able to survive a venomous snake bite.  Some others may claim, if the Spirit is in them, you can tell because they are no longer in the flesh.  Rom 8:9A.  And another group may claim they are identifiable because if the spirit indwells them, they will no longer give into temptations.  Gal 5:16  And an even less specific group will just look at them all and say, ‘they are too proud of their beliefs to be Christian, we are Christians because we aren’t trying to stir up dissension and create factions.  Gal 5:19-21.  And…. well, that’s enough.

When is a person a Christian?  I don’t know.  You don’t know.  Only God would know.  I know everyone will claim they are one, whether they are or are not.  And THAT will cause some confusion.  Some of them might be, but will be different than those that aren’t.  Since the ones that aren’t, wish to claim they are Christian, they will have to explain why the others live differently.  So you get one more denomination, or church.  It’s madness.

So, my thought for you is take the “christian” moniker out of the conversation.  Let’s just focus on the topic, can one with Christ (whatever that might be) find themselves at a point in life to no longer sin?

First step, would be to determine if the Bible ever makes the claim that it COULD happen.  Then we should determine if the Bible says it should happen.  And then we can determine if it would happen and when it would happen.  If God says, in His book, that it can happen, you have to ask;
If so, can He?
If so, will He?

If the book says it can be, and God can do it, and God WILL do it and keep to His word, then to say it can’t happen would be to question God.  I’m sure Abraham did that, considering his age and the promise to have a child.

Many people who believe they are Christian know that they still struggle with sin.  So they assume a person can never “not sin” because they, themselves are Christian (self proclaimed) and they still sin.  If they admitted a person COULD not sin, then they have to face and admit they have failed, and when your eternal soul could be in jeopardy, you don’t want to admit to your faith being flawed.  So, defensively, you may do what you need to do so you can feel good about yourself.

Many of those will make a titular claim to 2 cor 5:17.  They will proclaim they are in Christ, so they are NEW and the new is Christian.  But, you really can’t use a verse that gives you a conditional, and just assume the favorable conditions.  IF you are in Christ, does not mean SINCE you are in Christ.  People assume they are the “IF” you are in Christ and proclaim the new creation part as if it were fact.   This verse, no matter what the person may claim, doesn’t prove anything since it gives you an If… THEN conditional statement, thus having no conclusion by nature.  IF you can show me how to prove you are in Christ, then you can make that claim.

Proof that you are in Christ, in one instance is….

 1Jo 3:6

No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him.

and in another…

1Jo 4:16

We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

Perhaps that person, who claims to be “in Christ” so they can claim they are a new creation, is just not quite there yet, but fully loves God and is running that race.  They can’t be blamed for accepting what they were taught.  They could be like Simon in Acts 8.  A successful sorcerer, person who did many things other men couldn’t.  He was publically known for his feats, and was by all information given successful and respected.  He believed the preaching he witnessed.  And he chose to follow God.   Those are facts of scripture.  Later, this man who made money from astounding feats saw the Apostles healing and such.  Recognizing what a superior ability this was, and wanting to help other people, made an offer like any other person would who wanted something someone else had.  He was “spanked” for thinking money could get him Spiritual healing abilities.  Shamed, he begged the Apostles pray that he may not be what they proclaimed he was.

I would suggest many people are simply misled on this “christian” thing.  People become obsessed over that title, more than they do that lifestyle.  So some of these people, are claiming something, before it is their time to claim.  This requires “fixing” many verses, so their claim will hold up.

If God promises that we can be and should be at a point of maturity that we do not sin, you can either doubt God’s promise or will to keep that promise, or run that race and let Him do what He will do as your sovereign Lord.   If you are not….. something scripture says you could be, accept God has simply not got you there yet.  And keep a sincere focus on the goal of the race.

So, the thought of a claim to being a Christian in the question, can a follower of God be at a point in life where they no longer sin, simply muddies the water and creates mass confusion.    Most people define “Christian” as one who is “saved” or “not saved”.  Most in the Church think that is all there is in the faith, being saved, or not being saved.  IT’s a very ME-centric focus, save my behind from God’s wrath.  What must I do to save my behind from God’s wrath.  I can’t do that (be sinless) so that can’t be something involved in saving my behind from God’s wrath.

When, scripture shows that the salvific part of the faith is only the beginning of our relationship with God, and that there are growth and expectations still to come, focusing on saving our behind is very selfish and self serving, not God serving.

Scripture shows there are Milk and Meat believers.  Some are Perfect and some are not yet Perfect.  Those are all believed to be Christians, but they are Christians of a different degree.  Could it be possible one group, milk or meat, perfect or imperfect still struggle with sin, and the other doesn’t?

Remember Paul said he taught things to the Perfect that he didn’t speak to the others because they wouldn’t understand.  (Maybe that was meat…not perfect, but same thing…) That shows he was of a group that was more than those he wrote to.  He wrote the letters to help those people, get to the state of the perfect/meat/mature believers.

The word Perfect, in Greek, does not have this Utopian, without flaw, concept attached to it that we hold today.   To the Greek reader, it would mean something that was complete, or mature, or finished, or operational and ready to do it’s service.  A boat that could float, sail, hold fish, and return home, was perfect.  The scratches, chips, broken oars, didn’t really matter.  It is NOT Utopian, but it is Perfect.   So everytime you read a verse that says “perfect” and you gasp, “no one can be perfect but Jesus”, back up, relax, and realize, it’s talking about a maturation process, from the less grown to the full grown, whatever that would look like.

