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By Pastor T. Basil Sturrup
Not long ago a dear friend sent me an email stating how he believes that it is possible to attain human perfection, and the ability to live a sinless life in this present world. I read the email with interest, and responded with my views on the subject. To prove his point, he stated what Jesus said in Matthew 5:48 “Be ye perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect,” and he also referenced the fact that the Bible says that Job was perfect (Job 1:1), and that Noah was perfect. (Genesis 6:9).
My friend’s email gave me a wonderful opportunity to show the importance of the need to have a sound Bible teacher. As you are reading this article, the issue of perfection, and having sinless flesh is being discussed in many circles throughout our conference. So, let us begin by conversing about the references of perfection made with regard to Job, and Noah. Although the Bible refer to them as perfect men, all you have to do is read the stories of Noah and Job, and you will discover that their characters are far away from what we would define as perfection within the context of our discussion. In fact, the Hebrew word used to describe Job and Noah as perfect is best translated as the blameless, however, the context refers to one who has been declared by God as blameless (or justified). The word does not suggest that these men had no sin, or that they made no mistakes, it means that righteousness was imputed to them by a merciful God.
So why would Jesus say the His audience who heard His longest sermon recorded in the Bible, “Be ye perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect,” (Matthew 5:48) if He does not expect us to be perfect? Firstly, we know that these words are not to be taken literally because, for us to be perfect as God is perfect, He would have to lower His standard of perfection in order for us to reach it (which is something He cannot do), or we would have to become God in order to attain it, (which is something we cannot do). However, as we study the context of the scripture, and get a basic understanding of the Greek language is saying, it will be easy to comprehend what is going on here.
The words of Jesus stated in Matthew 5:48 is called a concluding exhortation. It is a reflection on the immediately preceding words spoken in Matthew 5:21-47 where we are instructed to love everybody (including our enemies) the way God loves them. The call here is to strive for perfection with respect to the subject under discussion “which is love,” just as our Father in heaven perfect in love. The context of this passage is not to be understood in the sense in which some persons preach the doctrine of perfection. Jesus is addressing the subject of love, and the concluding exhortation is, if you are the children of God (as you say you are), then follow the model of your heavenly Father who is perfect in love.
Does this mean that we should not seek and desire to experience perfection of character? Absolutely not! The Apostle Paul says that “… it is important to control of our bodies, and to keep it under subjection …” 1 Corinthians 9:27. Ellen G. White in her book Our High Calling p. 235 also comments on the subject of perfection as something we should aim to reach. She says: “Christ presents before us the highest perfection of Christian character, which throughout our lifetime we should aim to reach.... Concerning this perfection Paul writes: “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after.... I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” Philippians 3:12-15. This means that it is a worthy pursuit, but is it really possible?
Let us conclude our conversation by addressing the issue of the possibility of overcoming sin, and my understanding of what the Bible teaches about it. Allow me to use a scripture I believe speaks directly to this subject; 1 John 3:9. “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin. For His seed remaineth in Him, and He cannot sin, because He is born of God.” There it is, the Bible says that man who is born of God cannot sin! End of discussion. Not quite.
Let’s look at this passage carefully. Once again, we must consider the context of the scripture for the Bible verse to be understood. In the preceding verse, John states that everyone that doeth sin is of the Devil, 1 John 3:8. In verse 9, he is stating the opposite truth, which is, everyone who rejects sin is of God. Earlier in this article I stated how important it is to have a sound Bible teacher, or to obtain for yourself a basic understanding of the Bible languages because it helps to clarify what might confuse the surface reader of the scriptures. So, what does the Bible say? In the Greek text, 1 John 3:9 the passage of scripture does not say “οὐ δύναται ἁμαρτεῖν," a man cannot commit a sin." The Geek text actually says; οὐ δύναται ἁμαρτάνειν, the man who is born of God "cannot be a sinner." There is a difference.
John’s point is that the man who is born of God cannot sin willfully, or presumptuously. (Romans 13:14, Ephesians 2:10). In other words, sin is something Christians have no desire to do! Sinning is not part of our lifestyle because we love God, and His grace now controls our lives. (2 Corinthians 5:17). My understanding of the subject is that there is a complete difference between the impossibility of committing an act of sin, and living a sinful life, and what the Christian experiences is the latter. (1 John 1: 8&10). All of the scriptures used in this article acknowledges that it is possible for the Christian to make a mistake (or to commit a singular act of sin), however, these same Bible text also teach that it is impossible for a man to be born of God and lead a life full of sinful practices. This is why John tells us that God has already made provision in advance for Christians “if” we sin. “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” 1 John 2:1-2. May God help us, to let our lights shine, and to demonstrate that we are people who are "born of God."
T. Basil Sturrup, MA, is the pastor of the Good News Seventh-day Adventist Church, off Carmichael Road, Nassau, The Bahamas. He is passionate about evangelism and sharing the gospel.
This is a resource page for pastors and church leaders dealing seeking to implement the Child Protection Plan in churches. The information is taken from Adventist Risk Management website
Safeguarding Children - Church should be a safe place to bring our children. Everyone involved with children who are minors must meet all Church and legal standards and requirements. In order to safeguard our children, churches are encouraged to adopt policies that would provide a measure of safety and protection for children. Such policies should include the following:
Local church leaders should consult with the conference in order to ascertain conference procedures and requirements, including local legal requirements for individuals working with children. Source: 2010 Church Manual pages. 167 - 168
HERE ARE TWO VIDEOS WE PREPARED TO SHOW IN CHURCHES OR TRAINING OF LEADERS:
WHO TO CALL FOR VETTING? -- Info to come
WHO TO CALL FOR REPORT? -- Info to come
"I was in prison and you visited me" Matthew 25:36
The Women's Ministries Department of the South Bahamas Conference of Seventh-day Adventists will be visiting the female ward of The Bahamas Correctional Facility (formally called "Her Majesty's Prison") on Sabbath, August 19, 2017. There are about 50 females and 1500 males in the facility. Adventist pastors and special members visit the facility weekly to minister to the inmates.
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