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 The FATAL TRAP of Holiness Preaching

Dear sermonindex community,

The following is an article that I recently wrote that I believe is a very misunderstood but extremely important subject. I am very interested in everybody's critique and opinions concerning this subject. I've seen too many true saints of God fall into the pit of despair because of condemnation and guilt caused by an over-emphasis on too much holiness. If you believe in holiness, please... READ THIS ARTICLE and share your thoughts, suggestions, etc.


[b]"The Fatal Trap of Holiness Preaching"[/b]

[i]A solemn warning to guard against the error of extremes[/i]

THE FATAL TRAP IS HIDDEN DEEP WITHIN THE DOCTRINE

Oh, the horror of it! There is a terrifying trap; a sinister snare; a wicked wile; a deadly delusion that a great too many saints of the Lord have fallen into to the peril, and sometimes even destruction, of their souls. This is an issue that must be addressed. If you would consider yourself to be a true saint of the Living God, and you adhere to the doctrines of holiness, then don’t let anything divert your attention from understanding, recognizing, and identifying this fatal trap. This trap is often laid hidden deep within the doctrines of holiness. We know that holiness preaching is Gospel preaching, and there is no other true Gospel other than that Gospel which promotes holiness through Christ, but dear saints, there is an error of extremes that we must stand guard against! There is a fatal trap in over-emphasizing a hyped up view of holiness, and we must take heed to beware of it, because many, failing to recognize this trap, have fallen into this error.


THE ABSOLUTE NECCESITY OF HOLINESS

Before we begin, let us understand that God is a holy God. The essence, substance and nature of His very Being is holiness. He dwells in a holy place, sitting on a holy Throne, surrounded by the holy angels and holy saints who worship Him in the beauty of holiness. Four living creatures, terrifying angelic beings who are sinless and absolutely holy themselves, surround His glorious Throne and say unceasingly, day and night, nonstop, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty”. Not only is God holy – He is thrice holy, completely holy, utterly and totally holy without the least imperfection, blemish or inconsistency in His holiness.

It is an undisputable fact that no sin can truly stand in His presence. Nothing but that which is holy may enter in to this majestic dwelling place of such a holy Being and remain in such a terrifying place without penalty. Only those who are holy will inherit this holy Kingdom. Since He is holy, His people are commanded – not suggested, but commanded – to be holy as well. Without holiness, no man shall see the Lord. Only those who purify themselves even as He is pure in their lives on this earth will ever attain to inheriting the pure holiness of Heaven in their lives hereafter. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God, and woe to those who are not pure in heart, but who live in uncleanness, for they shall not see this holy God in the splendor of His holy perfection.

Holiness of heart, in our lives here and now on this earth, is essential to salvation. Christ came to purchase for Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but one that would be holy and without blemish before Him. Therefore, if any individual is not holy, but is polluted with the spots, wrinkles, and blemishes of known sins, then they are not a part of the true church of God, consisting of His blood-bought saints, whose names are written in Heaven. Christ shed the Holy Ghost forth upon His church to enable and empower His people to be holy and to walk in holiness, so having these great and precious promises, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

The holiness of God and the fact of the essentiality of holiness in the life of any true Christian is a blessed and undeniable fact of the pure, unadulterated gospel truth. Let us preach this truth with a holy unction, proclaim it with a holy zeal, shout it abroad with a holy urgency, and march forth into the frontlines of the enemy’s territory with a holy determination, the blood-stained banner of the Lamb of God being raised on high, chanting, “Holiness to the Lord” as our battle-cry, and if we have to die in the midst of the battle, may we die with the truth of holiness upon our lips!


THE ERROR OF OVER-STRESSING HOLINESS

Knowing these blessed truths, however, let us take heed to ourselves, lest we fall into a disastrous soul-dooming snare. We must not be ignorant of the wiles and clever schemes of the wicked one. Oh, how the devil loves it when such an emphasis is placed on holiness that it leads to setting up a standard in the minds of the saints of God such an impossibility of perfection that they can never attain to it. If we must preach, Satan would much prefer that we preach an impossibly high standard of perfection and holiness than to preach no holiness at all, because it is by this that he can get a foothold in the lives of God’s true children through the weakness of their own conscience – their consciences being weakened by their failure to measure up to the standards of perfection – and through this foothold he can begin his dastardly work of tearing down the walls of their blessed assurance and thereby strip them of the faith by which they were justified.

The sad fact is; there is such an extreme heresy that is propagated abroad across our land today that proclaims a Savior from hell but not from sin. It preaches a salvation of forgiveness but not redemption. It teaches a form of justification by faith but not sanctification by faith. It preaches, “Ye must be born again” but doesn’t teach the marks of true regeneration. It teaches that a man becomes a new creature in Christ while he remains just the same. As a result, we have a gospel being spread abroad, which is another gospel (and no gospel at all), that says, “You can live in willful sin and still go to Heaven when you die”; containing a form of godliness that somehow forgives sins but contains no power to redeem from the current presence and dominion of sin in the life of a believer. This is heresy, damnable heresy, and is something the true saints of God don’t want to be found touching with a ten-foot stick, unless they are using such a stick to bash it down with a holy violence like that of Jehu when he went on an idol-smashing rampage in tearing down the image of Baal (see 2 Kings 10:24-28).

However, such an intense zeal to combat this error is precisely what leads to the problem. Zeal without the proper knowledge to direct it is potentially more disastrous than the proper knowledge without the zeal to ignite it. In combating the error of “sin-your-way-to-heaven” Antinomianism, many have fallen into the fatal trap of swinging the pendulum too far to the opposite extreme, preaching an impossibly high standard of holiness. Then, since nobody can meet these incredibly high standards, those who are truly born of God begin to condemn themselves and question their salvation because they cannot meet such standards. Thus, their assurance before God is shaken, their faith is destroyed, and they fall into the pit of self-condemnation.

Some, in attempting to combat the error of cheap grace, even go so far as to preach sinless perfection. This is error, serious error, and must be avoided as a deadly plague, lest we fall into the snare of the wicked one and cause the faith of God’s people to be shipwrecked. What is “sinless perfection”? It is a doctrine that teaches that true Christians live in a state of sinless-ness, having no sin. It teaches that from the moment one is truly born again, they will never sin again, and that anyone who does not live and walk in such a state is not saved. It teaches a standard of absolute perfection, and that if a Christian is not perfect and without sin, then such a person is no Christian at all. It teaches that if somebody gets born again, but then stumbles into any form of sin, no matter how small, then they are immediately thrust back under the wrath of God until they repent again (and there are greater and lesser sins; see Matthew 23:14, Luke 17:1-2, John 19:11, 1 John 5:16). Thus, there is no assurance for the believer in the finished work of Christ on the Cross, or in the one and perfect offering for sin by the precious blood of the eternal Covenant. Instead the life of the Christian becomes a fearful and vicious cycle containing bouts of assurance and happiness when they think they are being holy enough, and condemnation and depression when they fail to meet the standards of perfect holiness.

It is not necessary to take our stand on an extreme in order to combat the opposite extreme. Many, trying to refute the heresy of modern teachings that teach the grace of God as a license to sin, going too far to the opposite extreme, preach an incredibly and impossibly high standard of holiness. They have attempted to root out all the tares growing among the wheat. In doing so, however, they have sadly plucked out a few good grains of wheat. This is precisely what Jesus was warning about in Matthew 13:24-30, and this is what holiness preachers need to guard against.

The reason we need to guard against this fatal trap of extreme holiness preaching is because faith is directly related to conscience. When an individual gets born again, the blood of Christ is applied to the heart and the conscience is cleansed. They experience the peace of God that passes all understanding, the weight and burden of sin is removed, and their heart is cleansed by the living faith that the Holy Ghost imparts to their soul. As a result, they obtain the blessed assurance of sins forgiven. Since a man is initially justified by faith in Christ, and faith alone apart from works, and since the assurance of this faith is directly dependant on the state of the conscience, it is imperative that he keeps a clean conscience before God in order to maintain the faith necessary to believe unto salvation, because having true faith is directly related to having a clean conscience.

If the conscience gets spotted or defiled with any known or even perceived wrongdoing, then assurance before God is stripped away. If assurance before God is stripped away, then one begins to feel as if God has cut them off. In thinking this, faith itself in God as the Justifier of the ungodly is stripped away, and the individual is brought into a sad state of self-condemnation. Their faith then becomes utterly destroyed and justification before God becomes an impossibility, because without faith it is impossible to please God.

Over-emphasizing a high degree of holiness causes those who sit under such teaching, if they believe it, to examine themselves vigorously, over and over, to see if there is the smallest or tiniest degree of anything unholy in them. As extreme holiness is continually emphasized, they continue to examine themselves, and as soon as they find something unholy, they condemn themselves for it and fall into the trap of self-condemnation. They then continue to examine themselves almost endlessly, and their focus gets removed from Christ and His love, grace, and mercy, and their focus gets put on themselves and their works. Their righteousness becomes based on their deeds, works, and performance before God, rather than in the finished work of the Cross through the faith of Christ. Perfection becomes an obsession, and the sight of the Cross is at a loss.