So, are there levels of Maturity in the Church?  We have the milk/meat examples above.  If that doesn’t satisfy you, we can investigate Paul’s claim to present the people Perfect to Jesus at His return.  He certainly wants them to be perfect, what does that mean?

Jesus said we are to be perfect like God is perfect.  This seems to be an impossible task.  But if you read the segment from 43-48, the chat is about how to love.  Anyone can love their friends.  God loves His enemy and provides for them. We are to be perfect *(we are to love as completely or maturely) as God does.  In other words, the example I just gave you, that is how you ARE TO live.  There is no strive to in context, syntax, or within five counties of that declaration of Christ.

Then you have Paul in Eph 4 saying the spiritually gifted leaders of the Church are to lead the people to “works of service” (see gal 5:6/last parable matt 25) to build up the Church.  The church will gain knowledge of Christ through the works, as well as unity.  Until all the members of the Church become a perfect man.  (Remember, mature, or fully developed)

How perfect?  He goes on to paint the picture, if the fullness of Christ’s Spiritual Maturity was pictured in a glass of water, that our glass would have the same amount of water.  And, not only that but we would have the same size glass.  We are to be as spiritually mature as the full and complete Spiritually Maturity of Christ was.  I’m thinking that is not a sermon most churches would preach.

Now, if you have people in the church, that still need to be developed to this point, then by definition, you have people who are “Christian” but are not yet perfect.  You have two types of Christians, (at least two).

You can see the possibility that some Christians still struggle with sin, and some may be developed to a maturity like Christ had where they don’t.   Whether you think it can or can’t happen, intellectually you nearly have to concede that scripture paints that picture.  The only question becomes, do you believe the scripture or not?

There is a Slick statement regarding we are the people where the old has passed and the new has come.  But we’ve already discussed that may be a false, but very optimistic claim. He assumes that Christians struggle and do not always abide or seek God’s path.  That’s sort of like saying that since children can’t reach the cookies on top of the fridge, when they are full grown, they can’t either.  We have the immature to mature growth to go through, so some may struggle and some may not.

But, you have the concept of Abide in Christ as well.  Abide in Him, means where you rest, where you reside.  It’s not a word, used in the sense of movement.  It’s a word of settled down.  It’s a word used to describe the claim of Paul in Romans 8:1-9.  You are either in the flesh or in the Spirit.  Whichever you belong to, that is the one you obey.  That’s an inverse way of saying you can be judged by your fruit.  If you are in the flesh you obey the flesh.  If you are in the Spirit, you obey the Spirit.  And Romans 8:9 says, you are no longer in the flesh IF you are indwelled by the Spirit.

How many of us were taught, that you will be in the flesh until you die, AND that you are indwelled by the Spirit.  Abide, is where you live.  You live for self/flesh, or you live for God, Spirit.

Consider the Rich Young Ruler story.
Lord lord, how can I get eternal life.
Keep the Commandments, love, honor, etc.. the Decalogue.
I have kept them all my life.
Jesus was said to have loved this young man.  (Think like Lazarus..raised from the dead.)
Jesus said, if you would be PERFECT.  (Not Utopian but finished.  Eternal life wasn’t the end of the road, there was another step to being perfect.)  … Sell all you have in life that you have built up for yourself, that you can use to provide for yourself and that which makes you independent, and come follow me, as a dependent Pauper, with nothing to offer.  That is what makes you perfect.  Not being strong and independent, not conquering sin yourself.  But as the Beatitude says, Blessed are the POOR in spirit.  Look up the word for poor.  Needy, dependent, beggared.  Exactly what Christ tried to turn the RYR into.

The RYR with his own independence, still lived for himself.  The one who would have been a pauper and depending on Christ for his very survival is the one who Abides in Christ.   As Romans 8:9 shows, you are either in the flesh, or you are indwelled by the Spirit.

1 John 1 shows that you have one group of people who are in fellowship with God, writing to a group who are not in fellowship with them and God.  John’s joy will be complete to help them be in fellowship.  To be in fellowship you must walk in the light as God does.  (If you walk in the light as God does, either you don’t sin, or God does sin, which are you more comfortable with?  Anything else is “not as He does”.

But, even though they were not yet in fellowship with God, they had Christ as their mediator for their sins.  Ahem.  That means they have atonement for sins, that is “saved” and that is what most of you will consider a Christian.  So you had two groups of Christians, one in fellowship with God and His Son, and one that had their sins atoned for, but were not yet in fellowship with Him.

Fellowship, is a word relating to proximity of a relationship, right?  1 John 3:6 said if you still sin, you do not yet abide in Him.  (are in proximity to Him.)  ((have sold all your independence and fully depend on Him.))

The instances of multi levels of development among Christians is pretty easy to find in the Bible once you admit, it’s not just about being saved to cover our poor pathetic selfish behinds.   To the right you can find a more drawn 1 John conversation.

There is another Slick comment that defines being Perfect “as keeping the law”.  This concept isn’t anywhere I can find in the Bible.  And I believe that it’s a case of Mr. Slick imposing his theology over the exegesis.  We all do it.  But, as we discussed above, keeping the law, has nothing to do with being Perfect.

