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Nobody's Perfect

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  • Nobody's Perfect

    by John MacArthur

    Nobody's perfect. That truth, which ought to make us tremble before a God who is holy, holy, holy, is usually invoked to excuse sinful behavior. How often do we hear people brush aside their own wrongdoing with the casual words, “Well, after all, nobody's perfect”? There is accuracy in the statement, but it should be a timid confession, not a flippant means of justifying sin.

    Lingering Imperfection

    Despite God’s transforming work in salvation, and the new nature we enjoy as His children in Christ, we still fall short of His righteous standard. Scripture recognizes our lingering imperfection. Even the apostle Paul wrote,

    Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12‑14, emphasis added)

    We all fall short of perfection. Paul teaches us that our own imperfection should only spur us on toward the goal of complete Christlikeness. When we begin to use our human frailty as an excuse from guilt, we are walking on dangerous ground. We must continue to press on toward the goal: “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). “You shall be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16). It is folly to think that being imperfect somehow provides us with a legitimate excuse to exempt us from God’s perfect standard.

    Futile Striving and Spiritual Distractions

    Ironic as it may seem, however, it is equally dangerous—and possibly more so—to think spiritual perfection is something attainable by Christians in this lifetime. Church history is littered with examples of sects and factions who taught various versions of Christian perfectionism. These groups have either made utter shipwreck of the faith or been forced to modify their perfectionism to accommodate human imperfection.

    Every perfectionist inevitably comes face‑to‑face with clear and abundant empirical evidence that the residue of sin remains in the flesh and troubles even the most spiritual Christians throughout their earthly lives. In order to hang onto perfectionist doctrine, they must redefine sin or diminish the standard of holiness. Too often they do this at the expense of their own consciences.

    The Bible clearly teaches that Christians can never attain sinless perfection in this life. “Who can say, ‘I have cleansed my heart, I am pure from my sin’?” (Proverbs 20:9). “For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well” (James 3:2). “For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please” (Galatians 5:17). “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8).

    All perfectionism is essentially a disastrous misunderstanding of how God works in sanctification. Sanctification is a process by which God—working in believers through the Holy Spirit—gradually moves them toward Christlikeness (2 Corinthians 3:18). That the transformation is gradual—not instantaneous, and never complete in this lifetime—is confirmed by many passages of Scripture.

    As we noted earlier, Paul wrote near the end of his ministry that he was not yet perfect (Philippians 3:12). He told the Romans, “Be [constantly being] transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). And to the Galatians he wrote that he labored with them “until Christ is formed in you” (Galatians 4:19). Sanctification will not end “until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13). He urged them to stop being children, susceptible to error and trends. How were they to do that? By seeking a sudden experience? No, he wrote, “Grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ” (Ephesians 4:14‑15, emphasis added).

    Likewise Peter instructed believers to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). He wrote, “Like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation” (1 Peter 2:2).

    How Does Sanctification Work?

    Sanctification is not doctrine for advanced Christians only. Nothing in the Christian life is more practical than a right understanding of how the Holy Spirit works to conform us to Christ’s image. Conversely, it is hard to imagine anything that undermines spiritually healthy Christian living more disastrously than a misunderstanding of sanctification.

    The word sanctify in Scripture comes from Hebrew and Greek words that mean “set apart.” To be sanctified is to be set apart from sin. At conversion, all believers are disengaged from sin’s bondage, released from sin’s captivity—set apart unto God, or sanctified. Yet the process of separation from sin is only begun at that moment. As we grow in Christ, we become more separated from sin and more consecrated to God. Thus the sanctification that occurs at conversion only initiates a lifelong process whereby we are set apart more and more from sin and brought more and more into conformity with Christ—separated from sin, and separated unto God.

    Maturing Christians should never become self‑justifying, smug, or satisfied with our progress, because the more we become like Christ, the more sensitive we are to the remaining corruptions of the flesh. As we mature in godliness our sins become more painful and more obvious to ourselves. The more we put away sin, the more we notice sinful tendencies that still need to be put away. This is the paradox of sanctification: The holier we become, the more frustrated we are by the stubborn remnants of our sin. The apostle Paul vividly described his own anguish over this reality in Romans 7:21‑24:

    I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wishes to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?

    The Wrong Response

    Not all believers respond to the growing realization of their sinfulness in a biblical way. Though some are driven to despair over their inability to discipline and will themselves to holiness, there is a growing tendency to depreciate the seriousness of sin. They embrace their imperfections and are cavalier about their sin.