Rather than preaching in such a way as to convict sinners and strengthen the faith of the saints, many go to the error of extreme holiness and preach in such a way as to condemn both sinners and saints alike. Now, this is not to say that a true saint will never need to be convicted about anything, or that we should never preach hard messages. Our preaching needs to be designed in such a way that it convicts instead of condemns, and that it is useful for spiritual growth and not spiritual destruction. If our preaching doesn’t pierce through and cut asunder the hearts of men like a sharp, two-edged sword, then what we’re preaching isn’t the true Word of God! But, at the same time, if it doesn’t apply the healing properties of that blessed Balm of Gilead after it wounds, and bind up the broken hearts with the bandages of Christ’s love, then it is potentially destructive to the souls of men. There is a fine line, and that line is determined by the perfect orderly balance of God’s wisdom according to the leading of the Spirit.

Oh, the trickery of it all! The masterfully orchestrated wiles of the devil! God forbid that we lay anything to the charge of God’s elect when it is God that justified them and they are following the Lord their God with all their heart! God forbid we join sides with the Accuser of the Brethren and condemn the consciences of God’s saints and destroy their faith! God forbid that we, through the good intentions of combating heresy, preach heresy ourselves! But on the other end, God forbid that we fail to preach holiness! God forbid we tolerate any known form of sin in the least! God forbid we fail to stand on the uncompromising truth of the word of God and declare the severity, justice, holiness and wrath of God!

We holiness preachers are walking a tightrope of truth, and erring on either side can be fatal! As it was in the days of Nehemiah, when the men who were building the walls of Jerusalem had to build with one hand and yield a weapon in the other, in the same way, we need to build the Church with one hand to edify the saints with revelations of the true grace of God, and hold our sword in the other to uncompromisingly fight against every sin which so easily besets us (see Nehemiah 4:17)! The enemy is surrounding us on all sides, and when he’s attacking the gates on the city walls, we’re still busy dealing with internal problems and uprisings – danger from within and danger from without!

The fact is: preaching and overemphasizing an extreme degree of holiness destroys the assurance and faith of the saints. No one is perfectly sinless. Ask any saint, any true born again child of God that has been walking with the Lord for a number of years; ask them if they have sinned even once since their conversion. Ask them if they’ve ever committed a single sin against God since they got born again. If they are not blind and stupid to the laws of God, they will most certainly and ashamedly tell you they have. Does this mean they weren’t born again? Does this mean that as soon as they sinned, God cut them off and declared them children of the devil and bound them fit for destruction in Hell?


IF WE SAY WE HAVE NO SIN, WE DECEIVE OURSELVES

“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8).

The beloved Apostle John, in inscribing these words on the sacred parchment of his first epistle, being a holy man moved upon by the Holy Ghost to record these holy words, has clearly said in the most plainest and straightforward language, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us”. This epistle is addressed to saints, warning against various dangers, extremes, and heresies that were attempting to creep their way into the Church in John’s old age, and as a guideline to the faith of Christ and the nature of true conversion.

Let us observe some facts concerning this statement of Scripture:

First, as we have already observed, it is written to Christians. John was not writing to heathen, nor was he writing to unconverted sinners. We know that this first epistle was directed toward Christians, “that [their] joy may be full” (1:4). Certainly, he is not writing that the joy of sinners may be full, but that the joy of the saints may be full, which proves that this epistle is directed toward those who already have a degree and measure of the joy of Christ. Only the saints have the joy of Christ.

Second, the great, holy and beloved Apostle includes himself by saying, “we”. He didn’t say, “If YOU say that you have no sin”, but he said, “If WE say that we have no sin…” This is a very remarkable and undeniably true observation. As holy as we know this great Apostle must have been, especially in the old age he was in when he wrote this epistle, he was still walking in such a degree of self-abasement and humility as to recognize his true condition before God, a condition that still had a measure of sin dwelling within the flesh and that didn’t yet have full and final redemption from the presence of sin (which would take place at final glorification – see 1 John 3:2). John knew that even he was not without sin, and he certainly knew he wasn’t “sinlessly perfect”, as some would say, which is why he includes himself in this statement.

Even the Apostle Paul agreed and admitted to the personal imperfections of his righteousness before God: “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12-14). This was written at about 61 AD, which was after his third missionary journey. If sinless perfection could be obtained, then without a doubt it should have been obtained by the Apostle Paul after enduring so much hardship, living in such devotion, and following hard after God for so many years, being “not a whit behind the chiefest Apostles”. In context of the perfection of which Paul is speaking, he is speaking of “attaining unto the resurrection of the dead” (verse 10) by being found in the righteousness of Christ by faith (verse 9). So, namely, he is talking about righteousness, and admitting that even he didn’t have a perfect righteousness on this earth, looking forward to full and final redemption, which would take place in the final work of redemption at the time of glorification.

The third thing we must observe is that it is in the present tense. It is not talking in the past tense. In other words, he is not talking about one saying that they have no sin prior to conversion, but one saying they have no sin after conversion. He is talking about sin dwelling in some measure in born again believers, and that if anyone denies this, they deceive themselves, being blind to their own unworthiness in the sight of God.

This is what Jesus meant when He said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit”. Being poor in spirit is not something that happens one time before conversion and then no longer applies to a saint, but it is an ever-present admission of our personal wretchedness before God and of our utter and total dependency on Him. Being poor in spirit is a work of God’s grace, and if this grace ever fails to be applied to the heart of a believer, they quickly stumble around in their own delusions, thinking of themselves more highly than they ought, and soon find themselves deceived and in bondage to a despicable self-righteousness.

The Greek word translated, “we have” in the phrase, “If we say we have no sin”, is the word, “echo”. Thayer’s Greek Definitions describes it as having, holding or possessing in present tense, or to have oneself in a certain condition, and as a primary, present tense verb. Both Vincent’s Word Studies and Robertson’s Word Pictures, two scholarly and accurate works on the Greek language in which the New Testament was written, agree upon the fact that this scripture is written in the present tense. It is also agreed upon and translated in the present tense by every single English translation of the Bible, proving that the teams of hundreds upon hundreds of Greek scholars who have translated this passage universally agree that this is referring to the present tense. There is not a single well-known English translation that translates this scripture in the past tense, as referring to the past life of a believer prior to conversion, as some people falsely say.

If anybody professes to be a child of God, but has absolutely no admitted unworthiness and admits no present form of indwelling sin in some measure, then they deceive themselves and the truth is not in them. This is precisely what the Apostle John is saying.

The word “sin” literally means, “to miss the mark”. Which one of us, even among those of us who are the most holy and devout, can say that we have no emotions, feelings, tempers, thoughts, words or actions which fall short of the standards of God’s perfection? “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:23-24). To sin means to come short of the glory of God, and this is something that sinners and saints do alike (though there is a huge difference between the two). Thank God that the saints are “justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus”, and not by the performance and perfections that proceed after their initial profession of faith, or else we would all be doomed!

In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus taught His disciples to pray, “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” This is how the Lord Jesus taught His holy Apostles to pray! Just prior to Him teaching them to pray for forgiveness for their sins, He said, “give us this day our daily bread”, clearly implying that this is a daily prayer that should be prayed. In other words, we need to constantly, in humility, recognize our shortcomings in the sight of God and humble ourselves under His mighty hand to ask for His mercy and grace to cover our offenses before Him. If we say we have no offenses before the all-seeing eyes of His holiness, we only deceive ourselves.

Granted, the saints of God do not live in sin. They do not willfully continue in any known form of sin like the unconverted do (Hebrews 10:26). To the saints, as soon as their own unworthiness, shortcomings, stumbles, or sins get brought to light, they are immediately abased and humbled. They utterly despise themselves for it. They hate it! And they confess it, repent and continue no more in it. They don’t practice any known form of sin. Once any form of inner or outer sin is brought to light by the searchlight of God’s Spirit, they are humbled at the feet of Christ, and they “go and sin no more”.

To the saints, sin is their bed of thorns, but to the unconverted, it is their hypocrite’s couch. Saints hate sin and do not continue in any known form of sin, but the unconverted lounge upon sin, and make excuses to justify it. A true saint will continually “walk in the light as he is in the light”, purging himself from every thing of darkness and uncleanness as soon as it is brought to the light, despising himself for it, and yield it to God to save him from it in a willing and earnest surrender, and he will continually walk in victory over all known sin; but an unconverted sinner will hold on to his sins because he loves them, and even if he may claim to love God with his mouth, he will continue to commit the same sins over and over and deny God by his actions. That’s the difference. Saints aren’t perfect, but they are striving for perfection, and while they are on the journey toward this perfection, they despise and even abhor themselves for their own imperfections.

This own self-abhorrence for inward corruption is not a self-condemnation or self-pity. These things come from the evil one. It is a self-abhorrence that produces “godly sorrow (which) worketh repentance”, and not “the sorrow of the world (which) worketh death” (2 Corinthians 7:10). This godly sorrow is completely different and distinct from depression. It is what Jesus meant by saying, “Blessed are the poor in spirit”, and “Blessed are those that mourn”, speaking of recognizing our own spiritual state before God, our personal guilt, helplessness, and of the utter emptiness of our own nature of everything good, and a conviction and realizing sense of being shut up to the grace of God alone for help. According to Jesus, this is a characteristic of the “blessed”, or in other words, a characteristic of true saints. There is a huge and fundamental difference between such godly sorrow and the sorrow of the world.

The error of many of those in the holiness crowd is that they fail to ever mention these truths. They preach holiness and sanctification until such a standard of perfection is implied that it is utterly impossible for anyone to meet these standards. Then, those who are actually true saints, but who have an awareness of their own unworthiness and poorness of spirit in the sight of God, begin to condemn themselves for their shortcomings and imperfections, until they begin to question their very salvation to begin with. Dear Lord, save us from this error!


