The book of Romans is a very interesting book. It covers nearly the whole gamut of Christian doctrine and theology. In fact I use a basic three point outline to divide the book easily, it can then of course be subdivided and studied in a deeper measure. The three main points of the book of Romans are;
1. God’s Penalty and salvation of sins – Justification – Romans 1-5
2. God’s Power and freedom from Sin – Sanctification – Romans 6-8
3. God’s Continued Presence and Perfection – Glorification – Romans 9-16
It seems that once you get into that second part you find some startling discoveries and what seem like theological contradictions. The one that stands out to me is the difference between Biblical Perfection and Absolute Perfection. What is Paul talking about? Lets first of all look at some interesting things in this brief survey of Romans 6
V1 – Not continuing in sin;
V2 – Not living in sin;
V4 – Walking in newness of life:
V6 – Not serving sin (Being a slave to it)
V10-11 – Living unto God;
V12 – Not letting sin rule over us;
V13 – Serving God with our bodily members;
V14 – Not being under the dominion of sin;
V19-22 – Holiness
Here are three conclusions I want to draw from this survey.
1. There is no such thing as “SINLESS PERFECTION.” Period
a. All have sinned – the only one exempt from this is Christ. I think about Sister Goins, precious lady that she was, had to be born again even at the age of three. Even John the Baptist had to be sanctified, even if it was in his mother’s womb.
b. Everyone has sinned. There is no one absolutely no one but Christ who has had or ever will have their own righteousness.
c. Even when one is born again and sanctified there is the possibility of once again falling into sin. And even then there are those things that we like to call faults that others call sin. We need to be wary of those things as well.
John Wesley in his little book – A Plain Account of Christian Perfection states very clearly, “sinless perfection is a phrase I never use, lest I should seem to contradict myself.”
2. There is such a thing as “BEING DEAD TO SIN.”
a. Otherwise God would not have put it in His precious word.
b. Romans 6:6 – Crucified With Christ –
i. There is debate and battle over that little word before crucified. I noticed a split down theological lines that most Calvinist or those who lean in that direction like to change that word (and there is some Greek language rules that can apply) ‘is’ to ‘was’ Most of those who are of the Arminian persuasion like the word, (and there is ample Greek language rules to allow), ‘IS’
1. Here is how I have come to solve the dilemma and I toiled with this for some time one night and finally today I feel like the Lord gave me the answer.
ii. There are two theological terms that apply to the atonement of Christ –
1. His “Provisional” death
a. This is that Christ has provisionally atoned for every single person in the world.
2. And then what I call “Operational” Death
a. There is a point in a persons life that they will come face to face with their sins. They will do one of two things – Cover it soothe their conscience reject Christ and go on or Repent confess it and accept Christ and start anew.
i. Christ died for both of these, they are both atoned for, however only one took advantage of the provisional sacrifice that is offered.
iii. Getting back to my point – There is a provisional crucifixion of our sin with Christ but it is only when we “Reckon ourselves dead…” that we receive the benefits of that provisional work on the cross.
Since there is no such thing as “Sinless Perfection,” But there is such as thing as “BEING DEAD TO SIN” then there must also be such a thing as “CHRISTIAN PERFECTION.”
3. There is such a thing as “Christian Perfection”
a. Hence it appears that, by Christian perfection, we mean nothing but the cluster and maturity of the graces which compose the Christian character in the church militant. In other words, Christian perfection is a spiritual constellation made up of these gracious stars, — perfect repentance, perfect faith, perfect humility, perfect meekness, perfect self-denial, perfect resignation, perfect hope, perfect charity for our visible enemies, as well as for our earthly relations; and, above all, perfect love for our invisible God, through the explicit knowledge of our Mediator Jesus Christ. And as this last star is always accompanied by all the others, as Jupiter is by his satellites, we frequently use, as St. John, the phrase “perfect love,” instead of the word “perfection;” and understanding by it the pure love of God, shed abroad in the heart of established believers by the Holy Ghost, which is abundantly given them under the fullness of the Christian dispensation. John Fletcher – Fletcher on Perfection
b. I tend not to use the term “Christian Perfection” simply for the reason that it sometimes brings doubt and confusion to people. But I do like the Biblical words, “Holiness,” and “Sanctification,” and “Righteousness.”
C. Not only is there such a thing as “Christian Perfection” or “Entire Sanctification” but it is required of every single living person to have before they stand before God. Here is a list of verses you can study for yourself as to it’s requirement.
There are many many more, should you be interested in learning more of this doctrine you can email me or check out Wesley’s Plain Account of Christian Perfection.