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Is PERFECTION Attainable In This Life? Yes and No – Jesse Morell

Biblical Truth Resources

I got an email from a fellow street preacher who needed some legal help because he had been arrested. After connecting him with a Christian attorney, we began to dialog more through email. He asked a theological question relating to the doctrine of Christian perfection. He wrote to me and said:

I`d like to say that before I began preaching the way that I do today, which was a few years ago, I had a lot of influence from your bold videos. I didn`t really see such boldness until I saw your vids. So thanks for being faithful, lots of seeds you`ve planted and even watered…

(Quick off topic)

I did though, to be honest, back when I was watching a lot of your vids, wasn`t so sure about the `Perfect` Christian to the context that you say. I know the context according to what Paul is saying, and how…

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Be ye therefore PERFECT, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect Matt.5:48

Be ye therefore PERFECT, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect (Matt. 5:48)

The Greek definition of  ”perfect” is teleios.

Definition: perfect, (a) complete in all its parts, (b) full grown, of full age, (c) specially of the completeness of Christian character.

We are told to be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect and that means we CAN since we can trust the word of Jesus. It doesn’t say that God can be perfect for us, or that we should only STRIVE to be perfect but we are told to BE perfect. So to start off  it’s clear that we CAN become perfect but the question is what that means? Evidently it could not mean to have lived a completely sinless life, because Jesus told people who have sinned to be perfect, and they of course couldn’t be required to change their past in order to obey Jesus. The best way to find the meaning of to ”be prefect” is to find similar examples of the same word in Greek – see below. When we are cleansed from our sins in the blood of Jesus we are indeed perfect and complete. God looks at us as though we have never sinned and we ARE free of sins thanks to being forgiven. But this does not mean that we are still fine even if we would continue to get filthy, because that will only get us dirty once more and again in need of cleansing. If we live in sin, we are neither perfect or complete. So a christian who sins is not perfect, but a christian who is cleansed and walk in the light is perfect. God doesn’t ask for anything impossible from us. Can we be as merciful as our Father is merciful?  Jesus says we can, and Zacharias and Elisabeth are examples of this:

Luke 6:35But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.36Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.

Luke 1:There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth.And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.

If you don’t believe we can be either perfect or merciful as our Father, what other verses don’t you trust in the Bible?  Can we argue that the the following commands are impossible to obey?

Luke 17:4 And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.

Matt. 28:19Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost

The OT shows that people can be perfect as well (read my post about numerous righteous people who lived in the OT):

1 Ki 11:4 For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not PERFECT with the LORD his God, AS WAS THE HEART OF DAVID his father. 

Examples of verses where ”teleios” is used:

1 John 4:18There is no fear in love; but PERFECT love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made PERFECT in love.

1 Corinthians 14:20Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.

Philippians 3: 15Let 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. 16Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.

Colossians 4:12Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand PERFECT and complete in all the will of God.

James 1:4 Let endurance have its PERFECT work, that you may be PERFECT and complete, lacking in nothing.

1 Corinthians 2:6Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are PERFECT: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought

Romans 12:2 Don’t be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what is the good, well-pleasing, and PERFECT will of God.

1 Corinthians 13:10But when that which is PERFECT is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

Ephesians 4:13Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a PERFECT man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

Colossians 1:28 whom we proclaim, admonishing every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man PERFECT in Christ Jesus;

James 1:17Every good gift and every PERFECT gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

James 1:25But whoso looketh into the PERFECT law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

Matthew 19:21 Jesus said to him, ”If you want to be PERFECT, go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”

James 3:2 For in many things we all stumble. If anyone doesn’t stumble in word, the same is a PERFECT man, able to bridle the whole body also.

Hebrews 9:11 But Christ having come as a high priest of the coming good things, through the greater and more PERFECT tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation,

Hebrews 5:14But 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.

Examples of people who were perfect in the Old Testament

Gen. 6:These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.