THE REVIVALISTS AND GIANTS OF THE PAST AGREE TO THIS DOCTRINE

Matthew Henry, the famous Bible commentator, whose commentary was both loved and studied by men of such spiritual stature as George Whitefield and Charles Spurgeon, said: “We must beware of deceiving ourselves in denying or excusing our sins. The more we see them the more we shall esteem and value the remedy. If we deny them, the truth is not in us, either the truth that is contrary to such denial (we lie in denying our sin), or the truth of religion, is not in us. The Christian religion is the religion of sinners, of such as have sinned, and in whom sin in some measure still dwells. The Christian life is a life of continued repentance, humiliation for and mortification of sin, of continual faith in, thankfulness for, and love to the Redeemer, and hopeful joyful expectation of a day of glorious redemption, in which the believer shall be fully and finally acquitted, and sin abolished for ever.”

Would be to God that He would use these wise words to open the eyes of many believers who wallow around in a despondency of hopelessness, questioning their salvation, doubting God’s glorious promises, and wonder if God even loves them anymore! See what that great holiness preacher, Charles G. Finney, said regarding true believers who stumble into sin in his classic sermon, “Justification by Faith”:

“See that holy angel, sent on an errand of love to some distant part of the universe. God's eye follows him, and if he sees him likely to be injured in any way, all the divine attributes are enlisted at once to protect and sustain him. Just as absolutely are they all pledged for you, if you are justified, to protect and support and save you. Notwithstanding you are not free from remaining sin, and are so totally unworthy of God's love, yet if you are truly justified, the only wise and eternal God is pledged for your salvation. And shall you tremble and be faint-hearted, with such support?”

“If a human government pardons a criminal, it is then pledged to protect him as a subject, as much as if he had never committed a crime. So it is when God justifies a sinner. The Apostle says, "Being justified by faith, we have peace with God." Henceforth, God is on his side, and pledged as his faithful and eternal friend.”
“Gospel justification differs from legal justification, in this respect: If the law justifies an individual, it holds no longer than he remains innocent. As soon as he transgresses once, his former justification is of no more avail. But when the gospel justifies a sinner, it is not so; but "if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." A new relation is now constituted, entirely peculiar. The sinner is now brought out from under the covenant of works, and placed under the covenant of grace. He no longer retains God's favor by the tenure of absolute and sinless obedience. If he sins, now, he is not thrust back again under the law, but receives the benefit of the new covenant. If he is justified by faith; and so made a child of God, he receives the treatment of a child, and is corrected, and chastised, and humbled, and brought back again. "The gifts and calling of God are without repentance." The meaning of that is not, that God calls and saves the sinner without his repenting, but that God never changes his mind when once he undertakes the salvation of a soul.”

“I know this is thought by some to be very dangerous doctrine, to teach that believers are perpetually justified--because, say they, it will embolden men to sin. Indeed! To tell a man that has truly repented of sin, and heartily renounced sin, and sincerely desires to be free from sin, that God will help him and certainly give him the victory over sin, will embolden him to commit sin! Strange logic that! If this doctrine emboldens any man to commit sin, it only shows that he never did repent; that he never hated sin, and never loved God for his own sake, but only feigned repentance, and if he loved God it was only a selfish love, because he thought God was going to do him a favor. If he truly hated sin, the consideration that notwithstanding all his unworthiness God had received him as a child, and would give him a child's treatment, is the very thing to break him down and melt his heart in the most godly sorrow. O, how often has the child of God, melted in adoring wonder at the goodness of God, in using means to bring him back, instead of sending him to hell, as he deserved! What consideration is calculated to bring him lower in the dust, than the thought that notwithstanding all God had done for him, and the gracious help God was always ready to afford him, he should wander away again when his name was written in the Lamb's book of life!” (End Finney quote)

Finney, in the above quote, explains that when a true Christian, who is now under a Covenant of grace, stumbles into sin, he is not immediately thrust back under the Law by the wrath of God. Instead, he is chastised, disciplined, corrected, and straightened out so that he doesn’t disobey His Heavenly Father in like manner again. So, we see that even Charles Finney, one of the most strict holiness preachers of perhaps all time, didn’t even hold to the doctrines of sinless perfection or extreme holiness. He was very careful in his lectures to explain very clearly that a true Christian will stumble into and un-willfully sin against God, and that such a one will be lovingly brought back into fellowship with His Lord through the precious blood and merits of Christ’s finished work. We are justified by faith, not by works. True faith does work, but it doesn’t always work perfectly. It is always growing, always abounding, always being tried, purified, and strengthened. “For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again” (Proverbs 24:16).

That old field preaching revivalist George Whitefield, when speaking about persons who are “righteous over-much”, said, “It is of necessity that I speak, when the divinity of Jesus Christ is spoken against, it is the duty of ministers to cry aloud, and spare not. I cannot forbear, come what will; for I know not what kind of divinity we have not amongst us: we must have a righteousness of our own, and do our best endeavors, and then Christ will make up the deficiency; that is, you must be your own Savior, in part. This is not the doctrine of the gospel; this is not the doctrine of Jesus: no; Christ is all in all; Jesus Christ must be your whole wisdom; Jesus Christ must be your whole righteousness. Jesus Christ must be your whole sanctification; or Jesus Christ will never be any of your eternal redemption and sanctification… Our polite and fashionable doctrine is, ‘That there is a fitness in man, and that God, seeing you a good creature, bestows upon you His grace.’ God forbid, my dear brethren, you should thus learn Jesus Christ!”

Whitefield goes on to say, “This is not the doctrine I preach to you; I say, salvation is the free gift of God. It is God’s free grace, I preach unto you, not of works, lest any one should boast. Jesus Christ justifies the ungodly.”

In this quote, Whitefield talks about trusting in part of one’s own works to save one’s self, and then, where the works have a deficiency, then Christ steps in to make up for where the works are lacking. “God forbid”, as Whitefield had said! Christ must be our all in all – our justification, sanctification, and complete righteousness must be in Him and Him alone! When we fail to exalt the Lord Jesus; when we fail to lift up the finished work of the Cross; when we fail to preach justification by faith; when we fail to expound upon the great and hidden treasures of God’s matchless grace by His unearned, undeserved, sovereign favor based upon His own mercy and love, then we’ve failed to preach the Gospel!

The sad tragedy of a great too many dear, precious souls is that they began in the Spirit by faith, but then seek to perfect themselves through the flesh by works, and when the unstable tendencies of human nature prevent those works from being good enough to meet the standards of some doctrines of perfection, condemnation sets in and all true faith in Christ alone is lost. Unless your works are rooted and grounded by faith in Christ alone as your righteousness, done out of sincere love and desire to please Him and not out of religious duty, obligation, or a sense of trying to earn your own righteousness, then they are nothing but filthy rags and a rotten stench in the nostrils of God. The focus must be on Christ! Look to Calvary’s Cross – not to the filthy rags of your own righteousness!

Interestingly, many of those in the holiness crowd who turn the doctrines of Christ into a kind of legalistic perfection claim to love and follow the teachings of John Wesley, and claim to derive their doctrine from his theology on “Christian Perfection”. They claim that they believe the same things as Wesley believed and preached. However, many are totally ignorant of Wesley’s doctrine.

In his sermon called, “On Sin in Believers”, John Wesley comes against the Moravians for preaching a form of sinless perfection and driving weaker Christians into a mode of despondency and despair, rather than strengthening and encouraging their faith by which they could overcome such inward unholy tempers and emotions. Listen to his words in this sermon:

“And as this position, ‘There is no sin in a believer, no carnal mind, no bent to backsliding,’ is thus contrary to the word of God, so it is to the experience of his children. These continually feel an heart bent to backsliding; a natural tendency to evil; a proneness to depart from God, and cleave to the things of earth. They are daily sensible of sin remaining in their heart, -- pride, self-will, unbelief; and of sin cleaving to all they speak and do, even their best actions and holiest duties. Yet at the same time they ‘know that they are of God;’ they cannot doubt of it for a moment. They feel his Spirit clearly ‘witnessing with their spirit, that they are the children of God.’ They ‘rejoice in God through Christ Jesus, by whom they have now received the atonement.’ So that they are equally assured, that sin is in them, and that "Christ is in them the hope of glory."

"But can Christ be in the same heart where sin is?" Undoubtedly he can; otherwise it never could be saved therefrom. Where the sickness is, there is the Physician, Carrying on his work within, Striving till he cast out sin. Christ indeed cannot reign, where sin reigns; neither will he dwell where any sin is allowed. But he is and dwells in the heart of every believer, who is fighting against all sin; although it be not yet purified, according to the purification of the sanctuary.”

Wesley goes on to say a few paragraphs later, “We are ‘reconciled to God through the blood of the cross:’ And in that moment the jronhma sarkos, the corruption of nature, which is enmity with God, is put under our feet; the flesh has no more dominion over us. But it still exists; and it is still in its nature enmity with God, lusting against his Spirit… I do not suppose any man who is justified is a slave to sin: Yet I do suppose sin remains (at least for a time) in all that are justified.”

