Stylos is the blog of Jeff Riddle, a Reformed Baptist Pastor in North Garden, Virginia. The title "Stylos" is the Greek word for pillar. In 1 Timothy 3:15 Paul urges his readers to consider "how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar (stylos) and ground of the truth."
Image (left side): Decorative urn with title for the book of Acts in Codex Alexandrinus.
Thursday, February 06, 2014
The Vision (2.6.14): The Bible does not teach "perfectionism"
Sunday afternoon, I preached on Question # 65 in the Spurgeon Baptist Catechism
series, “Is any man able perfectly to keep the commandments of God?”Once again, I leaned heavily on the Puritan
Thomas Vincent’s exposition of the Westminster Shorter Catechism.The catechism clearly rejects any notion of “Christian
perfectionism,” all the while urging “evangelical” obedience to the
commandments of God.As Vincent puts it:“The saints on earth do keep the
commandments of God sincerely, but not perfectly.” The section below is drawn
from Vincent’s proof that no mere man [the Lord Jesus was no mere man] has been
ever been able to keep God’s commandments absolutely:
How do we prove that no saint ever attained
perfection in this life?
the best of saints, in this life, are renewed but in part, and have remainders
of flesh and corruption, which do rebel and war against the Spirit and renewed
part in them.Consider:
Galatians 5:17 For the flesh
lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are
contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
the Scriptures tell us expressly that none are without sin; and that such are
deceivers of themselves, and make God a liar, that affirms the contrary.Consider:
Ecclesiastes 7:20 For there
is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.
James 3:2 For in many things we offend all. If
any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able
also to bridle the whole body.
1 John 1:8 If we say that we
have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess
our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse
us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him
a liar, and his word is not in us.
point here is that the Bible does not teach what is called “perfectionism.”
the Scriptures hath recorded the sins of the most holy persons that have ever
and Isaac dissimulated by saying that their wives were their sisters.
deceived his father to take the blessing from his brother Esau.
swore by the life of Pharaoh (Gen 42:15).
spoke unadvisedly (Psalm 106:33).
committed adultery and murder.
and Jeremiah were impatient.
three times denied and cursed Jesus.
and Barnabas quarreled (Acts 15).
concludes:“And if such persons as
these, who were filled with the Holy Ghost, and had as great a measure of grace
as any whom we read of, either in the Scriptures, or any history, were not
perfect, without sin, we may safely conclude that no saints, in this life, have
ever attained unto absolute perfection.”