True Christian living requires us to live according to Kingdom standards which bring Heaven to earth
By: Frank L. Hoffman
Jesus said, "Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5:48)
Chapter 19C - If They Live Without Sin...
(Wesley's writings are in Bold)
As we continue with the Nineteenth Part of A Plain Account of Christian Perfection, we are faced with a question of the type that we receive from people who are being sarcastic. They know the truth, but they don't want to admit it, so they attempt to distort the original message with a question that takes the message out of context. On numerous occasions, John Wesley has plainly stated that upon this earth, no one can expect to be absolutely perfect. Yet the following question presumes just the opposite:
"Question. But still, if they live without sin, does not this exclude the necessity of a Mediator? At least, is it not plain that they stand no longer in need of Christ in his priestly office?
"Answer. Far from it. None feel their need of Christ like these; none so entirely depend upon him. For Christ does not give life to the soul separate from, but in and with himself. Hence his words are equally true of all men, in whatsoever state of grace they are: 'As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me: Without [or separate from] me ye can do nothing.' [John 15:4-5]
I have often felt that the closer I come to God, the further away from God I seem to be, because the closer I come to God, the more I recognize my own imperfections. It is in this recognition that I believe Christians begin to truly mature and bear fruit.
"In every state we need Christ in the following respects:
(1) Whatever grace we receive it is a free gift from him.
(2) We receive it as his purchase, merely in consideration of the price he paid.
(3) We have this grace, not only from Christ, but in him. For our perfection is not like that of a tree, which flourishes by the sap derived from its own root, but, as was said before, like that of a branch which, united to the vine, bears fruit; but, severed from it, is dried up and withered.
(4) All our blessings, temporal, spiritual, and eternal, depend on his intercession for us, which is one branch of his priestly office, whereof therefore we have always equal need.
(5) The best of men still need Christ in his priestly office to atone for their omissions, their shortcomings (as some not improperly speak), their mistakes in judgment and practice, and their defects of various kinds.
For these are all deviations from the perfect law, and consequently need an atonement. Yet that they are not properly sins we apprehend may appear from the words of Saint Paul: ‘He that loveth, hath fulfilled the law; for love is the fulfilling of the law’ (Rom. 13:10). Now, mistakes, and whatever infirmities necessarily flow from the corruptible state of the body, are no way contrary to love; nor, therefore, in the Scripture sense, sin.
"To explain myself a little further on this head:
(1) Not only sin, properly so called (that is, a voluntary transgression of a known law), but sin, improperly so called (that is, an involuntary transgression of a divine law, known or unknown), needs the atoning blood.
(2) I believe there is no such perfection in this life as excludes these involuntary transgressions, which I apprehend to be naturally consequent on the ignorance and mistakes inseparable from mortality.
(3) Therefore 'sinless perfection' is a phrase I never use, lest I should seem to contradict myself.
(4) I believe a person filled with the love of God is still liable to these involuntary transgressions.
(5) Such transgressions you may call sins, if you please; I do not, for the reasons above mentioned.
Instead of concentrating upon eliminating our sins and transgressions, which is the human way of trying to achieve perfection, let's rather consider what we can do to make this world a more loving and compassionate place for the whole of creation. Think about what we are told in Proverbs 10:12...
12 Hatred stirs up strife,
But love covers all transgressions.
And also in 1 Peter 4:8...
8 Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.
These verses don't even mention our requirement to "sin no more." They simply tell us the most effective way of doing it. The more unconditional our love becomes, and the further our sphere of compassion extends, the more we will find our sins and transgressions disappearing.
Therefore, go forth in the unconditional love of God.
The prophet Isaiah reached out in the Spirit of God and saw the perfection of God reestablished in the Peaceable Kingdom, and he wrote (Isaiah 11:6-9 NASV):
And the wolf will dwell with the lamb,
And the leopard will lie down with the kid,
And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together;
And a little boy will lead them.
Also the cow and the bear will graze;
Their young will lie down together;
And the lion will eat straw like the ox.
And the nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra,
And the weaned child will put his hand on the viper's den.
They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain,
For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord
As the waters cover the sea.
© 2001-2002 - The Mary T. and Frank L. Hoffman Family Foundation. All rights reserved. May be copied only for personal use or by not for profit organizations to promote compassionate and responsible living. All copied and reprinted material must contain proper credits and web site link www.all-creatures.org .
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If It's Not a Sin, What Is It? |
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