In the summary of this sermon, Wesley concludes by saying, “The sum of all is this: There are in every person, even after he is justified, two contrary principles, nature and grace, termed by St. Paul the flesh and the Spirit. Hence, although even babes in Christ are sanctified, yet it is only in part. In a degree, according to the measure of their faith, they are spiritual; yet, in a degree they are carnal. Accordingly, believers are continually exhorted to watch against the flesh, as well as the world and the devil. And to this agrees the constant experience of the children of God. While they feel this witness in themselves, they feel a will not wholly resigned to the will of God. They know they are in him; and yet find an heart ready to depart from him, a proneness to evil in many instances, and a backwardness to that which is good. The contrary doctrine is wholly new; never heard of in the church of Christ, from the time of his coming into the world, till the time of Count Zinzendorf; and it is attended with the most fatal consequences. It cuts off all watching against our evil nature, against the Delilah which we are told is gone, though she is still lying in our bosom. It tears away the shield of weak believers, deprives them of their faith and so leaves them exposed to all the assaults of the world, the flesh, and the devil.”

“Let us, therefore, hold fast the sound doctrine ‘once delivered to the saints,’ and delivered down by them with the written word to all succeeding generations: That although we are renewed, cleansed, purified, sanctified, the moment we truly believe in Christ, yet we are not then renewed, cleansed, purified altogether; but the flesh, the evil nature, still remains (though subdued) and wars against the Spirit. So much the more let us use all diligence in ‘fighting the good fight of faith.’ So much the more earnestly let us ‘watch and pray’ against the enemy within. The more carefully let us take to ourselves, and "put on, the whole armor of God;" that, although ‘we wrestle’ both ‘with flesh, and blood, and with the principalities, and with powers, and wicked spirits in high places,’ we may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” (End of Wesley Quotations)

Obviously, not even did John Wesley, a prince among holiness preachers, believe in any form of sinless perfection. To the contrary, he clearly and unmistakably preached against it and corrected others who fell into this error.

Regarding Wesley’s theology concerning “Christian Perfection”, we must be absolutely clear to distinguish and mark the difference between this and “sinless perfection”. They are two totally different and radically opposed doctrines. Wesley himself makes this distinction in his sermons and articles on the subject, and he makes it a very clear point to say that he is not teaching sinless perfection. Christian perfection, as Wesley taught it, was not a perfection of knowledge, or a perfection of absolute righteousness via the absence of sin, but it is a perfection of love, and once this perfect love is obtained, one is able to walk in a state of true heart holiness. This is what he taught; a perfection of love and of the heart’s motives toward God and man, not a perfection of being without sin. There is a huge difference, and the understanding of this difference among those who claim to follow Wesley’s teachings can be the difference between sound theology and heresy.

Let us not depart from the faith that was once and for all delivered to the saints! The testimony of the Word of God lays out a clear case saying we must constantly beat our bodies to bring them under subjection, to deny ourselves and take up our cross daily, to walk in benevolence toward God and man and be on our constant guard against the snares of the world, the flesh, and the devil. The day we fail to deny ourselves and take up our cross is the day that the flesh prevails over the Spirit and we stumble into sin! We are not perfect and freed from the presence of all sin until that great and glorious day when Christ shall appear and transform us into His likeness; that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is!

The testimony of Scripture clearly declares that there is a constant war going on in our flesh until the day we die. The testimony of the experience of the saints also declares that there will be stumbles and falls until that Day of final redemption. And the testimony of the great men of God from the past also unanimously declares exactly the same. Dare we argue against the three-fold testimony of such truthful and reliable witnesses?

The good news is that we can have victory and dominion over all known forms of sin now, here in this life, and that Christ will empower us to live in such freedom; that through Christ we can be holy; that by the power of the Cross we can be crucified to the flesh with its’ affections and lusts and by the power of His resurrection to walk in the newness of life in righteousness and true holiness of heart before God. In fact, we must walk in such victory, or else our souls are in grave danger!


WHOSOEVER IS BORN OF GOD DOES NOT COMMIT SIN

“Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God” (1 John 3:9).

The objection arises: “Wait a minute! How do explain this scripture? Does it not totally contradict everything you’ve just said?”

Herein lies the truth of this matter. The Apostle John says in chapter one of his first epistle, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves”, and then just a couple chapters later declares, “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin”; so which one is true? Which scripture do we believe? They are at odds, one against the other! They can’t both be true, can they?

They most certainly are both true and they do not contradict each other; but rather, they complement one another and, observed together, lead us to the true understanding of this matter. These verses do not stand face-to-face in a brawl against one another, but they rather stand back-to-back, defending the truth of the gospel against two different heresies. The first heresy being that one can be perfect and sinless, and the second heresy saying that one can continue in known sin and still inherit the Kingdom of God. Both of these extremes must be avoided, and this is what John is warning against.

The key to understanding these scriptures lies in making the distinction being willful and un-willful sin. In other words, sin that is consciously and deliberately committed as a voluntary act of the will (willful sin), and sin that is unconsciously and ignorantly stumbled into against the will (un-willful sin). Whosoever is born of God does not commit sin, that is, he does not commit willful sin as a deliberate act of his own choice to rebel against God. At the same time, if one claims to be born of God and yet says he is without un-willful or unconscious sin within him as a part of his fallen nature, he deceives himself and the truth is not in him. That is the difference, and making this distinction is absolutely essential to correctly understanding the scriptures on this subject.

John makes this distinction later when he says, “If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it. All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death” (1 John 5:16-17). Notice the terminology he uses when he says, “If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death”, clearly saying that a man can be a brother in the Lord and stumble into sin, as long as it’s a sin that’s not unto death (as long as it’s not willful sin). However, there is a sin unto death that we should not pray for, because if a so-called “brother” commits a sin unto death, he is no brother at all! If that’s the case, he doesn’t need prayer and restoration, he needs repentance and regeneration!

The difference between the sin unto death and the sin that is not unto death is the difference between willful and un-willful sin. A born again child of God will not voluntarily and willfully commit any known sin against God and continue in it. If someone claims to be a Christian, but says, “I think I’m going to lie to so-and-so to make myself look better”, premeditating on telling a lie, choosing to do it, and then actually committing the sin of telling a deliberate lie, then they are no Christian, for all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone (Revelation 21:8). That is a sin unto death that a born again Christian will not ever dare to deliberately do because it is against the nature of the seed of God’s word that abides within him. That is what it means to commit sin in a voluntary and willful transgression of the Law.

However, a true Christian may stumble into stretching the truth and bearing false testimony to something because of such a stretch of truth, not even consciously thinking about what he is doing. Could a born again Christian stumble into an exaggeration, which is in fact bearing false testimony, and still be born again? Yes, no doubt about it. However, as soon as the Spirit of God convicts him of it, he will confess his sin and turn from it, even abhorring his own inner corruption for doing such a foolish thing, and he will endeavor with a holy determination to never even come close to doing it again. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

Hebrews 10:26-27 says, “For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.” In other words, if we claim to be Christians but continue in any known form of willful sin, which means we know it is sin, and yet we continue to do it anyway, after we know the truth as it is in Jesus, then no sacrifice is left to cover our sins and we are still bound under the wrath of God. A true born again child of God will not sin willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth about the one whose name is “JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). This is exactly what John means when he says, “Whosoever is born of God does not commit sin”. They do not sin willfully after receiving knowledge of the truth.

A true Christian will be holy, for without holiness no man shall see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14). This means they will live up to the full light of their conscience, endeavoring, laboring and even striving to keep a clean conscience in the sight of God, walking in inward purity and love with everything that is within them. They will not continue in any known form of sin. They will despise their imperfections, abhor the least of their inner corruptions, and cry out to God constantly saying, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who have trespassed against us” under a genuine humility and godliness of character. To a true Christian, the smallest and tiniest of his inward imperfections and sins will be as abominable to his new nature as a bowl of hot, steamy vomit would be appetizing to his stomach.

However, a false convert (one who claims to be a Christian but is not) will continue in known sin even though he knows it is sin, and even though he may confess it, he doesn’t truly repent to “go and sin no more”, thus proving that he is not born of God according to 1 John 1:9. Rather than being free from sin like a true Christian, he is in bondage to sin and won’t be able to get completely free apart from true conversion and regeneration. The fact that he commits sin, and continues to sin willfully after receiving knowledge of the truth, proves that he is not a child of God.


A WORD TO THOSE WHO CONTINUE IN ANY KNOWN SIN

Dear soul: if you have any known form of sin in your life, then repent! Don’t dare play the harlot on God by adulterating yourself with the affairs of this world; knowing that whosoever is the friend of the world is the enemy of God (James 4:1-4). Don’t dare hold in your own heart the smallest bosom sin – it is deadlier than cyanide and will kill your soul a thousand times worse than the most torturous death you can possibly imagine. Know, that whatever your sin, there is time now to repent, but if you refuse to repent, that sin will bring forth a woefully awful eternal death for your soul! As Charles Spurgeon said, “Come to him just as thou art, but renounce thy sins. Ask him to set thee free from every lust, from every false way, from every evil thing, or else, mark thee, thou shalt never find grace and favor at his hands. The greatest sin in the world, repented of, shall be forgiven, but the least unrepented sin shall sink thy soul lower than the lowest hell.”

If you have any known disobedience or sin in your life that you refuse to repent from and turn away from once and for all, then don’t you dare take any of these words as a justification for your heinous rebellion against God! Willful sin shall never be winked at by the Almighty’s piercing eye of justice and holiness! If the Son hasn’t set you free, and if you don’t have dominion over all known sin in your life, then you are yet a child of the devil and it’s the works of your father, the devil, that you do! Go to now, and follow your father into the fires of eternal misery that await him, unless you choose to change your mind and confess your sins so the precious blood of Christ can cleanse you and save you from them! Don’t dare think that Christ will save you from the wrath of God if you will not have Him first save you from all known sin! If you are a willful sinner on this earth now, then you shall be brought to a woeful simmer as you burn in the flames of God’s justice in Hell! If this is you, repent!