First the law was for the Jews, not the Gentiles.
Second, the Church of Christ’s that He is the head of, is established of the order of melchizedek.
………..There were no Jews born yet in Melchizedek’s time.
………..Thus there were no Gentiles.
………..And there were no Jewish laws.
………..In Christ’s Church there is no Jew or Gentile

Paul wrote we are to be perfect.  That is not in question.  What does that Perfect look like?  Eph 4s comments on Spiritual maturity, or “perfection” gives a great description.  Can this be corroborated with the rest of the Bible?
…the change in us, whatever it is to be, will be finished (assuming we persevere). Phil 1:6
…Paul and others, WERE perfect. 🙂
Phl 3:15
Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you;
(Yes, I know right before he said, “not that I already am perfect”.  The apparent contradiction must be reconciled.  I’d suggest with some attention to logizomai in verse 16, (regard))
…Those who endure will be made perfect James 1:4

I suggest, we avoid tying in the law keeping, admit we are in a church established in a fashion before there was a law, which has no Jews who the law was written for, nor Gentiles, and focus on what Paul and James thinks a “finished” or perfect man would look like.  Only then, when the knee jerk, reflexive, defensive stance we throw up when seeing the word, “Perfect” is handled, will we be able to examine the words for what they reveal. 

The primary objections to “sinless perfection”.  (Which, btw, is a derogatory term that distracts from the true argument of Spiritual Maturity.  But since some people explain it in the way the generic sinless perfection beliefs explain it, I can’t gripe.)

Remember, to the Greek, Aramaic, and Hebrew reader, the word “Perfect” means for all intents and purposes, finished, or complete, or words from that flavor. 

1Jo 1:8
If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.

The argument here relies on the “we” pronoun and who it would assign to.  As established above the We, is John and those with him who are in fellowship with God and His son.   So there is a chance that John is making a comment for everyone in the letter here, and not just those who were in fellowship with God. 

Now we need to determine what the claim is.  Is he saying everyone still commits sins?  This is the position you would have to prove to disqualify the other 1 John verses that arise in this discussion.  The argument hinges on– John is part of the We that he says has sin– which proves he still sins.

Romans 3:23 For all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God.   <<< All of us have sinned, excepting Christ.  When we face judgement, all of us have a sin to be accounted for.  I contend that if John no longer committed sins in his life, he still has sins that he would have to account for, if not for Christ.  So all have need of Christ.  But, this does not give a compelling reason to think it would contradict the claims later in 3:9, 3:6, 5:18 of “not sinning”.  

The 1 John 1 conversation is something like this…
We have seen this first hand and tell you about it. 
So you may have fellowship with us, God and His son. 
This will make our joy complete.
God is light and no darkness is in Him. 
If we claim fellowship but still have a life in the dark we are liars.
If we live like He does (walk in the light AS HE DOES) we have fellowship with one another.
We all have sins in our life we must account for. 
we can confess our sins and He will forgive us. 
We can’t claim we have not sinned. 
We write this so you may not sin (walk in the dark)
…vs 8 And you have a little more darkness to be done away with…. 

Concluding, anyone who has sinned, has sins as vs 8 claims.  That doesn’t mean John was still committing sins.  John was merely giving the typical gospel message of reassurance for forgiveness so they would not get discouraged in their walk to Christian Maturity.   Maturity, as John described it, would be evidenced (or would result in..) the person walking in the light as God does, and there would be no darkness in them.  

How does the person that claims 1:8 says John still sins, explain that John just claimed to walk in the light, or live his life as Jesus did on earth?  And for the folks who want to say that isn’t possible, I reference them back to the aforementioned Ephesians 4 comments on perfection.  They corroborate the idea of being as mature, spiritually, as Jesus was on earth. 

I am sometimes in the Spirit, and sometimes in the Flesh.

Romans 8:9 seems to dispel that thought thoroughly and completely.   We are either in Him, or not yet in Him.  We start our walk with Christ, not yet in Him.  Where, like in Matt 5:18 we are led by the Spirit.  The word for Led there, AGO, in Greek holds the picture of a horse being led by the reigns.  Christ is outside of us guiding us.  At some point Christ removes the sinful nature from us, col 2:11, and the Spirit indwells Rom 8:9a.

You obey the one you belong to. Rom 8:5  

I think it’s pretty safe to conclude, from Scripture if you are still in the flesh, the Spirit of God does not yet indwell you. 

Of course, most of you reading this have been taught the Spirit indwells you (I was) from the moment you are saved (whenever that is…).  So this maturation process we go through, is not only not taught today, but it’s not even something most folks are aware exists.

The Romans 7 debacle. 

Rom 7:14 For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin.
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.

Which is it? 

Is Paul, IN the flesh, or is he NOT in the flesh.  He claims both, with a personal pronoun both times.   How can he be in the flesh and struggling later in the chapter but not have been in the flesh when he started the conversation?  

When I was in high school, my basketball coach gave us a half time speech once.  Our plans for the second half to come back and win the game consisted of a couple of things.  He explained it something like this….
“We are going to press them full court, and we are going to run them to death every rebound we get.  We will do this til our legs are jelly or their legs are jelly, and the better men will win!”

