Arminian Today

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Why I Deny Sinless Perfection

Sinless perfection is the teaching that one is unable to sin in this life.  Many who are anti-holiness will often ask if those of us who teach holiness believe in sinless perfection.  My answer is no.  I do not believe that a person can live in this world and be unable to sin.  As long as we live in our flesh, we are capable of sinning.  1 John 1:9 is clear that we must confess our sins which itself implies that believers do sin.  We see also examples of believers in both the Old and New Testament of people committing sins.

I do believe, however, that believers are able to overcome sin.  This does not mean that believers cannot sin but rather that a believer is able by the grace of God (Titus 2:12) and by the Spirit of God (Romans 8:12-13) to overcome sin.  Jesus sets us free from sin (John 8:31-38) so that we are able to not sin (John 5:14; 8:11; 1 John 2:1).  We may sin (1 John 1:9) and salvation does not take away the ability to sin (James 1:12-15) but as we walk in the light, the blood of Jesus continues to cleanse us from all sin (1 John 1:7).  The believer does not have to sin (1 Corinthians 10:13).

I deny, however, that salvation takes away the ability to sin.  We are able to sin though we are not to sin (1 John 2:1-2; 3:4-10).  The Spirit of God brings conviction of sin both to the world (through the gospel) and in our own lives (John 16:8-11).  The clear testimony of Scripture is that we are not to be a people of sin for to do so proves we are not Jesus’ (Matthew 1:21; 1 John 2:3-6; 3:4-10).  The Bible calls the people of God to holiness (Matthew 5:48; Romans 6:1-23; 8:1-4; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, 18-20; 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1; 1 Thessalonians 4:3; Hebrews 12:14; 1 Peter 1:15-16).  Paul’s words in Ephesians 4:17-24 are great verses for this:

17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

The mark of the true believer is a life of righteousness and holiness.

Lastly, I want it to be clear that even our Lord Jesus taught us that we cannot obtain sinless perfection in this life.  He taught us in Matthew 6:12 that we are to pray for forgiveness.  Some cheap grace teacher despise the disciple’s prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) because of this one element.  Yet our Lord teaches us that we are to pray for God’s forgiveness and notice that He teaches it in the context of daily (v.11).  Praise God that He does forgive us when we confess our sins and repent.  He is merciful toward us and loves us and has provided for our salvation and our forgiveness.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

07/24/2013 at 10:26 AM

2 Responses

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  1. Well said. Most of the time when a guy says “I think believers can and should overcome sin” the knee jerk reaction (maybe just the jerk reaction) is “Oh, so you believe in sinless perfection then?” I have many battles with sin in my life, sins that my flesh has gotten accustomed to. I have overcome them in situations as well as seen victory over some of the more dominant ones, breaking the habitualness of them. This is the coolest thing in the world to me and the continued growth is one of my surest signs of divine life in me. I don’t plan on falling, I don’t see it as inevitable that I’ll fall, but I also know me well enough to know that it will happen! I know that sentence makes no rational sense, but I think that’s what it’s like. To give in and say, “oh well, I’ll do it anyway, thank God there’s grace” seems a tad flippant.

    I have also heard people say that you have to replay your day and confess every single sin. I don’t see anything in the Bible that says that, do you? I see general statements like the Lord’s Prayer and 1 John 1:9, but the idea that I have to run through my sin catalog and if I miss one it remains unforgiven seems foreign to how the Bible speaks of it. Any thoughts on that?


    07/25/2013 at 10:33 AM

    • I believe we should confess all known sin and unknown sins. In other words, the gospel should be our focus. I am saved through Christ and I am being saved through Christ. Christ is my focus. I confess that I am human, that I am not perfect but that is the point of the gospel in the first place, Jesus did what I could never do. Jesus bore my sins on the cross. Jesus is my salvation. Each day I live and move in Him and abide in Him (John 15:1-11). He is my source forever.

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