The Biggest Lie

Do not buy into the biggest lie the world is selling today. What is it, you ask? Well, it comes in many forms and phrases. Often it lingers as an idea rather than spoken words. Sometimes it is perpetuated through actions, even when no one says it or thinks it. But, most commonly, it comes out sounding like this: “Nobody is perfect.”

How many times have you heard this? How many times have you said it? Well, stop believing it and definitely stop saying it; it is false.

I know what you would say next (if this were not a blog, obviously). You would say something like, “But, everybody makes mistakes,” or, “Everybody sins.” And, you would be absolutely right (excepting Jesus, of course). But these truths (see Romans 3:23) do not make the statement, “Nobody is perfect,” anything more than a lie. Let me tell you why.

First, some people are perfect–not because they have never made a mistake or will never again, but simply because God has made them perfect. Hebrews 10:14 says, “For by a single offering [Christ] has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” (ESV) I do not know how God did it, but He made a way for us to be perfect through the crucifixion of His Son, Jesus. All I know is that God says that our sins, imperfections, record of wrongs, whatever you want to call all of the rebellious thoughts and acts that have piled up to disgrace and pollute our souls, have been removed. The Bible says they are washed away (Acts 22:16), they are nailed to the cross (Colossians 2:14), erased (Acts 3:19), forgiven (Acts 2:38), and forgotten (Hebrews 8:12). If the imperfections are gone…then that leaves perfection. Some people are perfect.

Second, the phrase “Nobody is perfect” is a lie because it is typically used as an excuse. An excuse is not the same thing as a lie, you say? What about when Christians use the excuse of financial giving to get out of hands-on service? What about when believers quote Jesus, saying, “Judge not lest ye be judged,” because they do not want to face the vices and problem areas of their lives? What about when those who claim to follow Christ say that Christianity is all about the heart in order to justify not going to church? Even generally true statements and ideas can be lies if they are used as excuses, or to justify wrong. Satan worked this magic with Eve when he told her that the fruit would give her knowledge. [Genesis 3:5] It was a truth that brought death. It was a truth used to deceive. It was a truth that became a lie. And, so, satan is called the “father of lies.” [John 8:44]

Satan is still at it today. “Nobody is perfect” is nearly always used as an excuse for our mistakes and our sins. “Well, sure I have a problem with my language, but nobody is perfect.” “I know I shouldn’t be watching that, but nobody is perfect.” We throw it around as if the imperfections and sins of others make our sins tolerable and somehow better. We use a truth to deceive ourselves.

But, here is the real truth: Jesus said, “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” [Matthew 5:48] Peter wrote (quoting God’s challenge in Leviticus 11:44), “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” [1Peter 1:15-16] Paul said, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children,” before he told us that “the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.” [Ephesians 5:1 and 6]

Do not sell yourself and God short. You do not have a perfect past, but you can have a perfect future. You cannot undo what you have already done…only God can do that. But, you can be perfect and sinless from this point forward. Jesus proved it could be done. And, do you remember what Paul said in 1Corinthians 10:13 about God providing a way of escape with every temptation? That means that there is no time that you do not have a choice about sin. And, since you have a choice every time you are tempted, then you can make the right choice every time from now on; you can be sinless. We can be perfect…if we do not buy into the lie.

So, we can be perfect from now on…but will we? Probably not. It is likely that we will still stumble, that we will have a lapse in memory or a lapse in judgment. But, it does not have to happen. And we must not make excuses when it does.

Fortunately, if and when we do sin again, the blood of Jesus can cleanse us of those sins, too, if we are walking in the light. [1John 1:7]

In the words of Paul: “let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” [Galatians 6:9] God has done amazing things for us. The least we can do is pursue holy, blameless, and perfect lives before Him. Aim high and see what happens.

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17 thoughts on “The Biggest Lie

  1. Clint i totally agree with you.Someone once said ‘neva allow your past dictate your future…’ Many times even as believers,we allow a sense of sin and guilt keep us from God’s presence and His love. Thanks for publishing these truths for all to see.