Now, the thing is, our coach wasn’t doing any running and his legs were going to be just fine, I.E. not jelly.  But, why did say WE and include himself in the solution?  

I remember Al Gore running for President.  He wanted to attend to the Black Vote.  He arranged to speak at a Black congregation church in some southern state.  In his speech, he constantly spoke of “WE” and if “I” am not treated fairly I want a person to stand up for me!  And yet, Al Gore didn’t become Black, nor a real Southerner because he used that pronoun. 

There is a speech pattern, called historic present tense.  Where a person tells a story to make their point.  And he assumes the role of a character, or the whole people in the story and tells the story from his first person perspective.  It serves two purposes.
1.)  It does not put the speaker in a “superior” position and appear to be talking down to his audience with “you” and “you people” type comments. 
2.)  It puts the listener in a more personally attached involvement with what is being said.  They think of it as addressed to me, and not to some other people so they associate the lesson with themselves.  

You have a similar situation in Phil 3 where Paul says he doesn’t consider himself to be perfect, but those of us who ARE perfect….. It’s an apparent contradiction.  You can’t pick the one you like best, you have to reconcile the differences.  (You may hit me up for the Phil 3 contradiction if you wish. ) 

In vs 9 Paul claims he was once alive apart from the law.  People refer to this as his becoming an adult and being accountable to the law.  Or perhaps his time before he was with Christ and became aware of the law.  And, really, neither make any sense and seem to be desperate reaches. 

Paul was under the law from his first breath, and proves it by announcing his circumcised on the 8th day (or whichever day).  He lived in the house of a pharisee.  I’m quite sure he was trained from diapers on regarding the law.   

He said sin became alive then, but in other places he said without the law there was no sin.  So I have to consider, that since the law was alive before Paul was born, he is speaking for the Jewish People.  They existed before the Law.  When the commandment came, they faced the law that would judge them and convict them of their sins with death.  

In Paul’s life the ONLY commandment that came was Christ’s “love” commandment/s.  They brought life, not death.  There was no commandment that brought death to Paul that was new to him. 

Not only does the contradiction of not in the flesh/now in the flesh suggest it’s a historical present, but the sentences to launch this part of the conversation suggest he was representing someone other than himself. 

We should also keep the big picture in focus.  In Romans 6 he shows you why you need Christ.  In Romans 7 he shows you the sinful nature behind your sins.  At the end of Romans 7 he asks the question, who will save me.  

In Romans 8:9a shows the answer.  If the Spirit indwells you, you are no longer in the flesh.  

In Col 2:11 you see that sinful body inside of you is removed by Christ, not by your doings. 

In Gal 5:16 you see when the Spirit is the force that you walk by, you won’t give into temptations of the flesh. Ask yourself, if you ever once walked by the Spirit, and it was true that you wouldn’t give into temptations of the flesh, how would you stop walking by the spirit without giving into a temptation…… that you wouldn’t give into?

And this is much like John in 1 John 3:9 who says that if you are born of God, you no longer continue to practice sinning, and you can not sin because His seed is in you.  Here it’s not by your prowess but by His seed, or as Paul said, His Spirit. 

So, the question remaining is, how would it happen?  I’ll answer that in another thread if it’s necessary.  But the bullet point picture is this. 

To become as Mature as Christ was, in Ephesians 4 above, it says through works, led by the guidance of the Church, we become mature.  It’s not saying works save you, you are already saved through Grace/atonement. 
Rom 6:22 But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life.

Freed from sin = Atonement through Grace. 
enslaved to God = in vs 16 shows that is an obedience thought. 
you derive your benefit= you get something from the life of working towards obedience that…
Helps you to sanctification.  
Saved, obedience, benefit that leads to Sanctification. 

We do the works, and through the lessons of the works God changes us.  Just like to learn to pitch Right handed and not left handed, for it to be natural, you must throw the ball a billion times over and over, wrong every time until it’s right.  You do the works, which are Gal 5:6 works of love through faith, and God teaches you how to love. 

Your goal is not on how to not sin. 
Your goal is on HOW to love your neighbor.  Those are the works you were saved to do.  Eph 2:10.  That is the reason the SHEEP in the last parable in Matt 25 went with the King.  Not because they earned it from their works, but because their works demonstrated they have what it took to show they were perfect, or finished, or mature.   This is the reason James says if you have faith, it will manifest in works.  

The works of faith, through love, are the exercises you do, to learn how to love like God in a sense that is a result of a natural change in your person.  OR, where HE removes your heart of stone, for a heart that is softer and loves.  Again, it’s HE that removes it. 

In Hebrews 12 they speak of discipline and how God will discipline you because He loves you.  Everyone is so SIN-CENTRIC in their theology, they think of getting a spanking when they see that word.  But the word has a flavor of discipline as in martial arts discipline, math discipline, a training sense to it.  God will train you because He loves you.  He will help you in the race to change.  

We stay focused on the goal, which is love neighbor, and He will finish that change in us.  We look to the goal and not at what is behind us (sins) and the closer we get, the fewer the sins will become.  We hold the stick over our head, and continue to hold it when it’s a struggle, and God will part the Red Sea.  But, He, in His wisdom, has us doing things in life to teach us through living.  

You can no more make this change through theological understanding, than you can get pregnant from reading a how to book.  