A WORD TO THOSE WHO ARE SELF-CONDEMNED

Contrary to being a willful sinner, perhaps you are one of those dear souls who have been genuinely and truly converted by the grace of God. You love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength and you love your neighbor as yourself. You know you were among the chief of sinners until God transformed you by His love and mercy. You have had a real, dramatic, living and powerful revelation of Christ being revealed to your heart and have received a living faith wherewith you have believed unto the saving of your soul. You became a new creature in Christ, created in the image of God after the inner man, and walked with God in fellowship with His Spirit by faith. You have no known form of sin in your life. You constantly pray, search yourself, examine yourself to see if you are in the faith, and ask God to reveal anything that is hindering you in your relationship with Him.

However, you have fallen into the trap of setting the standard too high, of hearing the holiness of God and the necessity of holiness in the life of a true saint emphasized so much that subconsciously, within your heart of hearts, you have believed that unless you meet some standards of ridiculously high perfection, you must certainly be condemned. You are always feeling guilty because although you have prayed, you haven’t prayed enough, or hard enough. Although you read and study the Word of God, you don’t understand as you should. Although you love and serve God, and walk in holiness as far as you can possibly know, it feels like you haven’t entered into God’s rest by faith, and you are in bondage to constantly trying to work and work your way into maintaining a right-standing with God. Having begun in the Spirit by the grace of God, you have fallen from grace and backslid into a salvation based on works, striving in the flesh to obey God lest He cut you off. Away with such lies in the name of Jesus!

Dear soul: if you are walking in no known form of sin; if you are not sinning willfully against God; if you have forsaken all to follow Jesus; if you have been truly converted and born again and have received the witness of the Spirit within your heart, and you are continuing to follow and serve God with all your heart, then for the sake of God’s glory, don’t make Him out to be a liar by doubting His exceeding great and precious promises! He has pledged Himself by covenant to undertake the salvation of your soul if you will only believe!

“For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more” (Hebrews 8:8-12).

God promises under the New Covenant, purchased by the blood of Christ, to be merciful to your unrighteousness, and to forget your sins and iniquities, if you are walking in true heart surrender before Him to believe in Him with all your heart and to love and serve and obey Him out of love and devotion and gratitude for what He did on the Cross, not out of a fear of punishment, for perfect love casts out all fear. If the gracious Lord has forgiven you much, don’t condemn yourself and try to perfect yourself by working up a right standing with God, but love Him much in return – that’s all He asks. Show Him you love Him by believing in Him as your righteousness. “Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent” (John 6:28-29).

“What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:31-39).

Your salvation is based on the blood of Jesus and by faith in that blood, not upon your feelings, your performances, or any other thing, “for by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified” (Hebrews 10:14). If you are sanctified and totally devoted to the Lord, then the precious blood of the Lamb has taken away your sin and His one offering perfects you forever!

“Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:14-16).

Are you feeling condemned, even though you have been born of God? Hold fast your profession of faith! Don’t waver or doubt! He who has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Christ Jesus! Are you in a time of need and you need grace to help you with your infirmities? Behold, the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world! He knows the feeling of your infirmities, and was tempted in all the same ways, yet was without sin, and thereby He invites you to come to Him, just as you are, with all your unbelief, all your questions, all your doubts, all your fears, all your uncertainties, and even all your sins, and He will freely and openly accept you into the everlasting mercies of the Father and give you the grace you need.

“And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death” (Revelation 12:10-11).

Don’t listen to the lies of the Accuser of the Brethren! Cast him down in the name of Jesus! Stand unmovable, unshakable, by faith in the precious blood of the Lamb! Hold fast the confession of your testimony before God and never forget the glorious work that His Spirit has undertaken in your soul! Love not your life unto the death, and you will receive the Crown of Life that God gives to those that love Him! Hold fast to your profession of faith, dear saints!


DON’T JOIN THE ACCUSER OF THE BRETHREN

Beware of over-exalting the doctrines of holiness to the extent that a legalistic form of perfection is established in the minds of those who adhere to such teachings, causing them to fall under the condemnation of the devil for failing to meet up to those perfections. Don’t join sides with the Accuser of the Brethren to accuse and condemn the saints of God, or even yourself if you are truly a saint, but instead, stand strong in faith, giving glory to God, staggering not at the promise of God through unbelief, but having the anchor of your hope firmly planted in the Rock of Calvary’s Cross!

Don’t dare say you are without sin before the face of God, lest you deceive yourself and think more highly of yourself than you ought. You, no matter how holy and righteous you are, need His mercy and grace just as much as the worst sinner that ever walked the face of the earth, and if you will be saved, it will only be by the same way that they will be saved: by grace through faith. The most holy saint needs the grace of God as much as the most wicked, undeserving sinner if any one of them is to be saved. In fact, the saint needs it even more so in order to maintain his walk with God every day. Neither one deserves God’s grace; it is a free gift of His sovereign mercy. And if God has undertaken the work of saving your soul by shedding His grace forth upon you and converting your soul, then dare you question the work He began?

Saints, we have enough against us: the world, the flesh, and the devil. Let us recognize our enemy, expose his lies, and stand strong in faith against his clever schemes and slick wiles. Let’s not join ranks alongside the hoards of Hell to condemn the saints and to condemn ourselves along with them by preaching legalism or perfection in the mask of holiness. Let’s not be guilty of swinging the pendulum of truth too far, to the opposite extreme when combating the errors of the antinomians. Instead, let’s lift up Jesus! Let’s raise up on high the old rugged Cross that all men may be drawn to Him! Let’s focus on Him as the Lord of all lords and King of all kings! Let’s preach His holiness, His righteousness, His justice, His wrath, His mercy, His love, and His grace without fail! And may we never again be guilty of over-emphasizing certain of these attributes of our majestic Lord while totally neglecting other of His glorious attributes, lest we present a lopsided view of God and thereby portray a false image of Him to the world. We want the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the whole and entire truth, so help us God! Oh, dear Lord, help us!


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 2007/6/17 1:36









 Re: Holiness is not sinless perfection

(edit) I had problems linking so reposted the article here)

HOW THE DEVIL USES THE PHRASE "SINLESS PERFECTION"
TO SCARE AWAY MANY SINCERE
SOULS FROM SEEKING A LIFE OF HOLINESS

Have we really grasped the fact that the Victorious Life is a gift from God? We may think of it as "the fullness of the Holy Spirit," or we may think of it as Jesus Christ dwelling in the heart. Personally, the writer finds the greatest help from the fact of the indwelling Christ, and the consciousness of this indwelling.

After all, the Holy Spirit's chief work is to take of the things of Christ, and show them to us.
HOW TO GET A GIFT

But however we may regard it, the Victorious Life is a gift. "If ye being evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?"

"If thou knewest the gift of God," said our Lord to a sinful woman, "and Who it is that saith to thee, 'Give Me to drink,' thou wouldest have asked of Him and He would have given thee living water" (John 4:10).
Now what must I do to secure a gift? Just take it. If a gift is offered me for the asking, will it please the giver if, instead of taking the gift, I spend long weeks, or months, or years begging and praying and agonising for it?

Would it give pleasure to a father and mother if their children sat up all night agonising in prayer for the Christmas gift they had promised to give them?

If they did such a thing, their "agonising" would have absolutely nothing to do with their receiving the gifts. One could well imagine the distressed father telling his children that if they didn't cease their petitions and get to bed and trust him, they should get no gifts at all!

Jesus Christ is the great Christmas Day Gift. "Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift" (2nd Corinthians 9:15). That gift is ours. Someone has said, "Our Lord wants our lives on earth to be one long Christmas Day of receiving His gift of Himself as our victory."

We do not need to "agonise" about it; we do not need to work for it. Provided we are wholly surrendered to God, we have simply to "receive," "take" the Gift of Christ Himself.

But did not Jesus Christ tell His disciples "to tarry in Jerusalem until [they were] endued with power from on high"? Yes, He did. "Wait," said He, "for the promise of the Father."

But that was before Pentecost.
READY FOR OUR ACCEPTANCE

We never hear of the disciples after Pentecost telling believers to "wait" for this gift. In fact, we read in the 10thchapter of the Acts that the gift of the Holy Spirit fell upon "all them that heard the word," while St. Peter was yet speaking to the household of Cornelius, although none of them was yet baptised. The Holy Spirit was given to Gentiles without delay, on simple faith in Jesus Christ. There is no need today to wait at all. If we fulfil the conditions, we can claim the gift.

The earliest disciples did not at first appreciate the value and necessity of this gift. Our Lord seems to have told "more than 500 brethren" to "tarry ye in the city, until ye be clothed with power from on high." Yet only 120 obeyed the command, and consequently only 120 received the gifts on the day of Pentecost - the gift meant for all.

Let us today make no mistake about this. Our Lord is longing to fill every believer with His Holy Spirit. Christ is desirous of dwelling in our entire hearts by faith. Not until we have surrendered our wills to Him and have yielded our bodies to Him as well as our souls can He fill us with Himself.

