Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.
(Phil 3:12 NAS95)
It seems every few years we have to cycle through historic doctrinal errors that get rediscovered and repackaged. Everything from ultimate reconciliation (everyone will be saved), to excessive emphasis on demons, and spiritual warfare (that one decimated the Welch Revival), to a rediscovery of antinomianism and its twin sister sinless perfection. There seems to be another version of sinless perfection filtering through the church today. One version says that once you get a revelation of the cross you won’t sin. An even more sinister version says that because of the cross it doesn’t matter what we do because the Lord can’t see our sin because of the cross. Both versions are destructive. Here is how Spurgeon addressed this in the 1800’s.
“Recollect that there are two kinds of perfection which the Christian needs-the perfection of justification in the person of Jesus, and the perfection of sanctification wrought in him by the Holy Spirit. At present, corruption yet remains even in the breasts of the regenerate-experience soon teaches us this. Within us are still lusts and evil imaginations. But I rejoice to know that the day is coming when God shall finish the work which he has begun; and he shall present my soul, not only perfect in Christ, but perfect through the Spirit, without spot or blemish, or any such thing. Can it be true that this poor sinful heart of mine is to become holy even as God is holy? Can it be that this spirit, which often cries, O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this sin and death? shall get rid of sin and death-that I shall have no evil things to vex my ears, and no unholy thoughts to disturb my peace? Oh, happy hour! may it be hastened! When I cross the Jordan, the work of sanctification will be finished; but not till that moment shall I even claim perfection in myself.”
I love that, the two fold work of perfection of Jesus in our lives. First, to those in Christ we are legally free from sin and no longer have its stain on our conscience. Secondly, the Holy Spirit continues His work in our lives to perfect us in our spiritual journey. I have to join Paul in saying, “Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus”.