I know we have discussed this topic before and I still have the same questions as before- similar to what Robert what saying. There are outward sins, which are usually the first to go, and then there are sins of the heart (hidden attitudes, etc...) that are sometimes not revealed to us accept as time goes on. Early in my close walk with the Lord, because i had gotten rid of alot of outward sins, I thought I could walk in sinless perfection- this lasted only a short while until the Lord knocked me off my high horse and showed me the condition of my heart- not once but many times and continues to do so. What of the sin of pride, anger, hidden bitter feelings which we may still have no known knowledge of. If we have any of these, this is not walking in sinless perfection. And not one of us is completely free from pride. It always rears it's ugly head and if we are teachable and wanting to come clean before the Lord we will ask for it to be exposed at every turn.
Just when i think I've conquered some area that the Lord reveals to me that is not in accordance to His word, that He wants me to work on (and i consider these things sin, whether it be a critical attitude, doubt, whatever), just when I think I am 'somewhere' - I have achieved some sense of 'holiness'-- the Lord comes along side after a very short while and again holds His mirror up to my heart and exposes more sin. More pride. Another hidden idol. Another sinful attitude toward someone. Being too harsh with my children. It is a lifetime of stripping away.
I don't say this to make any excuses for anyone or my own sin. I know many people may think that I would oppose this sinless perfection because I want to make excuses for my sin. The Lord knows my heart and how I long to be pure and clean before Him. How I continually ask Him to show me my heart so that i can be more like Him. As He contually shows me more things as my life goes on, I have to admit that I am in no way walking in sinless perfection. Though I strive to, though I am willing for the Lord to show me my heart at any time-- i must trust that He will show me what He wants me to learn, when He wants to. I trust that He will deal with me as He will. I cannot work it, I cannot do it. I can only be willing.
As far as John Wesley is concerned, I still have many questions about his beliefs. I have read his biography and many things about his life and it was quite evident that despite his many 'rules' and 'disciplines' at a young age, attempting to be 'holy'-- it was not unitl a later age (30 something) that He finally found the peace and salvation of the Lord. No amount of getting up at 4:00 am, or holding a holy club and doing good, and seeking out all sinful behavior on his own could save him. No amount of keeping special rules could save him.
As someone quoted above about asking Wesley on his deathbed if it was possible, and with tears in his eyes, he responded that he had yet to attain it. That is very sad to me. It gives me a picture of a man who strived all of his life to achieve something that was impossible this side of heaven. Instead of resting and trusting the Lord for His salvation and cleansing work and sanctification, he seemed to be endlessly striving in the flesh, striving and working. The pressure he must have felt all of his life to try and meet this standard that was embedded in his mind. What an awful way to live. And to know that all his life, all that he strived for, was still not accomplished, what a failure he must have felt like. But in reality, [b]it was not his to accomplish, but the Lord's[/b]. If we are willing, if we are humble and childlike and open to correction at all times, the Lord WILL see to it that we are changed moment by moment. Life is a process of growing and changing. Who can tell me that once they were saved that they instantly became like Jesus and have walked in that ever since? Jesus was sinless perfection. He was our example to look to. But who is just like him in all ways and all areas of life?
Even Paul states : "Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me." Phil. 3:12 Do any of think us better or more holy than Paul? Yes, we must press on to perfection. We must always be changing and growing toward that goal. But as soon as we think we are perfect, is that not pride? Is that not an opportunity to be puffed up and think ourselves better than others?
Speaking of perfection, what of this verse: "But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection." Col 3:14 I can tell you right now, that i am lacking in this area. I know I have more to work on in this area of of love and not having a critical attitude. To me and to the Lord, these are sins. What must we say about these. In my life, I have such a long way to go to become more like Him. This is my desire to change more and more into His image, day by day, minute by minute, year by year. And He IS working this in me. I know this. I trust Him to do this in me. I can rest in the knowledge that He is in control of my life and my sanctification. But as I sit here, I can say with all honesty and humility, that I am no where near sinless or perfect. May God have His way with me and may His will be done.
In His love, Chanin