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I understand that there are verses that say becoming sinless is impossible:

For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not. (Ecclesiastes 7:20)

As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: (Romans 3:10)

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. (1 John 1:8)

Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned— (For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law (Romans 5:12-19, NKJV)

But how can it be impossible if we can do all things with God?

But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible. (Matthew 19:29)

I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)

How can the highest courts of heaven be filled with “an innumerable number” of those who stopped sinning in life?

22 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,
23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect (Hebrews 12)

How was Noah “a just man and perfect in his generations, and [he] walked with God”(Genesis 6:9)?
How was the Israelite king Asa's heart “perfect with the Lord all his days.” (1 Kings 15:14)?
How was Job “perfect and upright, and one that feared God” (Job 1:1)

God makes people's hearts all the same, so therefore we all have the same capacity to stop sinning:

He fashioneth [all mens’] hearts alike; he considereth all their works. (Psalm 33:15)

So how can it be impossible to be sinless?

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  • I think by logic alone you should be able to answer "yes" to this, with some caveats. The caveat being that we must be talking about individual sins rather than sinfulness of man. If that is what we're talking about then sins are discrete events and there will always be a period of time after it, so between your last sin and your death, you were "sinless".
    – mjaggard
    Dec 18, 2023 at 18:04

6 Answers 6

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You quoted some verses but didn't capture what they said.

For example, we can't do anything with God, but through God. Perfection is God's work and not done by the work of man, but is the work of God in man. Our sins are covered by God, and we become justified by His blood, not our work. We become perfect by Jesus Christ's sinless sacrifice for us. Holiness is definitely the goal, but we see in a glass darkly, but then we will be like Him for we shall see Him as He is. On earth, we will never be without sin other than being undeservedly justified, not by our work but His. It's our faith that justifies us, not our sinless work. Noah was just, not because he was sinless but because he believed God, and like Abraham, it was counted unto him as righteousness. But not any kind of faith is good enough for righteousness. Satan believes God, but gains no righteousness from it for his kind of faith won't do it. If you are trusting in Christ for your salvation from sin, believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, and trust in Jesus as Lord, you will be justified. This is not an act of your work, but His substitutionary work on your behalf. It's what Luther discovered so long ago and Paul long before him. Remember, without faith, it's impossible to please God.

I also think in some verses you are interpreting perfect as sinlessness, and that's a misinterpretation in some of those verses. There is no way that Job was sinless all his days. As you quoted earlier, there is none righteous, no not one. We're not talking about sinlessness here. We're talking about righteousness by God's grace and walking in that grace and righteousness, but not perfection. Think about 1 John 1:9. Staying in that relationship with God takes behavior and hearts that aren't swayed away from putting Him first.

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    @Sam Please don't put replies in external links. If you have a new question, post a new question with a link back to the original.
    – Mast
    Dec 18, 2023 at 21:10
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Humans on their own cannot achieve perfection (sinlessness) as indicated by the first four passages you listed. However, with divine aid they can be made perfect, as indicated in the men in heaven who are “made perfect” in Hebrews 12:23.

It is improbable (though not impossible, depending on what denomination you ask) that any man or woman be sinless in this life. That’s because we have a nature that tends to stray from God (as seen in nearly every story of the Old and New Testament). The verses you cited probably do not mean perfection as a state of perpetual sinlessness, and that’s why there is a diversity in the word used for perfection. Sometimes it is “blameless”, sometimes “pious”, sometimes peaceful.

For an example of this, Job 1:1 uses the Hebrew word “ תָּם־”, which according to the Englishman’s concordance can mean complete or pious. It seems clear that the author is intending to show Job as a man who follows God well, not necessarily perfectly. This same logic can be applied to all the other verses.

In conclusion, it is only possible to become sinless through divine aid. (which can happen)

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    If anyone says they have no sin they deceive themselves and the truth is not in them (1 John 1:8). It is much more than improbable in this life. All have sinned and fallen short. Those in Christ will be made perfect but it is not a human attainment and it is not fully realized here. Dec 18, 2023 at 13:36
  • I agree with your quote from 1 John 1:8 - but "All have sinned and fallen short." is not relevant here because nobody in this discussion is claiming that anyone except Jesus was always without sin, only questioning whether you can at some point stop sinning.
    – mjaggard
    Dec 18, 2023 at 18:01
  • I offer a rephrase - while it is theoretically possible to never sin in this life, only one (Jesus of course) has actually managed it.
    – wberry
    Dec 19, 2023 at 14:18
  • @wberry If I understand correctly (and this is what I meant in my question, although that might have been unclear), All humans have sinned at least once. It is possible (through divine aid) to become sinless. Only Jesus is the one who never sinned. All of us have sinned at least once in our lives, but we can break free from that sin.
    – Audra M.
    Dec 20, 2023 at 2:23
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It is not impossible to become sinless but it is not a human attainment and it is not fully realized here.

Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.  And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it. - Colossians 2:8-15

What Jesus has done is to strip the law of sin and death of power over us by triumphing over them in the cross. What He has also done is to infuse within us the law of the spirit of life in Him (Romans 8:1-4). Sin and death are still in the world but our slavery to them is broken. We have been redeemed. Purchased out of the slave market of sin by the precious blood of God's only Son.

According to Paul we must choose to walk in the spirit (of life in Christ) rather than in the flesh (wherein lies sin and death) and, according to Paul, the disposition of sin in our bodies is never fully shaken off in this mortal life (Romans 7). A huge part of this Christian life is confessing when we sin and, rather than trying to evaluate whether or how close we are to arriving at sinlessness, strive to stay in step with the Spirit in faith which operates by love. God, through the Spirit, will do the rest.