The only question is, even though you do not see HOW it can be done, because you realize you can not do it, are you willing to sell all you have for self providence, all the independence you have Spiritually, and allow Him to have control and be dependent on Him?  That is what would have made the Rich Young Ruler finished, or perfect. 

That is why it reads blessed are the poor, dependent, needy in Spirit.  Because they throw up their hands and quit, and let God.  Same as the Alcoholic, before recovery they have to hit bottom and realize how helpless they are.   The harder we try to be independent, the more we fight God for control. 

We focus on LOVE, and what we accomplish is somewhere in that race, we will through natural means, change in how we think and feel, because of God’s workings in our life.  And we will learn to love as He does.  matt 5:43-48.  And at that point, we will no longer fear punishment from sin, and we will be doing all the loving works we were saved to do.  1 John 4:16-18/Eph 2:10

1Jo 4:16
We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him(1).
1Jo 4:17
By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment;(2) because as He is, so also are we in this world.
1Jo 4:18 There is no fear in love;(3) but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.(4)

1)  If you love, correctly, then God is in you and you are in God.  Who can have an eternal reward without God in you?  Can you give that to yourself? 

2)  By loving, love is perfected in us.  By doing the actions, the emotion and the heart is changed permanently in us. 

3)  If you love correctly, you no longer fear sin’s sting.  Those who focus their lives on not sinning, fear sin.  Love would not have you look to sin, but look to God and Neighbors. 

4)  If you still fear punishment, then that love is not yet perfected in you. 

You are still trying to “be independent.” 

Sell all your independence and come follow Me if you would be Perfect. 

But, Lord, how can we do that we have nothing to sell and we already follow you. 
Peter, through man it’s not possible, but through God, it’s all possible. 

Who’s going to change you? It’s not you, it’s God.  As Moses had to hold the stick over His head, you are asked to love your neighbor, and forget about sin, Grace has handled it.  You focus on love, and the better you get the less you will sin.  You won’t have to contemplate if it’s a sin, you won’t care, you’ll be acting in love in good faith, and learning if you miss it. 

So, you are asked to accept Grace, that God will honor His promise regarding Christ on the cross.  He will forgive.  Now, do what you were saved to do.  Try to learn how to love your neighbor.  Practice it, learn, get better, let God teach you a new life discipline, one where you don’t try to take care of self, but you take care of others and let God take care of you.  You needn’t worry about sin, but if you realize it confess and move on.  Your goal isn’t at sins that are forgiven behind you, they are on the destination in front of you, God’s Love. 

That’s your race. 
That’s promised to be finished. 
And it’s not about conquering sin, it’s about learning to love.  THAT IS Christian perfection.  

Me and Mr. Slick seem to close enough to agree on that one. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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5 comments on “Carm: A rebuttal to their Sinless Perfection Rebuff

  1. MB says:

    Hi, while I appreciate your attempt to handle this issue, you didn’t do any real exegesis on I John 1:8 vs. 1:10 (or any of the other passages you list). You look only at an English version without any deeper digging on the words and lexical meanings and interpretations and yet somehow expect to have properly handled the text.
    I John 1:10 says ‘If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.’
    The words for ‘we have not sinned’ ou harmartano literally we not sin
    I John 1:8 says ‘1Jo 1:8 ‘If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.’
    1:8 is present tense, 1:10 is past. (echo ou hamartia in 1:8). If you claim you PRESENTLY have no sin, you are deceiving yourself and the truth is NOT in you. See the strong contrast between the two verses. John is indicting ALL who claim to be sinless, both of present or past sin.
    How then do we handle I John 2:
    My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an [a]Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; 2 and He Himself is the [b]propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.

    3 By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; 5 but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: 6 the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.

    John says he is writing these things lest we sin. He then goes on to talk about God’s forgiveness to the one who does sin, through Christ. Then he talks about keeping commandments. Remember that John just talked about the great deception of one who says he currently has NO sin.
    So what does it mean to keep the commandments, and to keep God’s word?
    John MacArthur is helpful here:
    Now let’s talk about the word keep. It stresses the idea of observant, watchful obedience. Actually the word can mean to guard. The idea of guarding His commandments. It’s not just the idea that you obey in the most marginal way, you know, just barely above the line beyond disobedience. It’s not some desire not to sin, to avoid sin and so you do this. But rather it is this positive attitude toward guarding the commandments, observing that obedience because you revere the commandments. In fact, the Greek scholar Alford(???) says in his lexicon the word means to guard or watch or keep as in the case of some precious thing. That’s important. It’s in the present subjunctive which means it’s continual. There’s a continual sense in which you exercise a guardianship of the commandments because you consider them precious. It’s the habitual moment-by-moment, day-by-day safeguarding of the Word. And therefore it’s an attitude of the spirit rather than an act of letter or law. And by the way, the word commandmentshere is not nomos, it’s not the word for law, it’s entolewhich is a word looking at an order or an assignment or a precept or a command. And it’s not talking about the Law, the Old Testament, it’s not talking about the Law of Moses, it’s talking about the commandments, the precepts, the orders of Christ. In the great commission Jesus said, “You go out and you preach the gospel, and you baptize and you teach them to observe all things whatsoever Moses has commanded,” is that what it says? No, “All things whatsoever I have commanded you.” It is the precepts of Christ that are in view here rather than the Law of Moses so that this is not an affirmation of ceremonialism or Judaism. We know, of course, that the precepts, the moral precepts, the spiritual precepts that Christ taught would be consistent with the moral and spiritual law of Moses, but it is the precepts of Christ that are in view. John uses the word nomos, the word for Law, fifteen times in his gospel referring to the Law of Moses. He uses the word entoleat least 14 times referring to the precepts of Christ.

