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 19 K - Can Children be Born with Perfection?

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)

The next question in John Wesley's A Plain Account of Christian Perfection asks whether children can be born as perfect human beings.  In other words, can perfection in the parents eliminate the sin nature that we all seem to be born with?  The Bible seems to say that they cannot.  For example, note what we are told in Romans 3:23:

23. for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, NASU

This is the reason that I find the question posted to Wesley, at the conference, so curious: 

"Question.  But if two perfect Christians had children, how could they be born in sin, since there was none in the parents?

"Answer.  It is a possible, but not a probable case; I doubt whether it ever was or ever will be.  But waiving this, I answer: Sin is entailed upon me, not by immediate generation; but by my first parent.  'In Adam all died [1 Corinthians 15:22]; by the disobedience of one, all men were made sinners' [Romans 5:19]; all men, without exception, who were in his loins when he ate the forbidden fruit.

"We have a remarkable illustration of this in gardening; grafts on a crab stock bear excellent fruit; but sow the kernels of this fruit, and what will be the event?  They produce as mere crabs as ever were eaten.

John Wesley answers very appropriately; even when, I think, he realized that the question was meant to undermine his teachings on Christian perfection.

It is not what we impart to our children physically that brings them into a state of perfection; it is the life we present to them as a consistent example.  However, like us, our children are born with a free will, and choose the ways of life they desire to live.  The more children sees the benefits of living as Christ did upon this earth, the better the chance they have of seeking such a life for themselves.  But even with the best examples, our children may decide to go in a different direction.

Children are also quick to discern our hypocrisy.  If we are not living the life we teach our children, then it is likely they will not follow what they are taught.  We have observed many parents who drop their children off at Sunday School and never attend church themselves.  These children ask, "Why do I have to come to church if my parents don't come?"  Children ask the same question about other things that the parents do that are different from what they are allowed to do.  We can never impart holiness to our children with words alone.

As in sport competitions, we need to constantly raise the bar of perfection as a goal to a higher level.  We need to break our previous record, and that of others, as a challenge to our children to do the same.  I can remember when people thought it was impossible to run the 4-minute mile, but that goal has long been surpassed. 

If we want to, we can become more loving and compassionate today than we were yesterday.  We can constantly expand our sphere of love and compassion so that nothing in the whole of creation is excluded.  And we can encourage our children and others to join us.

Before we leave this discussion, we should understand that Christian perfection is an aspect of the lives of the children of God.  Who are these children of God?  According to Jesus, they are the peacemakers (Matthew 5:9); and according to Paul, they are those who seek to remove the corruption that has brought pain, suffering and death to the whole of creation (Romans 8:18-25).  If we are not doing this for humans, for animals, and for the environment, we and our children are not the peacemaking children of God we are called upon to be, and who Jesus and Wesley say are part of the state of perfection that we are to achieve.

Go on to: Chapter 19 L - What Does a Perfect Person Do More Than Others?
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.