VIII.21. Is There Such a Thing As Sinless Perfection?

Question:  A friend of mine told me that she has progressed in her Christian life so much, that she does not sin anymore. Is this Biblically correct, or not?

Answer:  The only sinless perfection the Christian has is what they receive upon trusting Jesus Christ as their Savior. At salvation, Christ give the believer His righteousness as stated in 2 Corinthians 5:21,

“For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin: that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”

Also in Philippians 3:9 we are told,

“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.”

Positionally, or eternally speaking, the believer has the righteousness of God given to him. Practically, the believer is indwelt and sealed with the Holy Spirit at salvation (Ephesians 1:13); but, still has the old Adamic nature to contend with. Galatians 5:17 makes this perfectly clear,

“For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other; so that ye cannot (Greek reads “should not”) do the things that ye would (i.e., by the old nature).”

1 John 1:8 contradicts your friend’s claim of arriving at her perfect state, or “sinless perfection.”

“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”

Her intentions may be well; but, she has deceived herself by her own self righteousness.

As we look to the Word of God, we find that the word “perfect” in the King James Translation has led some Bible students to conclude that believers can live without committing any sin whatsoever. Some go as far as to claim they have eradicated the old nature; therefore, it is impossible for them to sin! Let us briefly examine the word “perfect.” The Greek word for “perfect” is “teleios.” The verb form is “teleioo.” These Greek words intend something quite different from “sinless perfection.” As we shall see, these Greek words emphasize “maturity”; or, “that which is full grown.” In writing to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul stated in 1 Corinthians 14:20,

“Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.”

The Greek word for “men” is “teleios.” Therefore, it is evident that this verse is contrasting the difference between children and adults, the immature and the mature. In 2 Peter 3:18 the Christian is expected to...

"…grow (i.e., into adult maturity) in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…”

Now, notice in Hebrews 5:14 where we have a form of the same Greek word.

“But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”

Here the Greek word is translated “of full age,” which emphasizes maturity. Therefore, the Christian who is able to exercise their senses in discerning the difference between good and evil is a spiritually mature Christian.

In James 1:3,4, the English word “perfect” is used twice in Verse 4.

“Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. (3) “But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing (4).”

Both of the words translated “perfect” in Verse 4 are forms of the Greek “teleios.” James is emphasizing to the Christians what the end product of patience produces. In other words, the testing of our faith works patience, which will result in a spiritually mature, well-rounded Christian.

Only when this sinful body dies and we have been freed to join our wonderful Savior in Heaven (2 Corinthians 5:1-4), will we experience sinless perfection. But, concerning our life down here, 1 John 1:8,10 state so clearly; that to be a spiritually mature Christian, I must evaluate myself in the light of the Word of God, so as not to be deceived.

"If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. (8) If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us (10).”

The Christian is to be “perfect’ in the sense of behaving as a spiritually mature adult in their talk and walk. Romans 12:1,2 is God’s will for His children.

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. (1) And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

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