This is what Paul means when he prays "that He would grant you to be strengthened by His Spirit with power penetrating to your inmost being" (Ephesians 3:16, Weymouth). "That ye may be filled unto all the fulness of God" (Eph. 3:19), "till we all attain unto the measure... of the fullness of Christ" (4:13), "the fullness of Him that filleth all in all" (1:23).
CHRIST IN HIS FULLNESS

It is very wonderful that He should be willing to come. But it is a glorious thing that He should be willing to take absolute responsibility in our lives, because He cannot make a mistake, and He cannot fail.

It seems incredible that any believer should refuse such a gift. Again we urge you - receive Him in His fullness by faith. Do not wait for or expect any "thrill," any "ecstasy." You may feel one, and you may not. But take Christ at His word, and believe that He has come into your heart to be your life. Then rely upon Him to supply all your need.

"Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear My voice and open the door, I will come in to him" (Revelation 3:20).

Bear in mind that Christ is already in the heart of every believer - even in the heart of one who is only following afar off. But in so many cases He is not filling the WHOLE heart. He has only partial possession; He has not complete control. There are often chambers of the heart which are shut against Him. And not only closed, but with a lodger within, and that lodger a burglar waiting his time to gain entrance to other rooms within. "If any man... open the door."

We Christians sometimes sing:

"O Jesu, Thou art standing

Outside the fast closed door,

In lowly patience waiting

To pass the threshold o'er:

Shame on us, CHRISTIAN brothers,

His name and sign who bear:

Oh, shame - thrice shame upon us,

To keep Him standing there."

And with the great majority of believers this is true of some part of the heart.

But it isn't so much the "shame" as the utter folly of it. For we know that He wishes to gain access to the whole of our hearts simply to bring richest blessing.

Paul implores the Roman Christians, "Yield yourselves unto God." He himself did so, and "heard His voice," with no closed door between - words unutterable; he felt joy unspeakable and full of glory, and in the fullness of his heart he cries, "Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift."
TEMPTATION AND FAILURE

"Is it possible to lose the Victorious Life?" is a question often asked. Indeed, it is possible. Temptation will certainly come, and failure may occur. A great Christian leader of men told the writer, a few days ago, how he had sometimes temporarily lost the victory. "But," said he, "whenever I've failed, it has always been through the sin of worrying." Yet there NEED be no failure. We have a perfect Savior. When we look back upon a break in this wonderful communion with Christ, we shall always have to confess that the failure need not have occurred.
SINLESS PERFECTION?

There are many saintly souls who openly declare that they never sin. They claim sinless perfection. They also claim that St. John teaches such a thing.

"We know that whosoever is begotten of God sinneth not, but He that was begotten of God (i.e., Jesus Christ) keepeth him, and the evil one toucheth him not" (1 John 5:18). "Whosoever is begotten of God doeth no sin, because His seed (Jesus Christ ) abideth in Him, and he cannot sin, because he is begotten of God" (1 John 3:9).

These statements refer not to single acts of sin, but to habitual sin. The tense used in the Greek does not imply that he cannot commit one definite act of sin, but that he cannot continue sinning; he cannot make a practice of sinning, or frequently repeat acts of sin; it is not his habit to sin. John is here speaking of known and voluntary sins, not of sins of infirmity or the falling short of the glory of God.
TENDENCY OR POSSIBILITY

Any man can sin. Any man can tell a lie. But we know what we mean when we say "An honest man cannot lie." We do not accuse George Washington of untruth when he declared "I cannot tell a lie!"

Every sin is against a good man's nature. We say the "wood cannot sink." this is true. The tendency of wood is always to float. Yet there is always the possibility of its sinking. The hand of a child may submerge it; when sodden with water it will lie on the bottom. When the child releases it, it floats again. When a man is living the victorious life - a life maintained and actually lived for him by the indwelling Christ - there is no tendency to sin. He desires always to do those things which are pleasing to God. But there is always the awful possibility of his sinning. He may become absorbed in the "world;" he may allow temptation to gain entrance and the hand of Satan upon him may drag him down. So long, however, as a man is fully surrendered to Christ and in full communion with Him, he cannot sin. But such a life is a moment by moment victory through a moment by moment faith. At any time he can partially withdraw his surrender or break his communion.
IN THE FATHER'S HANDS

A railway coach attached to a moving locomotive cannot stop. But at any moment the coupling may break and a stoppage ensue. Let us, however, repeat the statement that no man need commit any known and voluntary sin. "He is able to keep (guard) that which I have committed unto Him." The marginal reading is, "He is able to guard that which He hath committed unto me" (2 Timothy 1:12).

Both statements are true - praise be to God. "He is able to keep you from stumbling" (Jude 24).

Moreover our Lord Himself says of His followers, "No man shall snatch them out of My hand" ... "And no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand" (John 10:28-29). And it is evident that our Savior has made every provision for guarding us lest we snatch ourselves out of His hand. The victory over sin which is secured from faith in Christ is, however, a moment by moment victory, and we must ever be "looking unto Jesus, the Beginner and Finisher of our faith" (Hebrews 12:2).

But thanks be to God, it isn't our "looking unto Jesus" that gives us the victory, but "His looking unto us." Peter could see the Lord despitefully used, and whilst looking at Him could curse and deny that he knew Him. But when our Savior "turned and looked upon Peter", no further denial was possible. Not our faith, but His faithfulness, is our safeguard.

The indwelling Christ is more than equal to all emergencies. So long as we trust Him fully and obey His smallest behest - so long shall we continue in victory. Why then should a man ever commit any voluntary sin? And why are we surprised when a fully sanctified Christian man tells us he never sins knowingly?
THE CAUSE OF FAILURE

The reason why even fully consecrated Christians are sometimes "overtaken in a fault" is because the majority of believers are not fully surrendered to the will of God. It would be safe to say that most Christians think very little of such sins as pride, anger, irritability, impatience, jealousy, self-seeking, un-love and suchlike. It is, therefore, such an easy thing for a man living the Victorious Life to fall into any of these sins; so many of his fellow-Christians do so unblushingly. And should he fall probably no one is in the least surprised at it! Moreover, no one but a wholly sanctified man can reprove such a one, or he will get the reply, "Physician, heal thyself," or even be referred to the "beam" and the "mote." In fact, only a "spiritual" man can help him. As St. Paul says, "If a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual restore such a one" (Galatians 6:1).

Yet how easy it is to live the life of victory when in the company of wholly sanctified men and women! Oh, that there were many more such!

Why are we surprised when a man says he has reached a state of "sinless perfection"? Well, as a rule it is perfectly obvious to anyone but himself that he has not reached such an ideal. Sooner or later he is "overtaken in a fault." A saintly Christian man was recently arguing this point at a big luncheon party, and he claimed "sinless perfection" for himself. A fellow guest quietly said, whether in sincerity or as a test I know not, "Forgive me for saying so, but I was thinking you were a little greedy over your food!" "I've never yet been accused of greed over anything," flashed out the reply, "nor will I allow YOU to accuse me!" The warmth with which the retort was made raised a smile on the faces of all who heard it; practice and profession so evidently disagreed. This little story proves both the statements made above. The "sinlessly perfect" man is sometimes irritable and angry, and when he is "overtaken in a fault" the average Christian is both amused and pleased!
SINS OR "INFIRMITIES"

The writer has had the privilege of meeting believers who claim "sinless perfection." He sat at a table with one at every meal for a week. To be quite frank he must acknowledge that he saw no outward trace of any sin. But this dear child of God took the writer to task in a kindly way for not preaching sinless perfection. This led to a long chat on the subject. My critic declared that a violent temper had been completely eradicated by the Lord Jesus. But he confessed to occasional feelings of impatience, irritability, and un-love. "These, however, I regard as INFIRMITIES and not as sins," said he.

My experience is that when men who profess sinless perfection are tackled about it, they always maintain that "little" things which WE call sins are only infirmities. Brothers, take your infirmities to Christ, and let the "strength of Christ rest upon you" (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Sometimes, alas! great harm is done to the cause of Christ by men professing "sinless perfection," and boasting about it, even while allowing things in their lives which give the lie to their profession.

One such came to a friend of the writer to consult him on a business question. It was such an obvious case of sharp practice, if not of downright dishonesty, that my friend said in surprise, "How does such an act fit in with your profession of sinless perfection?" "Oh, business is business," came the impatient reply. "And I will have nothing to do with this piece of business, then," answered my friend.

We have dealt at length on this point because the devil uses the bogey of "sinless perfection" to scare away many sincere souls from seeking a life of holiness.

Our position is just this: So long as a fully surrendered believer simply trusts the Lord Jesus to keep him and to conquer his temptations for him, he need not commit wilful sin. It is, therefore, quite legitimate and right and fitting that we should pray every morning, "Grant that this day we fall into no sin." "Vouchsafe, O Lord, to keep us this day without sin." And Christ is able to keep us even from stumbling (Jude 24, RV). And He does keep us just so long as we trust Him to do so.

Yet at any moment we may fall into sin. It is a moment by moment victory. Many who read this will gladly confess to have experienced this freedom from known sin for five minutes, for ten minutes, for an hour, and for a much longer time. But we shall all sadly confess that at times we wilfully harbour a sinful thought and sometimes even commit knowingly some sinful act, falling under some sudden temptation. As we look back upon it, we are confident that we need not have sinned. It was "our own most grievous fault." Moreover, we find that the majority of such slips are due to unchristian acts or words of other believers. They are more often due to the low level of spiritual life in fellow-Christians than to the opposition of the world.

Do not condemn us, but claim victory for yourself and so raise the standard around us.

Claim victory for yourself, and show us by practical demonstration what a glorious life can be lived by one who is wholly Christ's.