  • #2
    It is true that nobody's perfect, and some may be cavalier about their sin, but we must be careful to remember what Paul says about striving for the mark, like running a race. Strive for perfection. We don't achieve it in this lifetime, but are to keep our eyes on the goal of being perfect; i.e., "be ye holy". It is what we are to strive for, not what we will achieve in this life. The true holiness comes not from ourselves, but from the Spirit of God, who indwells all believers. He prays on our behalf when we pray, for we pray not as we ought.
    Comment>

    • #3
      "...the more we become like Christ, the more sensitive we are to the remaining corruptions of the flesh."
      How true this is! I find that the more I mature in Christ, the greater the "little" sins become, and the more we are truly indebted to The Holy Spirit. Romans 8:12 This is to keep us humble. All glory belongs to Christ!
      Comment>

      • #4
        The "keener" we are to our sin, is greater knowledge, and we know that knowledge "puffs up" as Paul reminds us in 1Cor. 8:1. So than a spirit of humility is required since that knowledge did not come from you, for all knowledge finds its source in God. I cannot claim anything, but to "boast in the Lord."
        Comment>

        • #5
          To illustrate: When we receive greater knowledge, I desire to now share that knowledge with somebody, because I believe it will be very beneficial to them as it is for me. But before we go through that "door" we need to know that at least two things will be waiting on the other side for us. 1) Pride, and 2) Humility. Which of these two will we "put on" before we relay the beneficial knowledge to someone? Since knowledge "puffs up" let us make sure to always put humility before we speak!

          Soli Deo Gloria
          Comment>

          • #6
            My witness is that God called us to be perfect, and he gave us the means to be perfect.

            (Romans 8: 4) “He did this in order that the law’s just demands might be satisfied in us, who behave not as our unspiritual nature but as the Spirit dictates.”


            (Galatians 5:16“Let me put it like this if you are guided by the Spirit you will be in no danger of yielding to self-indulgence....”.

            After Jesus proclaimed me clean, and that was after going to confession to a Roman Catholic priest, God has kept me clean for forty years.

            John tells us that if one sin he or she has never seen God nor knows God.

            I have seen Jesus, he has called me out by my name, and Jesus has taught me to know him.

            (John 14:21) “Anybody who receives my commandments and keeps them will be one who loves me; and anybody who loves me will be loved by My Father, and I shall love him and show myself to him.”
            (John 14: 23) “Anyone who loves me will keep my word and my Father will love him, and we shall come to him and make a home in him.”

            (1 John 3:5-6) “Now you know that he appeared in order to abolish sin, and that in him there is no sin; anyone who lives in God does not sin, and anyone who sins has never seen him or known him.”


            (1 John 3:9-10) “No one who is a child of God sins because God's seed remains in him. Nor can he sin, because he is a child of God. This is what distinguishes the children of God from the children of the devil: whoever does not live uprightly and does not love his brother is not from God.”

            I am a Child of God’s, and as John said there is no way that it is possible for me to sin.





            Comment>

            • #7
              Originally posted by JohnLove View Post
              After Jesus proclaimed me clean, and that was after going to confession to a Roman Catholic priest, God has kept me clean for forty years.
              Question John, please clarify, are you suggesting that you have not confessed and repented for any sin in the last 40 years?

              God bless,
              William
              Comment>

              • #8
                Originally posted by William View Post

                Question John, please clarify, are you suggesting that you have not confessed and repented for any sin in the last 40 years?

                God bless,
                William
                William, that I have not deliberately committed a sin in forty years, is my witness.
                Also the Holy Spirit has healed me of committing any sin for many years.

                Jesus/Holy Spirit tells me, guides me in everything that is done by me.

                You may have a hard time believing me, but ask yourself, if you know what it means to have the mind of Christ.

                (1 Corinthians 2:15-16) “A spiritual man, on the other hand, is able to judge the value of everything and his own value in not to be judged by other men. As scripture says;’ who can know the mind of the Lord, so who can teach him?’ But we are those who have the mind of Christ.”
                Comment>

                • #9
                  Originally posted by JohnLove View Post

                  William, that I have not deliberately committed a sin in forty years, is my witness.
                  Also the Holy Spirit has healed me of committing any sin for many years.

                  Jesus/Holy Spirit tells me, guides me in everything that is done by me.

                  You may have a hard time believing me, but ask yourself, if you know what it means to have the mind of Christ.

                  (1 Corinthians 2:15-16) “A spiritual man, on the other hand, is able to judge the value of everything and his own value in not to be judged by other men. As scripture says;’ who can know the mind of the Lord, so who can teach him?’ But we are those who have the mind of Christ.”
                  All I did was ask whether you have confessed and repented for a sin in forty years John, deliberate or not. It is interesting how some view themselves, some as saints that sin at times, and others as sinners that do right at times. It is very rare to come across someone that has such a view of themselves.

                  God bless,
                  William
                  Comment>

                  • #10
                    Originally posted by William View Post
                    The Bible clearly teaches that Christians can never attain sinless perfection in this life. “Who can say, ‘I have cleansed my heart, I am pure from my sin’?” (Proverbs 20:9). “For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well” (James 3:2). “For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please” (Galatians 5:17). “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8).