1 Kings. 15:14 But the high places were not removed: nevertheless Asa’s heart was perfect with the Lord all his days.

Job 1:And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?

2 Kings 23:25 And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the Lord with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him.

Hebrews 11:5 By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.

15 verses about law and grace you didn’t know were in the Bible

15 verses about law and grace you didn’t know were in the Bible

1) Romans 3:25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission OF SINS THAT ARE PAST, through the forbearance of God;

2) James 2:24 Ye see then how that BY WORKS A MAN IS JUSTIFIED, and NOT by faith only.

3) Phil 2:12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, WORK OUT YOUR OWN SALVATION WITH FEAR AND TREMBLING

4) Rom 2:13 For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but THE DOERS OF THE LAW SHALL BE JUSTIFIED

5) 1 John 3:6. WHOSOEVER ABIDETH IN HIM SINNETH NOT: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.

6) Matt 5:19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, AND SHALL TEACH MEN SO, he shall be called THE LEAST in the kingdom of heaven: butwhosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called GREAT in the kingdom of heaven.

7) Titus 2:12 (God’s grace) TEACHING US that, DENYING UNGODLINESS and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, IN THIS PRESENT WORLD;

 8) Acts 5:32 And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also THE HOLY GHOST, WHOM GOD HATH GIVEN TO THEM THAT OBEY HIM

9) James 4:6 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but GIVETH GRACE TO THE HUMBLE (a condition)

10) John 15:10. IF YE KEEP MY COMMANDMENTS, YE SHALL ABIDE IN MY LOVE; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.

11) 1 Cor 7:19 Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, BUT THE KEEPING OF THE COMMANDMENTS OF GOD

12) Rom. 3:31 Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, WE ESTABLISH THE LAW

13) James 2:21 Was not Abraham our father JUSTIFIED BY WORKS, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?

14) Hebr. 10:29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath TRODDEN UNDER FOOT THE SON OF GOD, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, WHEREWITH HE WAS SANCTIFIED, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?

15) Rom 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus,  WHO WALK NOT AFTER THE FLESH , BUT AFTER THE SPIRIT

15 verses/claims you thought were in the Bible

1) All men are born with a sinful nature since we have inherited Adam’s sin

2) Once saved always saved

3) God loves us unconditionally

4) Jesus righteousness has been transferred to us, so the Father can’t see our sins but only the blood of Jesus

5) When we repent our past, present and future sins are forgiven

6) Do not judge! – any one at any time!

7) FAITH ALONE is what saves us, and works have nothing to do with our salvation

8) We are no longer under the Law, so obeying the ten commandments is no longer necessary even if they are good to obey so we don’t get reduced gifts in heaven

9) We all sin constantly in thoughts, words and deeds

10) The grace of God is free, unmerited and can’t be forfeited

11) If you could stop sinning you wouldn’t need Jesus

12) The problem with the pharisees was that they focused too much on the Law and obeyed it too much

13) Jesus paid for our sins, took our sins on himself and became sinful on the cross, hence the wrath of the God the Father was upon him

14) He sinned quite severely? Then ”he wasn’t saved to begin with”

15) Christians are taken out of the world before the great tribulation   

Being carnally minded is DEATH but we can attain moral perfection NOW

Romans 7 is often used as support for that we can have our sins and our salvation too, but we must consider ALL of Romans 7 and particularly Romans 6 and 8.  Paul ends chapter 7 by telling us about the SOLUTION to his problem:

Rom. 7:224O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? 25I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

He also says:

Rom. 6:18Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.19I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.20For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. 21What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is DEATH. 22But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life

Rom. 8:1There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who WALK not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.2For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

1 Cor. 3:3 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? 4 For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?

We can all see a distinction between these two claims coming from the same man – PAUL:

Rom. 7:14 but I am carnal, sold under sin.

Rom. 8:For to be carnally minded is death; (but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.)

Clearly Paul couldn’t be both carnal and NOT carnal at the same time. If we are sold under sin we are NOT spiritually alive but spiritually dead. Paul said that as a converted man he lived with a good  conscience void of offense

Acts 23:1And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.

