Christian PerfectionChristian Perfection
A Christian Living Book Series from Guide to Kingdom Living

True Christian living requires us to live according to Kingdom standards which bring Heaven to earth.

Christian Perfection
Chapter 19D - If It's Not a Sin, What Is It?

A commentary on John Wesley's A Plain Account of Christian Perfection
By: Frank L. Hoffman
Jesus said, "Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."
(Matthew 5:48)
(Wesley's writings are in bold)

In the previous Chapter, we saw that John Wesley opened the door for this next question when he said that he doesn't call a sin of omission a sin.  There are always people who spend their lives finding fault with what the other person does, instead of doing some earthly good on their own.  True and unconditional love sees beyond these trivial things, and focuses upon the furtherance of that love and compassion.  With this in mind, let's look at the following question and Wesley's answer as it appeared in the 19th part of A Plain Account of Christian Perfection:

"Question.  What advice would you give to those that do, and those that do not, call them [sins] so?

"Answer.  Let those that do not call them sins never think that themselves or any other persons are in such a state as that they can stand before infinite justice without a Mediator.  This must argue either the deepest ignorance, or the highest arrogance and presumption.

"Let those who do call them so, beware how they confound these defects with sins, properly so called.

"But how will they avoid it?  How will these be distinguished from those, if they are all promiscuously called sins?  I am much afraid, if we should allow any sins to be consistent with perfection, few would confine the idea to those defects concerning which only the assertion could be true.

Wesley keeps playing the "Perfection Game" with these critics by arguing over words instead of a changed way of life where love abounds.

We need to remember that we can never change the past.  If we have committed a sin of omission or a premeditated sin, we cannot take it back or change any of the consequences.  We can only repent, and go on from there with a greater commitment to love unconditionally.  However, some people don't want to do this; they would rather argue the point rather than seek perfection, as the next question seems to indicate.

"Question.  But how can a liableness to mistake consist with perfect love?  Is not a person who is perfected in love every moment under its influence?  And can any mistake flow from pure love?

"Answer.  I answer

(1)  many mistakes may consist with pure love;

(2)  some may accidentally flow from it: I mean, love itself may incline us to mistake.  The pure love of our neighbor, springing from the love of God, thinketh no evil, believeth and hopeth all things.  Now, this very temper, unsuspicious, ready to believe and hope the best of all men, may occasion our thinking some men better than they really are.  Here, then, is a manifest mistake, accidentally flowing from pure love.

This brings up a very interesting point about Christian perfection.  It shouldn't take away our common sense and discernment.  Many Christians, who seem to want to justify some of their own sins, say that we're not to judge one another; but they are mistaken in their application, for that expression refers to judging unto condemnation, which is reserved for God.  To discern the actions of another is not judging them, but observing their life as to whether or not it is a reflection of Jesus Christ. 

If what we see in another person is not Christ-like, then we should be cautious in our dealings with them, lest we fall into their sins with them.  If what we observe is ungodly, then we have both the right and obligation not to be a part of it, and to tell the other person why we are unwilling to do so.  By applying Christian perfection in this way, we also may lead that person into a more Christ-like life.  This is moving forward in love!

Go on to: Chapter 19 E - Is Anything Greater Than Perfection?
Return to: Christian Perfection Table of Contents
Return to: Christian Living Table of Contents

Peaceable Kingdom
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.