Take the 2-minute tour ×
Christianity Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for committed Christians, experts in Christianity and those interested in learning more. It's 100% free, no registration required.

In looking at the opposite of this question posted here, I realized it seems better to raise this question in the reverse.

Assuming the doctrine of original sin, and God's work of the holy Spirit in a believer, can a believer ever do something where the motive becomes sinless? This would assume that the motive could not be improved upon any moral ground but was perfect and 100% pure. In this sense I guess that one idea, or one thought, or act, would be no less pure then our acts and thoughts in heaven? Maybe it means it would be as pure as Christ's thoughts himself? Is this possible, or impossible? Does any church body believe in such perfection for at least one moment.

Note: My own church tradition under Luther, Calvin, St, Augustine, etc. does not believe this is possible, but am curious if any other church does.

share|improve this question
1  
To clarify: Are you asking whether it is possible, or whether some denominations teach that it is possible? The question title suggests the former, while the text suggests the latter. –  Bruce Alderman Aug 22 '12 at 15:47
    
We're not sinners because we sin, we sin because we are sinners. RC Sproul –  atamata Aug 23 '12 at 11:09
    
I don't understand why this question is voting to be closed. It seems like a good question. An explanation would be nice as to how it is "not constructive." –  San Jacinto Aug 23 '12 at 11:52
    
@BruceAlderman - Yes I see what you mean, the problem is my original question did not match the title and someone posed an answer against my title which I liked. I fixed the title and apologized to the person whose answer no longer fits the question. Sorry about that, was my mistake. Should be clear now. –  Mike Aug 24 '12 at 15:57
add comment

3 Answers 3

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Most Wesleyan/Holiness denominations teach that it is at least theoretically possible. This would include Methodists, Wesleyans, Nazarenes, and the Salvation Army, as well as most churches that have "holiness" in their name.

This doctrine is known as Christian Perfection or Entire Sanctification (depending on the denomination) and was outlined by John Wesley in a sermon titled Christian Perfection. Wesley later wrote a book, A Plain Account of Christian Perfection.

Essentially, the teaching is this. God expects us to give up our own desires and live for him alone:

1 Peter 4:1-2

Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same intention (for whoever has suffered in the flesh has finished with sin), so as to live for the rest of your earthly life no longer by human desires but by the will of God.

It is God at work within us that enables us to do this:

Philippians 2:12-13

Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

1 John 5:18

We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him.

If God works in us and protects us and enables us to stop sinning, then all we have to do is give up our own willfulness and let God take control.

In theory it's that simple, but in practice it is far from easy. The Apostle Paul struggled:

Romans 7:19-23

For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.

After preaching Christ for many years, Paul wrote from prison that this perfection was still in the future:

Philippians 3:12-14

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

And even Jesus was tempted to follow his own (human) will rather than God's:

Matthew 26:39

And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will."

So God's expectation is that we don't sin any longer. God has promised to protect us and work in us to accomplish this, and with God all things are possible. Therefore, theoretical perfection is possible. Just don't ask me for examples of people who have actually achieved it.

share|improve this answer
    
Do you mean 'theoretically' free from conscious and unconscious sins, or just conscious sins? –  Mike Aug 22 '12 at 15:36
    
Both conscious and unconscious. To the extent that we follow God's will and not our own, we are not sinning. But this assumes we are perfectly following God's will, which is almost never a safe assumption. –  Bruce Alderman Aug 22 '12 at 15:46
    
Bruce - I am not fully convinced that Wesley believed in the kind of perfection I have described, but I will read your links so that I better understand what your are trying to explain. Regardless of my findings I think you have given an acceptable answer. –  Mike Aug 24 '12 at 15:59
add comment

No I don't think it is possible.

All our actions even the best ones are always motivated by some form of selfishness.

Take motherly love for example. A mother's love may be based in a lot of factors one of which may be a need for old age security. (emphasis on maybe) That could be why a mother has the strongest love for her own children and not for other children roaming in the street.

We could go on from there to all of our other relationships. We make friends that laugh at our jokes and like the same movies. We try to date that guy (or gal) that looks smart and is intelligent. And then we try to marry a guy who is rich, dumb and altogether silent.

In each of the cases we expect something for ourself.

Even when we may do something at a complete loss, we have at the back of our head an unconscious idea that we won't admit even to ourselves. "I did this, I must be a very good person." "Psalms says one who gives to poor lends to Lord, so God must be pleased." Or hundreds of different variations thereof.

Now compare this to God. Who does he have to please? What does he stand to gain out of anything? His love is kind of like quantum mechanics. When you hear about it you nod approvingly with absolutely no idea what it's all about.

And human nature is kind of like Chemistry. You have few basic elements which can be combined to create an uncountable number of compounds. But all of those different from each other, and just by looking at the them you can't always guess the constituents.

The corruption/original sin forms the fundamental element of human nature. Whenever we cook up a thought or action it always finds its way into it some way or other. It may not be directly visible (just as you couldn't tell that water contains hydrogen just by looking at it), but it's always there.

Everything in our life is laced with trace quantities of pride and self love. Our hope and faith in God are laced with a desire to roll around the clouds and send bolts of lightning at will.