Acts 24: 16And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void to offence toward God, and toward men.

2 Tim. 1:3I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day;

The description in Romans 7 is not of the converted life of  Paul, but a narration describing what happens when an unconverted sinner’s mind encounters the law of God and is convicted by it.

What does Paul mean with ”perfection?

Php. 3:12Not 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.

Paul was talking about being free from physical corruption and attaining physical perfection, so not the same as MORAL perfection.The verses right before make it clear that he is talking about the resurrection and our new glorified bodies which will not be corrupted:

Php. 3: 10That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; 11If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.

Paul was certainly not saying that moral perfection is unattainable in this life since he continues to say that many have already attained perfection:

Phil. 3:14I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. 15Let 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. 16Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing. 17Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.). 

Read also:

Rom. 8:12Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh13For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. 14For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. 15For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

1 Cor. 9:27But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

Not even Jesus was ”perfected” until he was resurrected:

Luke 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 perfected.

A SINLESS PERFECTIONIST because you say you can obey Jesus?

Ever been accused for believing in SINLESS PERFECTIONISM when you say you can obey Jesus?

When we say that it is possible to live a life free of sin, as Jesus commands, the cry is that we are teaching“sinless perfectionism.” What is ironic is that these people who cry this false charge do not discern that they are teaching the very thing they condemn!

They make the false assumption that when a soul is converted, he will NEVER, ever sin again. After convincing you of this false assumption, they then try to disprove the claim, which we never made in the first place!  Then they will quote such passages as Heb. 12:6. They like the “chastise” passage, for this is their ‘proof’ that if a child of God never sins after being born again, then they can’t be chastised.  They like to talk about sin, being saved in sin, stay in sin, and defend sin.  They hope that you, the reader, will fall for their assumptions, and then try to convince you that you can’t be anything but a low down sinner for the rest of your life.

Now, let’s see who is really teaching ‘sinless perfectionism’.  By pronouncing condemnation on us (claiming what we do not teach), they reprobate themselves.  According to them:

  1. When you ‘accept’ Jesus, you are justified (forgiven).
  2. There was a magnificent transfer that took place, meaning Christ becomes your perfection because his ‘obedience’ was ‘transferred’ to you by faith.
  3. Because of number 2, your past, present AND ‘future’ sins are all covered once and for all.
  4. Because Jesus’ tract record is imputed to you, God is now blind to your conduct because of the blood of Christ.  God can no longer see you who sins.
  5. All this is ‘positional,’ NEVER  ’practical.’

It is interesting that Christ’s righteousness (“obedience imputed to you,” which the Bible does NOT teach) was magically transferred to you once you trusted in Him.  You are now considered ‘sinless’ because all your past, present, and FUTURE sins are all forgiven. This means that your sins, even future ones you have not yet committed, can NEVER be charged against you no matter what your conduct afterwards.

PROBLEM 1: If this were true, THERE IS NO NEED FOR CHASTISEMENT!  How can you be chastised over sins that the blood was supposed to have covered and God became morally blind to your conduct and future conduct when you accepted His Son?  If all your FUTURE sins are already forgiven, what purpose would there be in any type of correction since God does not see you anymore, just His Son Jesus?  Remember?  God can’t see you sinning, He only sees Jesus!  How can they accuse us of teaching ‘sinless perfectionism” since Christ is their PROXY? Does their teaching not EQUATE TO SINLESS PERFECTION?  Isn’t this calling the kettle black?

These people teach that you sin every day in thought, word, and deed! They even go so far to say that temptation is sin to make sure you get it – that you were saved from nothing. What they are really telling you is that sinning is proof that you are saved and in the faith! How ludicrous! This kind of Gospel is nothing but a hoax coming from frauds and liars.

