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FALSE TEACHING: SINLESSNESS


The Apostle John wrote:

"My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense-- Jesus Christ, the Righteous One."


Now I want to digress for a moment and address a false teaching that has arisen out of this issue. Some have taken passages like this, which say we don't have to sin, and have come up with the false doctrine known as "perfectionism".

"Perfectionism" is the false teaching that says Christians can reach a point of ultimate and unchanging sinlessness. From that point on in their lives they NEVER sin.


I know of at least one denomination that has made this a central teaching of their churches. And I know of at least 3 or 4 of our brotherhood's preachers who've taught this.


It ain't true.

It never was true.

It's built on a false understanding of Scripture.

It's a very appealing doctrine, but it can't stand up to real life application.


ILLUS: One of my preacher friends who taught this false doctrine invited me out to eat with him years ago. Now, I was there to eat. He was there to talk doctrine. But I knew I was in for a long theological debate when he asked me "Jeff do you believe that you can ever be sinless?"

Of course I knew what he was asking. And I knew WHY he was asking it. He wanted to enlist me in his cause.

I just wanted to eat.

I didn't want to get into an argument at the dinner table.

So I cut to the chase.


"Well Fred (his name wasn't Fred by the way) have you reached that point of sinlessness in your life?"

He thought about that for a moment and then quietly said "No, I haven't reached that point in my life."

"Well, Fred, do you know anyone else who's reached that point of sinlessness in THEIR lives?"

Again he gave it some thought and finally said "No" he didn't know of anyone who was sinless either.

"Well, I tell you what Fred, when you find someone who's reached that point in their lives, you come talk to me again about this and we'll discuss it."

That ended the discussion... and allowed me to finish my meal.


My friend was being honest with me.

A pure life where a person NEVER sins is a pipe dream.

No one manages it, and those who do drive themselves to distraction because they can't attain it.


But now, if we can't attain total sinlessness, if we can't reach a point in our lives when we never sin again... what did John mean by saying:

"I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense-- Jesus Christ, the Righteous One."


Well, John meant that our aim in life should be to avoid sinning.


ILLUS: I have often had conversations with people who want to be baptized into Christ, but they're afraid that after becoming Christians, they'll mess up and sin again and it will all be for naught. This is a real stumbling block for many people.


Years ago, I came up with a way of helping people to understand what Christianity is all about. I say, "here's the deal. The more you walk with Jesus, the less you're going to sin."


And I ask them if they've ever skated? (yes, they'll say)

Did they ever "fall down"? (yeah a lot)

If they skated again today, would the fall down as much as they did to begin with? (no)

Then I talk about professional ice skaters.

Do they ever fall down?

Well, yeah, but a whole lot less than you or I would if we tried those stunts.

Why don't they fall down as much as we do?

Because they've spent more time on their skates than we have.

In fact, they've spent so much time on their skates that's it's almost like walking for them. But they still fall down -- once in a while.


John tells us he wrote his letter so we wouldn't sin.

The more we walk with Jesus in His light the less we're going to fall into dark behaviors.

But if we do sin... we have an advocate with the Father -- Jesus



You see, all this starts when we become Christians.


Paul writes in Romans 6:

"...don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin-- BECAUSE ANYONE WHO HAS DIED HAS BEEN FREED FROM SIN. Romans 6:3-7

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