    If you are truly sinless, then let me ask you, do you constantly keep the commandment to love the LORD your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength? That means every second, every heartbeat, every breath, with everything that’s in you. If you say yes, then I’d ask you to truly examine yourself and see if you’re not even deceiving yourself (and others). Sinless perfection is a form of antinomianism, it instantly minimizes the law and the work of the Spirit in conviction of sin for believers. The evidence that people are truly saved is not that they are perfect (in fact the most prideful and arrogant ‘Christians’ I’ve met are the ones who claim they are perfect) but that they see their sin more and more clearly as they mature in the Lord, and that they are convicted by the Holy Spirit, and they continue to repent of sin. You can’t get away from pride if you claim sinlessness. It will get you. Why? Because we have a sinful nature – Romans 7. The commandment brings condemnation, and our flesh will act out even on the teaching of something good like a commandment. Grace comes through Christ. If you truly hold up the mirror of God’s law before your soul, you WILL be convicted of sin NOW, not only at the moment of salvation. The problem with the idea of sinless perfection is that you fail to continue to use the law to examine yourself. You feel ‘above the law’. This is pride in itself, already a sin. However, the law and all of Scripture is for our instruction and edification and sanctification. If you are truly perfect, then the Holy Spirit needs to do no more work in you. You no longer need to read the Scriptures because you are perfect. You no longer have any sins to confess and therefore James 5:16 has no bearing for you or any true believer in the church, and shouldn’t be in the Bible. However, if you are truly honest with yourself, I’m sure you’ll see that you don’t love God with every fiber in your body and every breath and every thought and every word. You don’t truly love your neighbor as yourself.

    • MB, I didn’t do a break down and exegesis in this paper, you are correct. I provided more reasoning that SLICK does.

      You fail to address my actual points to show they are false, however. So I’m not sure what you want me to do here other than say NU UH.

      Rather than engage my arguments, you merely present a different opinion. AND IT IS JUST THAT, an opinion. ANd it’s an opinion most of your points I had already addressed.

      I’d love to have this discussion with you, but, I won’t waste my time. If you can’t respect my arguments enough to address them, then why should I respect yours enough to address them?

      If you would care to engage we can take these one argument at a time.

      Why you would presume I hadn’t done anything bur read an ENGLISH version is either pure arrogance on your side, pure incompetent assumption, or your attempt to influence the audience. You have no clue what I have looked into for my comments.

      Further, you present NOTHING that contradicts my reasoning on 1 john 1:8 The tense arguments change nothing in my conclusion. WHICH HAD YOU ADDRESSED IT, you might have understood.

      If all you have is parroted cliche’s other people have told you to believe, we need not discuss, you aren’t prepared.

      Have a great day…

      OH, if you DO come back to discuss, then address y reasoning before you tell me I’m wrong. SHOW me the errors, don’t sit on a throne and proclaim yourself right and me wrong.

  2. MB says:
    May 12, 2015 at 11:26 am (Edit)I John 1:10 says ‘If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.’
    The words for ‘we have not sinned’ ou harmartano literally we not sin
    —-
    Do you propose this verse contradicts all the ones I showed above? 🙂 YOu must since you do not bother to make any of them fit with your emotion driven analysis here.

    OU is a hard negative.
    Hamartano is “still sinning” going forward.

    Only one person has not sinned ever, Jesus the Christ.

    Every other man has sinned.

    Therefore every man has sinned.

    HOW does that say you keep on sinning until you die?

    It does not.

    For one who wishes to insult others over exegesis, you sure fumbled that one.
    ===============

    I John 1:8 says ‘1Jo 1:8 ‘If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.’
    1:8 is present tense, 1:10 is past. (echo ou hamartia in 1:8). If you claim you PRESENTLY have no sin, you are deceiving yourself and the truth is NOT in you. See the strong contrast between the two verses. John is indicting ALL who claim to be sinless, both of present or past sin.
    ———–
    Yawn, 1 John 1:8 says you will sin forever, HOW? Show me your “great exegesis” that concludes you will sin forever until you die?

    No really, show me how it says that. If you can not then it has no room in the point you are trying to make.

    TWO major arguments here:

    ONE:
    Have you ever sinned?
    Then you have sin. You can not claim you have no sin. If you haven’t sinned in 45 years, you have sin. You have committed an offense that is on you forever. It may be ignored, reconciled, etc.. through CHrist, but you HAVE SIN.

    Remember a verse, For every one has sinned…… Ok, one of the first parts of hte gospel. All have sinned. If you say you haven’t sinned and thus HAVE no sin, you are a liar.

    TWO:

    John said he was in fellowship with GOD and His Son.
    He said to be in fellowship with GOD you must WALK (peripateo, you ole greek scholar you…) in the light AS HE DOES.
    He says there is no darkness in HIM.
    Therefore you can conclude JOHN brings no darkness into Him.