  2. Soulsnatcher…
    We do allow guilt to keep us down…we also use God’s grace and our tendency to make mistakes as licenses to sin. We have to understand that it is our sins that got us in trouble in the first place, so we need to do all that we can to stay away from sin now. Thanks for your thoughts and encouragement.
    Clint

  3. Dear brother Clint,

    Thank you for this post! I was contemplating a similar one, but found yours first. I believe this is precisely why the church today is so weak and non-evangelical.

    I get literally sick to my stomach with grief when I hear Christians say things like “I sin intentionally every day, and so do you.” I am very glad to see you make the point “since you have a choice every time you are tempted, then you can make the right choice every time from now on; you can be sinless. We can be perfect…if we do not buy into the lie.”

    There is a big difference in my opinion (and God’s) between intentional and unintentional sin. Intentional sin is disobedience through a an intelligent choice. You choose to lie rather than tell the truth and that, I believe, is what John refers to as a sin unto death (1 John 5;16). I believe sins not unto death are those that are referred to in scripture as stumbling and falling into sin. These are strong references to sins we have been tricked into committing or have become weak enough in faith to fall prey to. It does not indicate an inability to live holy lives, like so many today believe.

    You are absolutely right to say that many use every excuse they can to commit knowing and deliberate sin. This is “practicing sin” and the end of such is death.

    Thank you for standing against this lie of “nobody is perfect.” No one is perfect in every sense, but we are to “make every effort to have him find you without spot or fault and at peace.” 2 Peter 3:14

  4. Well done my brother and friend. Did Jesus believe the woman caught in adultery in John 8:11 could “…from now on sin no more.” ESV? Or the former invalid in John 5:14 – Jesus said, “sin no more” – did He believe he could do it? Does Jesus reallyy believe I can do it too??? Moses said, this commandment “is not too hard for you,” Deut 32:11. Has my God really given me all I need for life and godliness (see 2 Pet 1:2-4)? Could it all be true? YES – I do have a choice! God, give me strength to always choose wisely…to all choose YOU!!!

  5. ProdigalKnot –
    I agree completely…the sin unto death would be intentional rebellion, throwing disobedience in God’s face. The old Law called this sinning with a “high hand” (Numbers 15:30-31). I am convinced that this hole concept is what is meant by “walking in the light.” [1John 1:7] It doesn’t mean sinlessness because then we wouldn’t need the continual cleansing of Jesus blood…I believe it means keeping your eyes on God even when you fail, make mistakes, etc….
    Anyway, thanks for the comments.

  6. Dennis –
    Hey brother…how’s Cambodia…no, wait, let me guess….hot and muggy. Right?

    Thanks for bringing up Deuteronomy. I wanted to go there, where Moses says the Law was not too hard…but I didn’t want to get wrapped up in old covenant stuff when I was addressing new covenant. But, it is a very good point…even the letter of the Law given to Israel was not too hard for them…they just refused to keep it. The same is true today.

    Thanks for sending us your newsletters…we enjoy reading about what you are up to. Keep them coming.

    In Christ,
    Clint

  7. To add to the already lengthy Scripture list: Rom 6.1-4 (we are to very blunty that we died to sin and cannot live in it any longer); and 1 John 2.1, 6 (where we are told to walk as Jesus walked and Jesus walked perfectly).

    Finally someone said it. But let me ask this question: When God commands the ideal (perfection) is it only attainable in the “theoretical” and not in the “practical?” This is something that I have heard one preacher say in the past but it sounds like another “excuse” or rationalization.

  8. Great post Clint!

    This reminds me of a local Baptist preacher who told a 16 boy that after he was saved he could do anything he wants and he would never be lost. Perfection should be the goal of every Christian and when I hear preachers like this Baptist preacher telling someone that they can do as they please…very scary !

    Randy

  9. Clint,

    I don’t have access to the Greek, but maybe you do. Do you know if the perfect/perfected/perfection of the verses you quoted is the same as the “perfect” of 1 Corinthians 13:10?