I could ramble on with examples but this my point - I don't think it is possible to achieve the purity of thoughts at the same level as God for even a single moment. Purity and love are defined by what God is/does. And we can't be God.

A better part of our eternity in heaven would be spent in trying to become like Him, and to try to imitate (desperately and hopelessly) the one who -

Job 4:18 ... puts no trust even in His servants; And against His angels He charges error.

share|improve this answer
    
Привет мой друг - What a lovely set of thoughts! Wisdom beyond your age. Thank you. Reminds me of Paul, when he said 'When I desire to do good, evil is right there with me.' (like a shadow) –  Mike Aug 22 '12 at 15:05
    
@Mike Spasiba :) –  Monika Michael Aug 22 '12 at 15:27
2  
The question asks for official church beliefs, not what one individual believes. Furthermore, personal opinion is off-topic on this site. Can you edit your answer to explain the official doctrine of some church or Christian group? (Even one that agrees with your personal opinion--which would make the edit quite trivial.) –  Flimzy Aug 23 '12 at 6:56
    
@Flimzy I have to disagree with you that every answer has to represent the official doctrine of some denomination. There's a thing called as non-denominational Christians. And I've learned that they're welcome on the site. –  Monika Michael Aug 23 '12 at 7:25
1  
@MonikaMichael: There may be times when an answer that doesn't address official doctrine is a good answer, but those times never begin with "I think..." There must be some reliable source behind an answer. That may be official doctrine, scripture, or specific facts, according to the relevant meta post. Please note, again, I'm not saying I disagree with your opinion; just that the answer needs to be solidified for this site. –  Flimzy Aug 23 '12 at 17:02
show 12 more comments

Of course, nothing holds true for what all Baptists believe, but according to the theology taught in our Church, there is a distinction between what we are and what we do, or at least, what we currently are doing.

It is upon that distinction that this question can be answered.

From our understanding of the doctrine of original sin, it teaches that we are sinners from conception on. It does not teach that we sin each and every moment of our life, but rather that we are, by nature, sinners.

From http://sbcheritage.com/baptist-statesman-james-boyce-on-original-sin-and-imputed-guilt/

  1. The Scriptures plainly assume and declare that God righteously punishes all men, not only for what they do, but for what they are. Men are indeed represented as more guilty and sinful than they know themselves to be, because, through the restraints with which God surrounds them, their natures have not been fully developed into all the sin towards which they tend. This is the argument of the first part of the Epistle to the Romans, the turning point of which is Romans 2:1. It is also illustrated in the case of Hazael. 2 Kings 8:12, 113.

  2. It follows from the facts in these last two statements, that a corrupt nature makes a condition as truly sinful and guilty, and liable to punishment, as actual transgressions. Consequently, at the very moment of the birth, the presence and possession of such a nature shows that even the infant sons of Adam are born under all the penalties which befell their ancestor in the day of his sin. Actual transgression subsequently adds new guilt to guilt already existing, but does not substitute a state of guilt for one of innocence. [Emphasis Added]

Preface: This is from a denomination that believes that you cannot lose your salvation once saved.

As believers, we are justified, redeemed, and no longer guilty of sin. However, we do, as saved believers, still commit sins. It's just that those sins are also covered by the blood of Christ. (I'm going to stop there because it's really easy to go off on a tangent here.)

Similarly, these are fast airplanes.

enter image description here

But at the moment this picture was taken, they were not going fast. The fact that they are not going fast does not change their nature, or negate the fact that they are fast planes.

Based on this distinction, the question, can we go a moment without sin is "yes".

Even though we are sinners from birth, and we are always sinners, until saved by Grace, that does not mean that we are constantly sinning. The fact that we may not be sinning at any given moment does not negate the fact that we are sinners.

Other comparinsons:

  • A thief can go a moment without stealing, but is still a thief.
  • A murderer can go a moment without killing, but is still a killer.

All of the above provides the framework for the argument that it is theoretically possible. Specifically, you asked if any Christian denomination actually thinks it's possible, and the answer is a resounding "yes". There are more than one, but here is one Church's view.

John warns that we should never think that we immune to the problem of sin. "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us" (I John 1:8). Therefore, we must ever be vigilant against sin. "Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall" (I Corinthians 10:12).

However, I know of no passage that claims that a person sins daily. Instead, the Christian is told to strive to remove sin from his life.

"What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?" (Romans 6:1-2).

"Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame" (I Corinthians 15:34).

The goal is not to sin. If we do stumble, we have a way out.

"My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous" (I John 2:1).

But it would be false to conclude that such sins occur daily or are even necessarily frequently. The Christian is striving to become like Christ, who knew no sin. "But, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head -- Christ" (Ephesians 4:15). We won't reach the perfection that Christ has, but we do strive to imitate him. Thus, in that growth, if we are successful, one would expect to find the occurrences of sin to become less frequent as the Christian gains skills in battling sin. "Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you" (James 4:7).

Think of it this way, did Jesus give the adulterous woman an impossible task when he told her, "go and sin no more" (John 8:11)?

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.