    IF he walks as GOD does, what sins do you propose GOD commits that John would “do as”? OR do you think it’s more likely GOD doesnt’ sin, and since JOHN walks as GOD DOES he doesn’t either?

    See in 2:8 John explains those he writes to still have darkness being done away with. Therefore they are not yet in fellowship with Him as there is no darkness in Him.

    That explains why JOHN and CHRIST, GOD’s fellowship did not include those he wrote to in it. They had a bit more maturing, Perfecting, TELEIOS you greek scholar you….. to go through to be there.

    So John writes, IF YOU DID SIN, you have a mediator. DOn’t despair, keep on trucking and trying sugar bear…. Nothing in this says you will sin forever and never stop.

    YOu can’t show that in scripture.

    You make it up from needy emotional issues, not from EXEGESIS, since you claim to know what that word means.

    FURTHER, read 1 John 3:6, in conjunction with my second point.
    IF YOU STILL ARE SINNING YOU DO NOT KNOW HIM AND HAVE NOT MET HIM. Errrrrr. or you may say you aren’t in fellowship with Him.

    If you’re still sinning, you aren’t walking in the light as HE is so you aren’t in fellowship, which means you dont’ know and haven’t met Him.

    LASTLY:

    Christian perfection isn’t about sin/sinless.

    Sinless is a result of christian perfection> You can’t be “perfect” or MATURE, FULL GROWN in your spiritual development and still sin. HOWEVER you could not sin (allegedly) and not be spiritually mature.

    IF you get in the water you are wet.
    You could get wet and not be in the water.

    You approached me with a very smug, arrogant, condescending post. I reacted accordingly… How did you like that?

    I decided to actually address some of your arguments. As you see I took one paragraph of your post and went a page and a half on it. Off the top of my head, even. Without having to look up anything….. Because I’ve already done the leg work.

    So, stop assuming crap, and discuss the arguments…

    OH, 1 John 2, “if you sin…. you have a mediator”…… is perfectly appropriate for someone with a little more darkness to be done away with, before they are mature, and then in fellowship with GOD and HIS SON, and are walking in the light AS HE DOES.

    Which means if they still sin, they aren’t walking in the light as HE does…. OR it could mean GOD sins.

    PIck your poison.

  3. MB says:

    Hi,

    if you think I’m being condescending, then I apologize. However, exegesis implies actually listing the words used (in the original language) and correctly dealing with them. You did not do that in your original post.
    >
    OU is a hard negative.
    Hamartano is “still sinning” going forward.

    Only one person has not sinned ever, Jesus the Christ.

    Every other man has sinned.

    Therefore every man has sinned.

    HOW does that say you keep on sinning until you die?
    >
    Who is John’s audience here? ‘Little children’ right? Those would be believers.
    He’s not addressing people in the eternal state, because the Bible isn’t for them. It’s for those of us on this side of eternity. We walk by faith, not by sight.
    Hamartano ‘is still sinning’ as you say. We will have all sin in our lives to the day we die. But it’s an upward path toward holiness. If someone is truly sinlessly perfect, they no longer need the Scriptures.

    >
    OH, 1 John 2, “if you sin…. you have a mediator”…… is perfectly appropriate for someone with a little more darkness to be done away with, before they are mature, and then in fellowship with GOD and HIS SON, and are walking in the light AS HE DOES.
    >
    I agree. Do you NOT have a ‘little more darkness to be done away with’?

    From your original post:
    >
    When is a person a Christian? I don’t know. You don’t know. Only God would know. I know everyone will claim they are one, whether they are or are not.
    >
    Your statement is wrong:
    I John 5:13 “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.”

    We can know that we have eternal life. IF we can’t, the above verse is not true.

    Sin isn’t only not doing the negatives, it’s also doing ALL the positives. James 4:17
    Keeping the commandments, (which include Jesus’ reiteration of the great commandment in Mark 12:30) is a positive commandment, that requires every breath, every thought, every deed to be in love to God.
    The sinful nature is at war with the Spirit.
    Paul, in prison, makes clear that he, so far into his life and ministry, hadn’t reached ‘maturity’ as you put it, or perfection:
    Philippians 3:12
    12 Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on [h]so that I may lay hold of that [i]for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.

  4. You did not do that in your original post.
    —–
    You implied I did not do that. You did not investigate my thoughts on it. So it was accusatory and assumptive. Condescending is probably the proper word.
    =============

    Who is John’s audience here? ‘Little children’ right?
    ——
    Ummm nope. If you wish to use “little children” a term of affection that’s misleading. OR if you reference chapter 2, then why couldn’t it be the young men and father’s as well?

    Chapter 1 he says WHO he writes to and why. A group of people who are not yet in fellowship with HIMSELF and GOD and HIS Son, and those within John’s coterie.

    The purpose was to help them get in fellowship.
    ===============

    I asked….
    HOW does that say you keep on sinning until you die?
    And your words in response to it never did answer the question. Please, go answer the questions. They aren’t rhetorical, they are poignant for a purpose.
    =-=========-=

    Those would be believers.
    ——–
    Ummm, those he spoke of/wrote to had Christ as their mediator.

    Is it your belief that Christ mediates for those who have not committed to Him yet in life? Are you a universalist, that will save some time to know up front.