 2007/6/17 9:04
Christisking
Member



Joined: 2005/7/20
Posts: 672
Los Angeles, California

 Re:

Josef,

This is an excellent article and although it is a bit long I would encourage everyone to read it for it is WELL WORTH the time to read.

If you have ever run across the doctrine of sinless perfection YOU NEED TO READ THIS ARTICLE.

Thank you soooo much for posting this Josef!!!

Patrick
www.revivalarmy.com


_________________
Patrick Ersig

 2007/6/17 14:15Profile
Forevidence
Member



Joined: 2004/7/29
Posts: 711
Riverside

 Re:

Just some thoughts as I read your article...

Quote:

Some, in attempting to combat the error of cheap grace, even go so far as to preach sinless perfection. This is error, serious error, and must be avoided as a deadly plague, lest we fall into the snare of the wicked one and cause the faith of God’s people to be shipwrecked. What is “sinless perfection”? It is a doctrine that teaches that true Christians live in a state of sinless-ness, having no sin. It teaches that from the moment one is truly born again, they will never sin again, and that anyone who does not live and walk in such a state is not saved. It teaches a standard of absolute perfection, and that if a Christian is not perfect and without sin, then such a person is no Christian at all. It teaches that if somebody gets born again, but then stumbles into any form of sin, no matter how small, then they are immediately thrust back under the wrath of God until they repent again (and there are greater and lesser sins; see Matthew 23:14, Luke 17:1-2, John 19:11, 1 John 5:16). Thus, there is no assurance for the believer in the finished work of Christ on the Cross, or in the one and perfect offering for sin by the precious blood of the eternal Covenant. Instead the life of the Christian becomes a fearful and vicious cycle containing bouts of assurance and happiness when they think they are being holy enough, and condemnation and depression when they fail to meet the standards of perfect holiness.



Well, if this is damnable heresy then many Methodist's are in the bruning lake of fire, because they believe this very thing. That I saint can live in a state of sinlessness...

{quote]Over-emphasizing a high degree of holiness causes those who sit under such teaching, if they believe it, to examine themselves vigorously, over and over, to see if there is the smallest or tiniest degree of anything unholy in them. As extreme holiness is continually emphasized, they continue to examine themselves, and as soon as they find something unholy, they condemn themselves for it and fall into the trap of self-condemnation. They then continue to examine themselves almost endlessly, and their focus gets removed from Christ and His love, grace, and mercy, and their focus gets put on themselves and their works. Their righteousness becomes based on their deeds, works, and performance before God, rather than in the finished work of the Cross through the faith of Christ. Perfection becomes an obsession, and the sight of the Cross is at a loss.


Not necessarily since you can't over emphasize holiness ever, because holiness is constantly the emphasis of heaven, and those who are headed their must emphasize it. Also those who are scared out of their justification by 'over emphasis on holiness' have not witness of the Spirit. Holiness should never scare a true saint of God, only encourage him or her. A Perfected saint would never take his eyes off of Christ, because Jesus becomes his Urim and Thummim (Light and Perfections) and he dare not look to his works for sanctification, that is legalism and a perfect man or woman, free of all sin would never look to himself for a moment.

A trully justified saint would never lose his confidence of the witness of the Spirit until he is completely sanctifeid. Because God does not begin a work He does not finish. They would never lose their confidence from scary what you call an over-emphasis on 'holiness' preaching.

Quote:
The fact is: preaching and overemphasizing an extreme degree of holiness destroys the assurance and faith of the saints. No one is perfectly sinless. Ask any saint, any true born again child of God that has been walking with the Lord for a number of years; ask them if they have sinned even once since their conversion. Ask them if they’ve ever committed a single sin against God since they got born again. If they are not blind and stupid to the laws of God, they will most certainly and ashamedly tell you they have. Does this mean they weren’t born again? Does this mean that as soon as they sinned, God cut them off and declared them children of the devil and bound them fit for destruction in Hell?



Even a person who is a saint sins, then that does not mean living a sinless life is not the desire of God. It is and sin in believers deserves a half excommunication from the Son of God 'Get behind me Satan' to even his choice disciples.

Quote:

IF WE SAY WE HAVE NO SIN, WE DECEIVE OURSELVES

“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8).

The beloved Apostle John, in inscribing these words on the sacred parchment of his first epistle, being a holy man moved upon by the Holy Ghost to record these holy words, has clearly said in the most plainest and straightforward language, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us”. This epistle is addressed to saints, warning against various dangers, extremes, and heresies that were attempting to creep their way into the Church in John’s old age, and as a guideline to the faith of Christ and the nature of true conversion.



If your premise is true that John wrote this including himself when he said 'we' then John was not a holy man filled witht the Holy Ghost. Jesus gives his Spirit to those who obey Him, not to sinning apostles to write scripture...

John God not have been in sin that very moment otherwise he would not have the fellowship close enough to write holy scripture.

John Wesley has great explanation on this verse and so does the greek language. This is not talking about sanctification, but about justification. If one never admits he has sinned as verse 10 states, then one can't properly be cleansed from his sins and ALL unrighteousness.

Verse 9 makes not sense if you continue to confess sin in your life, you can't be cleansed from all unrighteousness.

Justification pardons all sins, but sanctification cleanses all unrighteousness!

So the what John is fighting against the denial of any sin ever! Not we still to this day. Otherwise it would defeat the purpose of the letter, 'I write to you so you do no sin!'

You also do not need sin to be humble. John in his old age was not admitting 'transgression of the law' here to be humble, no he was acknowledging that one who never admits his sin cannot be properly cleansed by the blood of Jesus.

Robertson's Word Pictures points out here that the picture John was developing in this verse is the same one he stated in the gospel he wrote.

Joh 9:40 And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also?
Joh 9:41 Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.

The Pharisees would never admit any of their sins therefore they were blind, but once a person admits his sin, he is forgiven and then God begins to cleanse from ALL unrighteousness.

Quote:
Even the Apostle Paul agreed and admitted to the personal imperfections of his righteousness before God: “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12-14). This was written at about 61 AD, which was after his third missionary journey. If sinless perfection could be obtained, then without a doubt it should have been obtained by the Apostle Paul after enduring so much hardship, living in such devotion, and following hard after God for so many years, being “not a whit behind the chiefest Apostles”. In context of the perfection of which Paul is speaking, he is speaking of “attaining unto the resurrection of the dead” (verse 10) by being found in the righteousness of Christ by faith (verse 9). So, namely, he is talking about righteousness, and admitting that even he didn’t have a perfect righteousness on this earth, looking forward to full and final redemption, which would take place in the final work of redemption at the time of glorification.



Paul is neither admitting sin or denying need. Paul was not in sin here. The greek clearly shows that his talking about two perfections. One of which he had acheived...

Php 3:15 Let us therefore, as many as be [b]perfect[/b], be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.

That word in greek is teleio or morally perfect. Paul was morally perfect and states here and in plenty other verses.

The perfection Paul says he had not attained too is this....

Php 3:12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.

This word here is different and implies a perfection of glorification. It is the same word Jesus used in this verse...

Luk 13:32 And he said unto them, Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to day and to morrow, and the third day I shall be [b]perfected[/b].

Was Jesus sinless. Yes! But he saw a perfection in the glorifcation that had not been attained. The same thing Paul is stating.

Paul was not claiming he had sin in his life, just as much as Jesus was not saying he had sinned in that Luke verse. Both were acknowledging the consummation of salvation the redemption of the body in glorification.

Also....
John could not have been talking about himself presently in 1 John 1:8. For if he was then he was sinning that very moment as he was writting the epistle.

Both greek dictionaries imply presently but verse 10 explains what verse 8 means.

This the gnostics that John fought constantly denied. They denied ever having sinned. This a perfected saint would never deny, but would also acknowledged he has ceased from sin.

Quote:
In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus taught His disciples to pray, “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” This is how the Lord Jesus taught His holy Apostles to pray! Just prior to Him teaching them to pray for forgiveness for their sins, He said, “give us this day our daily bread”, clearly implying that this is a daily prayer that should be prayed. In other words, we need to constantly, in humility, recognize our shortcomings in the sight of God and humble ourselves under His mighty hand to ask for His mercy and grace to cover our offenses before Him. If we say we have no offenses before the all-seeing eyes of His holiness, we only deceive ourselves.



One is able to reminisce on past sins and be just as humbled. Would a saint in sin everyday pray for his constant trangressions of the law of God! No! We are taught to pray that but Jesus never taught us to constantly have indwelling sin like prdie and envy and all those damnable things in us while we pray! We would never be heard.

Quote:
Saints aren’t perfect, but they are striving for perfection, and while they are on the journey toward this perfection, they despise and even abhor themselves for their own imperfections.



Most saints are not perfect, but some are... Otherwise who was Paul speaking to here...

1Co 2:6 Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are [b]perfect[/b]...

or here...

1Pe 5:10 But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.

or here...

Jas 1:4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

or here...

Heb 7:19 For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did(make men perfect); by the which we draw nigh unto God.

and here...

Col 1:28 Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:

That is talking to saints.

Also you said...

