[laughed the boy]

a friend of mine from the Malaysian Younger Leaders Gathering i attended in 2006 asked me the question and so i did my best to answer it, or to at least look at some of the aspects of the question – thort it was worth posting my thorts here…

hey Debbie

greetings in the amazing name of Jesus!

thankx for the email and the encouragement and hopefully this gets to you in time altho not sure how much help it will be…

i like your ‘out of the box but still in line with scripture thinking’ line – thankx – will do my best:

“I am involved in a Bible Study and we had a very great debate last week about whether it is actually possible for Christians to get to a point in their relationship with God where they no longer sin. On one side, we had those who believe that we are never free from the sinful nature while we are on earth, so there is always the possibility that we might ‘fall into sin’. On the other side, of which I am the ringleader, we believe that “if you live by the Spirit you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature – Gal 5:16″ and this means that you will not sin: not that you will not be tempted to sin, but you will not give in to it because your desire to please God is greater than your desire to please yourself. But the others believe that only God is capable of being without sin.”

i would imagine this is a question that not so many people here have asked as generally we christians accept the fact that we are sinful as something that goes without saying and so because we are SO sinful just assume it must be the norm, but in fact i have asked this very question – i remember clearly when i was on my Youth With A Mission DTS (Discipleship training school) in Holland i wrote a thort for the week on it that i don’t think went down very well (wish i could go back and find it but not even sure if it is in the yahoo archive cos might have been still when i sent TFTW via hotmail) and sadly i don’t really have a clear answer but perhaps i can give some of my thorts… on the plus side it does seem as if there are some statements that back up the idea – there is one at the beginning of one of the peters that says we have been given everything we need for righteous and holiness or something like that – maybe it should stop being so lazy and get my Bible – one sec –

ah here – 2 peter 1.3 – His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.” – then it goes on to talk about participating in the divine nature and a little further down gives a list of add to your faith goodness and to your goodness knowledge and self-control and perseverance and so on – so for me (in maybe a frustrating kind of way) it seems to back up both sides of the answer – we have been given everything we need for godliness but keep adding this and this and this – so the potential for perfection is in our hands, but it’s a journey and there is always adding to be done… make sense?

i think Jesus came to demonstrate that it is potentially possibly to live a sinless life – if He only achieved sinlessness because He was God then does it count as being able to be representative of man? and would it be fair for God to say ‘walk perfectly but oh you can’t sorry’ – i think the Bible definitely calls us to walk in perfection in terms of what we are meant to be aiming at but then you see the example of Paul in Corinthians i think it is where he says what i want to do i dont do and what i dont want to do i do and so even he seems to be caught up in the sinful life – we see Peter after he is filled with the Spirit and doing amazing things having to be rebuked by Paul for living hypocracy in a situation with the jews and gentiles (galatians 2.11) and we see king David a man after God’s own heart sinning horrendously and losing a son because of it – so it seems as if those who walked before us didn’t manage that easily which increases the likelihood of us being the same – and i can testify from my life that i still completely mess it up in terms of priority and time usage and a lot of not doing what i should be doing and still a bunch of doing what i should not be doing – so my mind says it is possible or should be but my body and experience keeps testifying that it is still far away for me at least

i think for me the basic premise was this – if it is possible for me not to sin for 5 seconds then the 5 seconds before i die i can be said to have been living sinlessly and if i can manage 5 seconds then surely i can manage ten and then maybe 30 and then maybe two minutes and so unless i sin every moment of my life there has to be some short period where i am sinless in thort and deed – and so can’t we extend that to an hour, a number of hours, a day? etc etc – that was where i started my dts thort and so surely we can get to a place where for an x period of time we don’t sin at all and surely for some people that is days and maybe months and years – but ja there is no way of testing that and it is a bit of a silly theory i guess – the one thing i was thinking in the car last nite after reading your email and driving to vals folks house where we slept over was that maybe the moment you reach that perfection and are aware of it then pride naturally steps in cos the moment you take joy in how sinless you are (even by just realising it and smiling quietly to yourself) then that is the moment when sin has already struck? i don’t know…

i think at the end of the day it is not for us to look at ourselves and go ‘ooh look i have no sin’ or to look at others and go ‘ooh look no sin’ but it is for us to strive towards sinlessness by submitting to God and the Holy Spirit and continuing on the journey of adding to your faith goodnessand knowledge and love and perseverance etc and loving God, loving people and looking after those who need help and so at the end of the day the question of whether we can or cannot achieve it becomes largely if not completely irrelevant because it is the direction in which our compass is always aimed and that is what matters most…

hope there is some help in there – maybe just more questions than answers
much love and all the best for cell – if either side of the argument starts loving the other side of the argument less or getting heated then i think that will just prove the lack of perfection so argue nice, fight well, love harder

God bless you my friend
love brett fish