    So, they were not “would be” believers, with Christ as their mediator, they were believers. Period.
    =============

    He’s not addressing people in the eternal state, because the Bible isn’t for them. It’s for those of us on this side of eternity. We walk by faith, not by sight.
    ———–
    And YOU are part of that people on what grounds? YOu still sin, you don’t even KNOW Him and haven’t met Him in 1 john 3:6. Same as those he wrote to.

    Your comment here is meaningless. The Bible is written to many people, to call those not here yet, to write to the MILK/IMMATURE/NOT YET PERFECT/ believers, and the MEAT/MATURE/PERFECT believers. How do you discern which group is being mentioned in any particular verse?

    You assume anything written is to a “saved person”. Which sort of saved person, there are different levels. AND WHY do you focus on salvation? When that’s not even the BIGGEST point of the relationship with God?
    ===========

    Hamartano ‘is still sinning’ as you say. We will have all sin in our lives to the day we die
    ——–
    Nice emotional statement. However it’s not in scripture ANYWHERE. In fact to state that HERE without addressing the rest of the arguments that show it’s wrong, first, is highly disrespectful. It’s proof that your hunch is more than scripture to you. I’m offended at that hubris laden posture> But I don’t take it personal, I’m quite sure you don’t mean it that way.
    ============

    . But it’s an upward path toward holiness. If someone is truly sinlessly perfect, they no longer need the Scriptures.
    ———
    And what do you base this assumption on ? rofl. ANYTHING?
    =========

    I agree. Do you NOT have a ‘little more darkness to be done away with’?
    ——-
    Umm did you deliberately dodge the points?
    If you still have darkness, you are not yet in fellowship with GOD and His Son.
    John WAS in fellowship, or he was a liar. Which do you wanna go with?

    The point was the fellowship and that those he wrote to were not yet in fellowship and John was. TWO DIFFERENT LEVELS OF BELIEVERS. It’s not all about salvation. Such a selfish point of view.

    But, to answer your question, if I am or am not still dealing with some darkness, it doesn’t change the fact that JOHN WAS NOT and NONE of his coterie were either, as they WERE in fellowship with GOD and there is no darkness in HIm.

    Look, you can choose to run on emotions affecting you interpretation, OR you can break down the scripture and reconcile what you can.
    ===============

    I asked>>>When is a person a Christian? I don’t know. You don’t know. Only God would know. I know everyone will claim they are one, whether they are or are not.
    >
    YOU responded…

    Your statement is wrong:
    I John 5:13 “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.”
    —-
    Tell me, when do you believe? BELIEVE is not the same as proclaim, go get your precious little concordance out and check it out.

    When one believes, or has proper faith, they are producing works of charitable love. James 2/gal 5:6…. If your body is not naturally producing those actions, you do not yet believe.

    YOu can’t be saved, if you don’t have GOD. If you lack proper love, you lack God. 1 john 4:16-18.

    So, the verse is right, your application is grossly inadequate.

    If you can’t explain what 5:13 means…. we cant’ discuss it. But I made effort. That’s more than I get from you in this exchange. You tend to ignore what I’ve said, and just proclaim a new truth. That’s highly disrespectful.

    I’d appreciate you actually addressing my points. Each is substantial. But not necessarily right.

    WHEN DO YOU BELIEVE? And who is the judge of if you believe, YOU or GOD. HINT: It’s not you, I don’t care how arrogant you are or how sure you are, only GOD knows if you believe OR if you believe the right things. YOu can believe all you want of the wrong things, they won’t save you.

    PS when you make a huge assumptive comment such as, “if not the verse above is not true” back it up with something besides a grunt. Some reasoning and rationale….
    =============

    Sin isn’t only not doing the negatives, it’s also doing ALL the positives. James 4:17
    —–
    SIN is DOING acts that are not loving.
    NOT doing acts that are loving is the same act.

    What is your point?
    ===========

    Keeping the commandments, (which include Jesus’ reiteration of the great commandment in Mark 12:30) is a positive commandment, that requires every breath, every thought, every deed to be in love to God.
    ———
    Keeping the commandments has nothing to do with this game. That’s not the focus. If you make that the focus, you run further and further from God.

    I’ll be happy to expound, but since you aren’t addressing all my points anyway, I’m not wasting time.
    =============

    The sinful nature is at war with the Spirit.
    ——–
    really? NOT if the Spirit of GOd inwells you. The flesh is gone. Rom 8:9
    Paul was no longer in the Spirit. ROM 7:5.
    Paul says how the flesh is removed, Col 2:11.
    The sinful nature is gone with Xian maturity.
    -===========-

    Paul, in prison, makes clear that he, so far into his life and ministry, hadn’t reached ‘maturity’ as you put it, or perfection:
    Philippians 3:12
    12 Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on [h]so that I may lay hold of that [i]for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.
    ——-
    I have to assume you DELIBERATELY ignore Paul saying himself and others WERE PERFECT just after that.

    That means you are more interested in promoting an opinion than real discussion.
    15 Let us therefore, as many as are [a]perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you;

    I guess we are done. You’ve shown a desire to lecture, not a willingness to discuss and investigate so we can both learn.

    The primary points in my response to your post, as well as in the article, that show a pov that contradicts, disproves, discredits, your claims, you avoid.

    That doesn’t make them any less true.

    So they stand as given.

    And I prove my point with them.

    I can’t rebut what you don’t address. So we assume they stand.

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