Can Any Christian on Earth Live a Life of Sinless Perfection?

2 Timothy 3:17; Hebrews 6:1
        That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
       Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God.

J. C. PHILPOT (1802-1869): What perfection does the Holy Ghost speak of here? Certainly not perfection in the flesh; that is but a wild dream of free-will and Arminianism.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): The original is very emphatic: Επι την τελειοτητα φερωμεθα· “Let us be carried on to this perfection.” God is ever ready by the power of His Spirit, to carry us forward to every degree of light, life, and love, necessary to prepare us for an eternal weight of glory. There can be little difficulty in attaining the end of our faith, the salvation of our souls from all sin, if God carry us forward to it; and this He will do if we submit to be saved in His own way, and on His own terms.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): We are not sinless and perfect in this world, we cannot be; and therefore, if we think we are, there is something wrong with our doctrine.

MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546): Original sin in us, is like the beard. We are shaved today and look clean, and have a smooth chin; tomorrow our beard has grown again, nor does it cease growing while we remain on earth. In like manner original sin cannot be extirpated from us; it springs up in us as long as we live…A Christian is never in a state of completion but always in a process of becoming.

JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791): What is Christian perfection? Loving God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength.

ADAM CLARKE: To love God with all the heart, soul, mind, and strength, and one’s neighbor as one’s self, is the perfection which the new covenant requires, and which the grace and Spirit of Christ works in every sincerely obedient, humble believer; and that very love, which is the fulfilling of the law and the perfection itself which the Gospel requires…Many tell us that “this never can be done, for no man can be saved from sin in this life.” Will these persons permit us to ask, how much sin may we be saved from in this life?

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Our Wesleyan brethren have a notion that they are going to be perfect here on earth. I should be very glad to see any of them when they are perfect; and if any of them happen to be in the position of servants and want a situation, I would be happy to give them any amount of wages I could spare, for I should feel myself greatly honoured and greatly blessed in having a perfect servant.

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): They appear to expect that a believer may at some period of his life be in a measure free from corruption, and attain to a kind of inward perfection.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: This again is obviously impossible. If that were the teaching, then we could be quite certain that there never has been and there never will be a single Christian in the world. For “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” We have all failed. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” It cannot be sinless perfection, therefore, which is advocated here.

J. C. PHILPOT: Perfection here and elsewhere [in the Bible] means being well-established and grounded in the faith, as we find the Apostle speaking, Hebrews 5:14, “strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age”—literally, as we read in the margin, perfect—“even those who by reason of use have their sense exercised to discern both good and evil.” Christian perfection does not then consist in a perfection in the flesh, but in having arrived at maturity in the divine life, in being what I may call a Christian adult, or what the Apostle terms “a man in Christ.” When Paul therefore says, “Let us therefore, as many as be perfect,” he means, “being no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine.” It is this Christian maturity which is called in Scripture, “perfection.”

RICHARD GLOVER (circa 1862): If a man is a perfectionist, and thinks he is sinless, it is proof not that he is better, but only that he is blinder, than his neighbours.

C. H. SPURGEON: I question whether any man is much better than he is thought to be by his wife. Did you ever see a perfect man? I did once. He called upon me, and wanted me to come and see him, for I should get great instruction from him if I did. I said, “I have no doubt of it, but I should not like to come into your house; I think I should be hardly able to get into your room.”
      “How is that?” he replied.
      “Well, I suppose your house would be so full of angels that there would not be room for me.”
      He did not like that; so I broke another joke or two upon his head; whereupon he went into a perfect furor. “Well friend,” I said to him, “I think I am as perfect as you after all; for do perfect men get angry?” He denied that he was angry, although there was a peculiar redness about his cheeks that is very common to persons when they are angry; at any rate I think I rather spoiled his perfection, for he evidently went home less satisfied with himself than when he went out.

AUGUSTUS TOPLADY (1713-1778): A very small house, I am persuaded, would hold the really perfect upon earth. You might drive them all into a nutshell.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): Sinless perfection in this world is a madman’s delusion.

C. H. SPURGEON: I met another man who considered himself perfect, but he was thoroughly mad; and I do not believe that any of your pretenders to perfection are better than good maniacs, superior bedlamites; that is all I believe they are. For while a man has got a spark of reason left in him, he cannot, unless he is the most impudent of imposters, talk about his being perfect.

D. L. MOODY (1837-1899): The nearer men are to being sinless, the less they talk about it.

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): Perfection cannot be found in fallen man. The best are sometimes blamable, and the wisest often mistaken.

RICHARD BAXTER (1615-1691): This life was not intended to be the place of our perfection, but the preparation for it.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): We shall never come to the perfect man till we come to the perfect world.

C. H. SPURGEON: If a being were perfect, the angels would come down in ten minutes, and carry him off to heaven, for he would be ripe for it as soon as he had attained perfection.


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