Quote:
This own self-abhorrence for inward corruption is not a self-condemnation or self-pity. These things come from the evil one. It is a self-abhorrence that produces “godly sorrow (which) worketh repentance”, and not “the sorrow of the world (which) worketh death” (2 Corinthians 7:10). This godly sorrow is completely different and distinct from depression. It is what Jesus meant by saying, “Blessed are the poor in spirit”, and “Blessed are those that mourn”, speaking of recognizing our own spiritual state before God, our personal guilt, helplessness, and of the utter emptiness of our own nature of everything good, and a conviction and realizing sense of being shut up to the grace of God alone for help. According to Jesus, this is a characteristic of the “blessed”, or in other words, a characteristic of true saints. There is a huge and fundamental difference between such godly sorrow and the sorrow of the world.



Not necessarily for one that is perfect can still mourn and be broken before God even when they have no sin. Their is an abasement for those who are still in sins, but for those who are perfect they are able to echo Job's statement...

Job 9:21 I am blameless; I regard not myself; I loathe my life.

Still not in sin but able to regard not himself ot his life. Jesus did the same!


Quote:
THE REVIVALISTS AND GIANTS OF THE PAST AGREE TO THIS DOCTRINE



You quoted Matthew Henry and Finney, but Matthew Henry was a calvinist and like most % pointers they rejected Entire Sanctity.

Finney although believe a Christian could sin, amde it clear that living a sinless here and on this earth is possible. Half of his systematic theoloy was on this truth.

Whitefield and Wesley fought over Christian Perfection countless amounts of time. Wesley wrote a whole book on living a sinless life, called the Plain Account of Chrisian Perfection.

He did beleive saints could sin, but he also believed in the second work of grace which was Christian Perfection and Second Blessing Holiness or Entire Sanctification. John Weseley describes the perfect saint over and over again throughout his sermons.

Quote:
This is what he taught; a perfection of love and of the heart’s motives toward God and man, not a perfection of being without sin. There is a huge difference, and the understanding of this difference among those who claim to follow Wesley’s teachings can be the difference between sound theology and heresy.



No, Wesley taught a sinless life. Not only in motives in actual heart soul mind and body. Love perfected which he emphasized, was the love that would not sin against God. He did say knowledge and frailties of body could not be perfected, but living a sinless life was the expectation and hope of all who believe it.

John Fletcher who was second too Wesley in the people called the Methodist's understood Wesley to teach that Christians and one point in time cease from sinning. So did many of the other Methdoists. This is a distinct doctrine of the Methodist and all holiness groups, including that are fallen away to this day.

Sinless perfection was a heresy but that heresy is not living a sinless life, it is saying you have no sin when you are still in sin. That is what the gnostics taught a believed.

"In conformity, therefore, both to the doctrine of St. John, and the whole tenor of the New Testament, we fix this conclusion: A Christian is so far perfect, as not to commit sin."

-John Wesley

He goes on to say...

""This is the glorious privilege of every Christian, yea, though he be but a babe in Christ. But it is only of grown Christians it can be affirmed, they are in such a sense perfect..."

Seems clear he bleived that the whole New Testament taught a sinlessness that is not a heresy like 'Sinless perfection.'


Quote:
WHOSOEVER IS BORN OF GOD DOES NOT COMMIT SIN



In this section you are still missing the fact that John wrote the epistle so that they don't sin. So that they may be perfect in love.

And what you said and what John says here can't both be true. We can't constantly admit to sin and say that we are born of God, no. WE can't continue in indwelling sin and still expect to be children of God. It must be rooted out of the heart, and God has made provision for that.

Now blievers do sin, but not perfect believers. If any person sin in thought word or deed they are being sanctified, but if one does not offend in thought word and deed they are perfect.

I could say so much more. But I will see what you think about what I wrote. But I will leave it there, I just wanted to comment a bit on some of things you said. You asked our opinions so therefore I gave it. I think that you did a good job exhorting people to not be condemned by the accusations of the devil and all that. I also think you pointed out some good things about legalism and what not.

But none of those mean you cannot live a sinless life, legalism and condemnation are not legit arguments to tell people they are not live a perfect life. Jesus was not afraid to do it, neither should we. 'Be ye perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect.'

Love you Brother

God bless! See you soon!


_________________
Giancarlo

 2007/6/17 20:18Profile









 Re:The Image of Christ.

I wish I could see you all at that conference.
If Mike has any more boxes of tissues, I could use them here. Unless a miracle happens by October. Stranger things have happened I suppose.


If I could just enter my thoughts on this thread ... the word hamartia comes from hamartanō, meaning basically "to miss the mark".

"The Mark" is The Image of Christ.

We are 'be-ing' transformed into the Image.

I think the key word in God's action in our lives is just this. Be-ing formed or transformed into His Image. As He was the Image of The Father.

Our part, is to walk in the Spirit (Rom 8). That's why Paul spoke to the Galatians as he did, saying, are you so foolish, having begun in the spirit are you now made perfect by the flesh ?

And as John spoke the most of "Love" being the way to perfection, fulfilling all of the law and the Prophets and without which, we will not be saved, despite our good works or efforts to be 'sinless'.

I think, we rob ourselves of what we could be, if we center in on specific sins, rather than setting our goals and sights, as Paul did, in Phil. 3, to KNOW HIM, through 'whatever' circumstances He sends our way. Romans 8:28 is "For" 29.

IF we see that absolutely everything and every single person that comes into each of our days, is sent by GOD to refine us, and to do that Rom.8:28,29 thing to us ... and realize ... not a sparrow falls without it being His will, then we will let Him use our circumstances, those who we see each day, flat tires, smashing toes into doors, screaming neighbors, EVERYTHING through the eyes of the "all things that work for the Good" - which is to conform us into the image of Christ.

To "walk in the Spirit" as seen in the beginning of Romans 8, is just the opposite of trying to fulfill God's law in our flesh.
Walking in the Spirit, is when we die to self, self-dependence, autonomy and self effort and in total dependence on His Spirit within us & He who is the Author and Finisher of our faith -- we learn to wait on Him constantly.

Jesus had all that we have now. He emptied Himself, so to be an example. He depended on the Father to lead, work and speak through Him in everything He did, through The Spirit.

Rather than keep "self", we need to be willing to empty ourselves of ourselves and become thoroughly dependent on Him, to "hear His Voice" (Jn 10) and "follow".

We cut ourselves short of what He's trying to do in us and through us, if we get into thinking the cessation of outward sin is all that we need to do.

To be "perfect", [u]Every[/u] 'thought' must be taken captive to the obedience of Christ.

Every thought.

That's where it all begins. Every single thought.


My favorite verses were posted by Forevidence:

Php 3:9-15 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; IF by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.


Thank you!


edit note. When I clicked on Phil 3:12 on the e-sword, 12 Commentaries lit up, just on that one verse.

 2007/6/17 21:33
pastorfrin
Member



Joined: 2006/1/19
Posts: 1406


 Re:

Yes dear sister,

Philip. 3:10
That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;

Oh, the desire of my heart.

Have a wonderful evening, for me it is late.
8-) There is no sleepy face so this will have to do.

In His Love
pastorfrin

 2007/6/17 22:03Profile
Christisking
Member



Joined: 2005/7/20
Posts: 672
Los Angeles, California

 Re:

Here is a great sermon recently preached by Bible teacher and holiness preacher Zac Poonen on the Book of 1st John. Zac explains much of what Josef is talking about in very clear language and terms. This is a must hear sermon and goes along with this article VERY WELL.

1st John - Zac Poonen
http://www.cfcindia.net/through_bible/67.%201%20John.mp3

Patrick
www.revivalarmy.com


_________________
Patrick Ersig

 2007/6/17 22:52Profile
Yeshuasboy
Member



Joined: 2006/6/10
Posts: 668
Northern Rockies, BC, Canada

 Re:

Awesome post brother..... Great topic. May the Lord Christ Jesus strengthen His children in this time of falling away.

Thanks for the blessisng,
richie


_________________
Richie

 2007/6/17 23:57Profile
Compton
Member



Joined: 2005/2/24
Posts: 2732


 Re:

This is a blessed post and thread.

I am reminded of scriptures like this from Psalm 107: Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven.

Brethren, some preachers would keep us out of any haven, like a weary ship with no port to come home to. This in combination with doomsday predictions might very well make a Christian the most neurotic and depressed fellow on Earth.

In my experience, it is not guilty striving for sinlessness that marks the Christian, but the true inward witness of the forgiveness of sin that relieves the guilty conscience. Sadly, fewer have this most precious inward blessing then do those who profess holiness.

I believe revivals are built on the personal revelation and possession of divine forgiveness. A soul is awakened to a dreadful darkened predicament with a guilty conscience, but nevertheless remains in darkness without the gift of forgiveness through Christ Jesus. What we call holy living is the worshipful expression of this unseen rapture of the heart. Holiness without forgiveness is an awful weight upon the soul...who can lift it?

Blessings,

MC



_________________
Mike Compton

 2007/6/18 8:24Profile
PaulWest
Member



Joined: 2006/6/28
Posts: 3405
Dallas, Texas

 Re: Good Balance

I agree with Mike C. This is a blessed article, very well-written, and even more so...very much needed. Holiness preaching is dangerous in itself, like handling a bottle of nitroglycerin. The preacher [i]must[/i] have the proper balance of grace and truth if he is to keep himself and others safe from legalistic destruction. Unfortunately, not many are able to counter-balance God's holiness with grace. I'm still learning myself, and will probably always be in check on this.

Patrick is right; Zac Poonen has wonderful teachings on 1 John. Here is a good example of a preacher exhibiting God's precious balance. And this article Josef wrote demonstrates maturity and understanding as well. Well done.

Brother Paul


_________________
Paul Frederick West

 2007/6/18 8:35Profile





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