    I know that “perfect” in 1 Corinthians 13:10 means “complete”. I’ve always taken the verses that mention the “perfection” of Christians to mean that we are to become “complete” – fully given to Christ. This brings to mind what Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3: 16All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

    I guess I’m wondering if the perfection we’re striving for is not sinless perfection like Christ (which is not possible) but completion – to be as much like Him as is humanly possible (knowing His doctrine, able to reproof, correct and teach)?

  10. Corey,

    My first question would be…what does it mean to be complete, or “fully given to Christ,” as you put it? Would that not mean fully devoted, fully obedient, fully trusting? And wouldn’t that mean that we are not fully obedient until we are completely lacking in disobedience, otherwise known as sin? After all, Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” [Jn 14:15]

    Second question: where does Scripture ever say that sinless perfection is not humanly possible? Where does Scripture ever indicate that we are to strive to be like Christ, but not in His sinlessness?

    Third question: Wasn’t Jesus human? If so, then didn’t he show that it was humanly possible to be perfect, since Hebrews 4:15 says He was tempted in every way just like us, but without sin? (Hebrews 2:17-18 also says He had to become like us in every way)

    Yes, Matthew 5:48 and 1Cor 13:10 use the same word for “perfect” or “complete.” Hebrews 10:14 actually uses the same word, but a slightly different, perhaps stronger, version of it. There can be no doubt that the word used (teleios) refers to completion. This is why the word is sometimes used to speak of maturity… because a child reaching the status of mature adult represents the completion of a process, achievement of a goal. But the primary idea is still completion, and we have to consider what completion for the Christian would look like. The answer, of course, is that completion would look like Christ for those who are striving to be conformed to His image. And, Christ was sinless. Our transformation will never be complete until we are perfect like Christ.

    Now, that will probably never happen for most (maybe all?) Christians in their lifetimes. But, nevertheless, it is the goal given to us by Jesus and by the Father…to be perfect and holy like God, to “put to death” what is earthly in us, sin [Col 3:5].

  11. Nick,

    You asked if pefection is only theoretical rather than practical. I know your answer is probably the same as mine…but I don’t even really understand how this could be or what it could mean. If I am to be perfect theoretically…does that mean that it is the ideal I am to strive for, but it is okay if I don’t make it? Now, I can almost go with that definition, because at least one would be striving for perfection. But if it means that it is okay for me to stop trying to be sinless, then that is ridiculous and unscriptural.

    To me, practical perfection can be the only logical understanding of the perfection ideal given to us in Scripture. It means that Jesus meant what He said when He said that we are to be perfect like the Father. It means that Peter meant what he said when he said we are to be as holy as God.

    I think, as you suggested, that calling this ideal theoretical is an excuse. We look around and are hard-pressed to find anyone reaching it. We know of our own sins, and that we have a long ways to go in achieving perfection. So, we conclude based on our take on human nature that sinless perfection is not possible.

    Here’s a problem with that understanding, though, from a theological standpoint: if it is not possible for us to be sinless then God has no right to judge us for being sinful because He made us unable to be sinless. If I have no choice but to sin, then why does God judge me? That does not make sense…it isn’t just…and God, we are told, is a just God.

    But, what do you think?

  12. Clint,

    I don’t want you to think that I disagree with what you’ve written here, because I totally agree with you. When I used to manage a restaurant many of the employees used the phrase “nobody is perfect” as an excuse for every mistake. My response was, “well, some people never try!”

    What I was getting at with my comments is that while the scriptures give us the goal of perfection/completion, they also seem to let us know that we won’t always reach that goal. John wrote, to Christians, “If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”

    I don’t think this should be an excuse, but it helps us to acknowledge that we need a sinless savior to forgive the sins we commit. If we could live a sinless life it seems we may not appreciate the one who did and who cleanses us of our sins. It also seems like we would be puffed up with pride in our own righteousness, losing sight of the fact that it is Jesus alone that can make us righteous.

    I think that Job is a great example for us. We look at all that he went through without sinning. To be content with sinning every day is in total opposition to the passages you pointed out. We can go long periods of time without sinning. To try to totally eradicate it from our lives should be the goal of every Christian as we seek to be perfect/complete.

