On Perfectionism

Dave Sable

Paul's argument in most, if not all of his epistles, is to tell us what we are in Christ (principle) and then exhort us to live according to this truth (practical).  For instance, we are "complete in him", therefore, we are not to run around in sexual sin, but are to express joy and love.  We live this way because of what we are.

The tension is that we do this so imperfectly.  How do we deal with this?  Do we assume we cannot really stop sinning at all and we resign to be continually forgiven?  Or do we feel that with a little exhortation we can motivate one another to achieve near (if not perfect) holiness?

Most theologians deal with this with the "now, but not yet" concept of the kingdom.  On the one hand, we do have new life in Christ that stirs us to make progress in holiness.  On the other hand, our salvation will not be fully complete until Christ returns and we are given our new bodies replacing habits of behavior and thinking ground into our flesh.

So, we do strive for holiness.  But, we realize that the result is only a better and better approximation of Christ.  It will never be a complete perfection in this life.  Some things we will overcome.  Other things we will struggle with for the rest of our lives on earth.  But, we are walking along this path of wisdom, perfection, sanctification, and maturity.

The point is, if you are seeking to be more Christ-like in attitude and behavior (however small the progress may seem), you are on the right track.  It is the life of God that gives you those desires.  If you have no interest in obeying God, or (on the other hand) you embrace the burden of sinless perfection, you have gotten off the track.

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