A person who has received Christ has been given the power to become children of God and this power, the Holy Spirit of God himself, the law of the Spirit of life in Christ, is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance. The good work that God has begun in that person will be brought to completion in the day of Christ. That person is predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son.

Good works that might be manifest are fruits of that Spirit, fruit that comes from the nourishment of the true vine. These are not the product of human effort and no boasting therein is appropriate. A human being on earth, a sinner saved by grace, must either confess personal sin or be thankful for the righteousness of Christ. A human being in heaven will demand nothing as wages for righteousness because it is not our own but Christ's.


The verse quoted in OP regarding the ability to do all things in Christ Jesus is, contextually, about Paul's ability to be content in every circumstance, whether to abound or suffer need. It is not appropriate to apply this to literally everything; such as claiming the ability to achieve sinlessness in this mortal life.

In Philippians 3 we can find the word 'perfect' used carrying different meanings from absolute perfection (like Jesus) to Christian maturity and this serves to resolve the various uses of 'perfect' applied to individuals throughout Scripture:

Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.  Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,  I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. - Philippians 3:12-15

Until we see Him and are made like Him, we are pressing on.

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The Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) treats this issue differently than the New Testament does. In the OT, there are several instances where were are told that a person has not sinned. The OP mentions several these, the most important being the Book of Job, where God Himself testifies:

Job 2:3

Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.”

Job is clearly without sin here, and his been all his life. We see similar statements in the Psalms:

Psalm 18

The Lord acknowledged my righteousness, rewarded my clean hands. 22 For I kept the ways of the Lord; I was not disloyal to my God. 23 For his laws were all before me, his decrees I did not cast aside. 24 I was honest toward him; I was on guard against sin. 25 So the Lord rewarded my righteousness, the cleanness of my hands in his sight.

A survey of Christian attitudes

If we presume the psalmist and the author of Job speak truthfully, the human sinlessness seems plausible. However, both these and other expressions of sinlessness in the OT are interpreted in most forms of Christianity as temporary states. "All have sinned" (Romans 3:23) and "If we say, We have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us." (1 John 1:10)

In most Protestant traditions, only Jesus is seen as sinless. Catholicism and Orthodoxy include Mary as a second example of human sinlessness. In addition, the Orthodox teach that human beings can achieve not only salvation but divinization or theosis, which does include the idea of sinlessness on a permanent basis. Finally many Holiness Christians believe that full sanctification is possible for Christians during their lifetime.

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    Blameless and sinless are distinct. Dec 19, 2023 at 1:04
  • In the later chapters of Job, he demands that God tell him the reason for his suffering. God's very lengthy response, which includes the Leviathan narrative and others, can be viewed as a rebuke of Job's attitude. The sin of Job was self-righteousness in the end, but it required an ordeal and a word from God to realize it and repent.
    – wberry
    Dec 19, 2023 at 14:21
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Is becoming sinless impossible?

The short answer is yes. The only exception is Jesus Christ, Our Redeemer.

Even Scriptures tells us that the just an sin seven times a day, albeit they are very minor offences against God.

For a righteous man falleth seven times, and riseth up again; But the wicked are overthrown by calamity. - Proverbs 24:16

We may have a fallen nature, but we can still raise ourselves up with God’s help.

The old saying goes, “You can’t keep a good man down.” Essentially, this is the meaning of Proverbs 24:16: “For though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again.” A person who trusts in the Lord and depends on God throughout his life may trip and fall over and over again, but he won’t stay down. He will overcome obstacles and challenges by God’s grace and strength, dusting himself off and rising again. On the other hand, “One disaster is enough to overthrow the wicked” (Proverbs 24:16, NLT). The ungodly have no power to rise above adversity—once they are down, they cannot pick themselves back up.

In Proverbs, the Teacher often compares two separate paths in life—one of the righteous and the other of the wicked (Proverbs 10:6–7, 16; 15:9). These two pathways lead to profoundly different destinations (Proverbs 10:28–30). The route of righteousness always leads to what is good, whereas the road of wickedness ends in ruin and destruction (Proverbs 11:23; 12:7). God’s Word promises abundant blessings and rewards for those who commit to doing what is right but warns against the disastrous consequences of wickedness (Proverbs 12:2–3, 21; 13:9, 21, 25; 15:6; 20:7).

In Proverbs, a righteous man typically refers to a person of strong moral character, emphasizing that he is “respectable,” “honest,” “principled,” and “honorable.” In Hebrew, the word translated as “falls” can mean “falls down” (literally) as in “no longer remaining upright” or (figuratively) “experiences disaster, tragedy, or ruin.” Rises again conveys the literal meaning of “gets back up after falling,” as well as the figurative sense of “overcomes adversity” or “becomes prosperous again.”

The significance of falling “seven times” could simply refer to falling frequently or many times. But the number seven is often a symbol of completeness or perfection in Scripture. It may illustrate here that, no matter how many times a righteous man falls and no matter if his fall seems to be completely and utterly irreversible, the setback is only temporary. He is destined to rise again.

What does it mean that a righteous man falls seven times (Proverbs 24:16)?

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  • Look at the surrounding text. The previous verse is "Do not lie in wait, O wicked man, near the dwelling of the righteous; do not destroy his resting place." It's saying that if someone trips a righteous man (makes him sin), he will just get back up.
    – Audra M.
    Dec 18, 2023 at 13:31
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Through the power of God can we overcome sin that would otherwise be impossible. You can pray something as simple as "In Jesus name 'sin urge' go away." And then observe it go away.

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