    It is difficult to express exactly what I want to say on this. I guess I view our commandment to be perfect as our Father is perfect like this:

    You are a swimmer and your coach tells you to always swim to win the race. Every time you go to a swim meet your competition is Michael Phelps. You constantly train as hard as you can. You get better and stronger every time you go into the water, and eventually you are able to beat Phelps on a regular basis. You always swim to win, regardless of how overwhelming your competition can seem, but sometimes you just can’t beat Michael Phelps. Just because your competition is so great doesn’t mean that your coach will ever be satisfied with you losing, so you do all you can to win, knowing that your coach is able to make you into one who can beat Phelps if you stay with him.

    Maybe that is a poor example and I’ve fallen short of expressing myself again. Regardless, I enjoyed your article and thank you for your thoughts.

    Corey

  13. Corey,

    I agree…we have to be careful that we don’t get the attitude that we are sinless, that we can’t make mistakes. We can’t rely on ourselves, but on God…and it is only through God, by the way, that I believe sinless perfection is attainable for a human being.

    Still…I disagree with your illustration…or at least the conclusions of your illustration. For a swimmer it would not be enough to beat Phelps now and then…a true athlete would want to strive to be the best…to be perfect…which would mean beating Phelps (and every other competitor) all the time. A sincere Christ-follower will not be satisfied winning a few battles over Satan…their goal would be to win every battle. And, again, Paul says that it is possible because God provides a way of escape with every temptation…we can win every battle.

    I believe I understand what you’re getting at, though…we can’t lose our reliance on Christ. I agree, and believe that if we ever get to the point that we think we’ve acheived perfection then we have just lost it. Humility has a very important place in all of this. But, my point is that God would not ask the impossible of us. We have a responsibility to strive for the standard that He has given for our lives: Jesus Christ, sinless perfection.

    Thanks for your thoughts. I appreciate the discussion.

    Clint

  14. Corey,

    Let me also add…
    I believe God appreciates and responds to the struggle, to our efforts to achieve perfection through reliance on Him. I believe that this is the kind of sincerity that pleases God, what the Old Testament called “righteousness,” and what the New Testament calls “faith.” Every time, God will choose those who battle and lose over those who don’t battle at all. I think this is what you were getting at in your illustration, and I appreciate this point and your picture of it…especially the part about trusting the coach to make you a winner, which implies always giving your best.

  15. Great follow-p comments! We have to be careful we don’t fall into Pharisaic perfection, thinking we are better than other Christians because of our “sinlessness”. I believe God reveals our sinfulness to us gradually. First we see our outward, obvious sins when we are converted. As time goes on we see that we are selfish, proud, jealous, impatient, rude, etc. and God convicts us of these things until we get a grip on them. I agree with you that the Bible never says we “have to sin”, but we also have to remember that no matter how good we feel we’ve become, we are seeking for the righteousness that is “in Christ” and not the righteousness of “law keeping”.

  16. Yeah, I am pretty much in line with what you said about my comment. Certainly the struggle for the Christian is in the flesh and many would run to Rom 7 and say “the good I will to do, I do not…” and say “there you go, the flesh gives in and the perfection we are called to is theoretical because of the flesh.”

    But your comment on Jesus: he was 100% human just as we are, yet was without sin. The practical side of perfection, then, to me, is attainable. We can live a life that chooses not to sin, not as some kind of legalistic “law-keeping” but in humble realization that God went a long way to get me a righteous standing before, forgiveness of past sins, and I don’t want to do anything that would ruin or hinder my relationship with God. Just like Jesus…

  17. Good message of truth. Though we are not perfect, believers have the power that raised Christ from the dead living in them. And by that power, we are enabled to live the perfect life. Although we will always battle our flesh, Christ did not die to free us from some sins. He died to put all sins under our feet. We just need to draw near to him and to hide his word in our heart. He gives us the strength to stay on the path he as ser for us.

    http://www.mlordi.wordpress.com

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