8D. Character Perfection
D. Character Perfection
It should be quite clear by now that character perfection is complete anthema to Protestant performance-based-thinking. The whole concept of character perfection screams performance and as we noted previously, the Protestant premise is: trying to keep the law is legalism. In the next section I will examine the concepts of legalism more fully. For now let’s look again at the five levels of thinking typical of Protestant thought.
This belief structure will have to twist every statement in Scripture regarding victory over sin. The inherent life source and value system demand it. None of the main Protestant churches that I know of, teach that we can have a victorious Christian life in this world. They simply don’t have the doctrinal framework to support it.
From my personal experience and study the Adventist church is confused on this issue. Our typical belief structure looks like this:
We have previously discussed the underlying issues of perfection through the concepts of righteousness by faith. The undetected layers prevent the total freedom of victory in Christ. Currently we either change the doctrine of perfection to maturity and encourage ourselves that we do our best and “Christ makes up the rest” or we focus on other people’s sins to avoid thinking about our own. Again in terms of history this is a pendulum swing. Fifty years ago, the press for perfection was much higher and so was the despair level and fear. These traits don’t make for happy holy Christians.
But since we capitulated to the evangelicals on the atonement and investigative judgment, it is inevitable that we would sooner or later do the same with this teaching also and swing the other way.
It is so sad that it has to be this way. A correct understanding of life source and value system makes it not only a possibility but a joyous certainty. Christ in you the hope of glory, what a wonderful thought. For the many times I have heard people tell me they will sin until Jesus comes, I wonder if they are comfortable about living apart from a close relationship with Jesus and whether it bothers them at all the pain it causes their Saviour. We may stumble and fall along the way, but to justify sin by saying, “we will sin until Jesus comes, you can’t be perfect” is so very sad.
A plain reading of the Bible is clear:
1 Jo Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.
Gal I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
Tit Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;
2Co 10:5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
Jud Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,
1Pe 4:1 Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin;
2Pe 1:3-4 According as his Divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the Divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
We could list more, but to any candid reader it is fairly plain. Those who still hold performance-based-thinking will twist these texts into the objective work of Christ only and this is how God sees you through Jesus. But I would rather believe God’s prophets:
“"The prince of this world cometh," said Jesus, "and hath nothing in Me." John 14:30. There was in Him nothing that responded to Satan's sophistry. He did not consent to sin. Not even by a thought did He yield to temptation. So it may be with us. Christ's humanity was united with Divinity; He was fitted for the conflict by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. And He came to make us partakers of the Divine nature. So long as we are united to Him by faith, sin has no more dominion over us. God reaches for the hand of faith in us to direct it to lay fast hold upon the Divinity of Christ, that we may attain to perfection of character.” DA 123
“None need fail of attaining, in his sphere, to perfection of Christian character. By the sacrifice of Christ, provision has been made for the believer to receive all things that pertain to life and godliness. God calls upon us to reach the standard of perfection and places before us the example of Christ's character. In His humanity, perfected by a life of constant resistance of evil, the Saviour showed that through co-operation with Divinity, human beings may in this life attain to perfection of character. This is God's assurance to us that we, too, may obtain complete victory.” AA 531
Isn’t it wonderful to know that when I embrace relational-based-thinking, God’s commandments are 10 promises and that Christ’s victory is mine. I can commune with Him as Enoch and Daniel did of old. What a wonderful hope to know I can stop hurting my friends and family through Christ who strengthens me.
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