                    All perfectionism is essentially a disastrous misunderstanding of how God works in sanctification. Sanctification is a process by which God—working in believers through the Holy Spirit—gradually moves them toward Christlikeness (2 Corinthians 3:18). That the transformation is gradual—not instantaneous, and never complete in this lifetime—is confirmed by many passages of Scripture.
                    If we cannot attain sinless perfection is this life - when can we attain sinless perfection?
                    Comment>

                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Bede View Post

                      If we cannot attain sinless perfection is this life - when can we attain sinless perfection?

                      In Sanctification we are saved and being saved from the power of sin. Sanctification is past (‘positional’ at salvation) and present continuous (‘progressive’) by the indwelling Holy Spirit from within: ‘And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto His heavenly kingdom...’ (2 Tim.4:18). The word here ‘preserve’ is the Greek ‘sozo’- the same word for ‘save’.

                      Sanctification continues until Glorification: ‘Being confident of this very thing, that He which has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ’ (Phil.1:6); ‘And every man that has this hope in him purifies himself, even as He is pure’ (1 Jn.3:3); ‘And have put on the new man, which is renewed [continuous] in knowledge after the image of Him that created him’ (Col.3:10); ‘...work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which works in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure’ (Phil. 2:12,13). The Greek tense and voice of ‘work out’ is present imperative showing this is continuous as well as a command for all Christians.

                      I'd also like to acknowledge the semi-pelagian view of salvation made through expressions such as "heal" and "assist" in a messy context that seems contradictory.

                      Originally posted by JohnLove
                      Also the Holy Spirit has healed me of committing any sin for many years.
                      Quite revealing, the semi-pelagian (synergism) view of man's sinful nature and the disposition of the unregenerate natural man.

                      And addressing the Pelagian/Semi-Pelagian view that man is either perfectly capable and only in need of guidance from a teacher, or the semi-pelagian view which sick and/or wounded men only need divine assistance or a doctor.

                      Originally posted by peppermint View Post
                      [FONT=trebuchet ms, helvetica, sans-serif][SIZE=16px]The grace of God is that supernatural assistance which He imparts to us, through the merits of Jesus Christ, for our salvation. It is called supernatural, because no one by his own natural ability can acquire it.[/SIZE][/FONT]
                      Catholicism has strayed from Augustinian soteriology.

                      God bless,
                      William
                      Comment>

                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Bede View Post

                        If we cannot attain sinless perfection is this life - when can we attain sinless perfection?
                        A view of themselves?

                        I would never judge myself. I ask Jesus if there is anything that has been done by me that is sinful.

                        Again will you answer what you’re understanding of having the mind of Christ means?

                        Another thing what is your understanding of the following verse.
                        (1 John 2: 27) “But you have not lost the anointing that he gave you, and you do not need anyone to teach you; the anointing he gave teaches you everything: you are anointed with truth, not with a lie, and as it has taught you, so you must stay in him.”

                        I am sorry this post was an answer to a post of William’s

                        Comment>

                        • #13
                          Originally posted by JohnLove View Post
                          I am sorry this post was an answer to a post of William’s
                          No need to apologize John. We tend to answer and share our input whether or not something was addressed to ourselves in an open forum. I hope that you feel comfortable in these discussions. If for any reason you feel singled out, targeted, or pursued throughout the forum by any member or group, please bring this to Staff/Moderation attention.

                          God bless,
                          William
                          Comment>

                          • #14
                            Originally posted by William View Post

                            No need to apologize John. We tend to answer and share our input whether or not something was addressed to ourselves in an open forum. I hope that you feel comfortable in these discussions. If for any reason you feel singled out, targeted, or pursued throughout the forum by any member or group, please bring this to Staff/Moderation attention.

                            God bless,
                            William

                            It would be a comfort to me if you would answer my questions.

                            Also please answer my question using the written Word of God if you can.

                            Other people’s understanding of God’s Word does not answer any of my questions.



                            Comment>

                            • #15
                              Originally posted by JohnLove View Post


                              It would be a comfort to me if you would answer my questions.

                              Also please answer my question using the written Word of God if you can.

                              Other people’s understanding of God’s Word does not answer any of my questions.
                              Originally posted by JohnLove View Post
                              Again will you answer what you’re understanding of having the mind of Christ means?
                              JohnLove,

                              In a way, you answered your own question. An understanding of the Word of God expresses the mind of Christ.

                              How do I understand the mind of Christ?

                              Luke 2:52 - And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature[a] and in favor with God and man.

                              The mind of Christ pursues wisdom and is the pursuit of the knowledge of God. The conformity of our minds to Christ is ongoing and not instant. And like Christ's humiliation, that He as a babe grew, we are to grow in favor with God and man in proportion to our capacity. Psalm 1:2; 77:11-12; 119:27, 48.

                              God bless,
                              William
                              Comment>
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