Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Sinless Perfectionism Introduction to a False Doctrine

I had never really noticed just how destructive certain Christians doctrines are. I recently have been involved with discussions with people who are proponents of “sinless perfection”. In the Adventist church this reveals itself in what is called last generation sinless perfection. It is very likely that with this quarters lesson study on The Refiners fire that the sinless perfection concept will be introduced into many Sabbath School Classes. The belief that someday there will be people on earth who no longer are tempted to or desire anything that would be termed sinful. Unfortunately in trying to defend this supposition of last generation perfection these people are destroying the Gospel. It is not simply the legalism which George Knight dealt with in his book I Used to Be Perfect: A Study of Sin and Salvation. In many ways these people take the focus off of the gift of God and place the emphasis upon man’s ability to give his or her will over to God.
Here are a few quotes from some of the sinless perfection proponents, all of whom are SDA:

“2) Perfection is when Man (sinful humans) has with the power of the divine, overcome sin to the state of Adam before the fall.

3) Adam before the fall had freewill and could sin, but when Man (sinful humans) overcomes sin, he no longer has any desire to sin.

4)Man (sinful humans) cannot go to heaven before God with any sin, as God requires holiness and perfection.”


(If we truly love God with all our strength and all our might, all else will fade and the Spirit will transform and put the law in our hearts and minds, and we are no longer under the dominion of sin or desire to sin.)


But he understands that "Christ lives in me" has transformed him as sin cannot hold sway over a person in which "Christ lives in". Then you cannot disregard the work of the Holy Spirit so that the hearts and minds are cleansed of sin. My feeling is that "sinless perfection" is kind of like the belief in the Trinity, we know its there but cannot define the divine in its completeness.


Christ is our creator and gave us an intelligence and free will to choose life or death. We can focus on Him to the point that we allow Him to run our lives and sanctify our characters ( which eventually will lead to sinless perfection ). However, that will never go to the extent that allows us to sin with impunity without confession or repentence.


I think we have to go with what the Bible says about the sanctified life in that when we abide in Christ we get to take part in the divine nature of Christ which should be the essence of what Christianity is all about anyway. So to me what sinless perfection offers to any Christian this side of the second coming is a sanctified life that gets to take part in the divine nature. Not that we can accomplish this on our own but it is the ultimate goal of Christian living and the miraculous change that can occur if we allow it too.


The thief on the cross will be able to enter into heaven because God knows man's heart. Had he (the thief) been given a chance, he would have cooperated with God and completed his walk to persevere and to overcome all sins.


If you are 'walking with God now' like Enoch, how can you still sin and be with Him. That cannot be, nowhere in the scripture does it say you can hold onto to sin and be together with God.


As I said in another thread, the bible tells us that we can be 'partakers of the DIVINE nature"! It's a PROMISE from the Father. So is God not good to His word? Are His promises not reliable for us here and now? Are we so blinded by self that we cannot see how sin wounds the Father and Jesus. He saves us FROM our sins, not IN our sins.


You cannot follow evil and hold onto and be under the dominion of sin and hold on and have a intimate relationship with Christ with his righteousness at the same time. No man can have two masters, he has to let go of one and grab the other, so when you decide to grab on to Christ and accept his righteousness, and be sanctified in/by Christ, you have to choose.


I have italicized the last statement because it is the crux of the problem. It is a true statement but it has nothing to do with sinless perfection. But if sinless perfection is introduced into this then people are forced to say that they do sin therefore they must not be serving God in their lives and they must be serving Satan. As one of the quotes above says how can you still sin and be with God.

The sinless perfection people have assumed that because Christians look at the reality of their lives that even though we love God and seek to follow Him we still sin, our attitude is in the main that we desire the things that God wants for us but the reality is that we are weak and fail constantly. It is very much like Paul said:

(Rom 7:22-24 NIV) For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?

Christians do not become sinlessly perfect because they accept and follow God. We have ample evidence of powerful Christians who none the less still sinned, still lacked love for others at times. Martin Luther is a prime example but think of all the Christians you know there is very likely not a single one that you would say is sinless. Yet we have those in our midst telling us that if one does not accept the idea of sinless perfection then they are denying the power of God and that they are merely seeking to continue sinning. How can one be denying the power of God when God very clearly does not produce sinless perfection in His followers. We look around and don’t see it and when we look at ourselves we don’t see it. Do we deny sinless perfection because we want to keep sinning? Possibly because if we are honest with ourselves we realize that we still sin both in thought and action. If sinless perfection was the reality and yet we could not see it ever then we would have to say Christianity is false

What is funny is that according to many theologians the closer one gets to God the more of a sinner they appear to be themselves. So no one will ever come to the point that they see themselves as sinlessly perfect. Compared to God their best works are filthy rags and like Paul we have to admit that we are the worst of sinners. So the whole concept of sinless perfection this side of heaven serves nobody. If it was true none of us would ever recognize it as occurring and if it is not true then it acts as a wedge which makes the Christian feel inadequate in his or her relationship with God. It serves only the purpose of defeating the victorious life of those who accept the love and promises of God. As my favorite Bible verse says:

(1 John 3:2-3 NIV) Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.


Dick Larsen said...

"Sinless Perfection" sounds a lot like the promise of the serpent in the Garden, "You will be like God".

Anonymous said...

The view of sinless perfection is based on M.L. Andreason's Last Generation Theology, rests on several core premises--

1. sin is only by choice and not an element of our nature (thus denying Original Sin)

2. The Great Controversy is about whether man keep the law of God

3. Jesus lived as our example, and because in a post-Adam state of nature he overcame sin, than this proves that man can too.

The sinless perfection view of LGT essentially negates the necessity of Jesus' sacrifice on our behalf. It is the essence of a works-based view of salvation.