Let’s clear some things up.  Those who believe we can live holy lives, as God commands, have never said:

1.  That a Christian never sinned in his life time (“For all have sinned”:)
2.  That a Christian doesn’t have the ability to sin after he is saved.
3.  And that once a person is converted that he will be forced not to sin.

What is taught is that a person cannot have salvation without repentance (forsaking all sins).  2 Cor. 7:10-11.

Scripture also says,

“No one who abides in him [Jesus] keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.”  1 John 3:6

We are also told how we can know who is a child of God and who is a child of the devil.

“In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.” 1 John 3:10

A ‘saint’ is characterized by walking a life of holiness.  A ‘child of the devil’ is characterized by walking a life of sin.

IF a child of God should give into temptation and act upon it (sin), God’s word tells us we have an Advocate with the Father (1 John 2:1).  Notice it says IF.  Sinning is not a foregone conclusion in John’s mind, nor was it in Jesus’ mind as well. (“Go and sin no more”).  Paul says, “Awake to righteousness and sin not.”  

PROBLEM 2:  NOWHERE is Jesus said to be our PROXY.  Where it concerns righteousness, we are told NOT TO BE DECEIVED in this matter.

“Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he [Jesus] is righteous.” 1 John 3:7

So much for the fake proxy.  One is considered righteous WHEN he does what is right, and when he does, he is considered righteous as Jesus is righteous.  There was no magical transfer that took place.

The false gospel preached today is missing the element of REPENTANCE. Jesus told the disciples to preach REPENTANCE.  Some would go so far to say that repentance is not part of the gospel!  Jesus said,

“And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among ALL nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” Luke 24:47

Repentance is commanded by God to ALL men everywhere. (Acts 5:31; 11:18; 17:30-31; 20:21; 26:20; Ro. 2:4; 2 Ti. 2:25; 2 Pet. 3:9). (Repentance is NOT an apology for being sinful, nor being born with a ‘sinful nature,’ as they falsely teach!)  What is repentance? Repentance is to sweep, scrape, scrub and cast out of doors all defilement of the heart IN ORDER to make it clean for the reception of the holy Spirit. (Matt. 12:43-45; Lk. 11:24-26; Acts 5:32).  The holy Spirit is only given to those whoobey Him (Acts 5:32), not to those who continue in sin and hope God cleans them up later (as some suggest), which later never seems to come about until the day of physical death!  Repentance can take a process of time (a season of “godly sorrow” until there is full repentance) or instantaneously.  Repentance is not sorrow alone, it also involves a change of mind, inclinations and desires, which translates into a total change in character and conduct. (Mt. 3:8; Mk. 4:12; Lk. 8:15; Jn. 8:34; 8:36; Lk. 19:1-10; Acts 26:20; 2 Co. 6:1; 5:17; 1 Thess. 1:9; 2 Tim. 2:19; Titus. 2:11-12).

Repentance that is genuine is initiated by God through a crisis of conviction leading to a season of godly sorrow for sin. (Jn. 16:8; Acts 2:37; 4:8-10; 5:31; 11:18; 2 Co. 7:10). Biblical repentance from Genesis to Revelation is to “forsake” our wickedness, “purge” our heart of evil and SEEK the mercy of God. (Isa. 55:7; Jer. 26:13; Pro. 28:13; Jon. 3:8-10; Matt. 12:41; Lk. 15:11-32; Acts 3:19; 2 Co. 7:10-11; 2 Tim. 2:19; Jas. 3:7-10; 1 Pe. 4:1; Rev. 2:5; 2:16; 2:20-22; 3:3; 3:19)!

To dismiss repentance as not part of the gospel is very serious, for it nullifies reconciliation with God, and thus no conversion and no forgiveness. (Lk. 13:3; 24:47; Mk. 4:12; Acts 3:19; 2 Co. 7:10).

True repentance is a condition for salvation. (Mk. 1:15; Lk. 13:3; Acts 5:31; 11:18; 17:30; 20:21; Ro. 2:4; 2 Co. 7:10; 2 Pe. 3:9).

(Thanks to Sandra)