Christian PerfectionChristian Perfection
A Christian Living Book Series from Guide to Kingdom Living

True Christian living requires us to live according to Kingdom standards which bring Heaven to earth.

Christian Perfection
Chapter 19B - Making a Mistake

A commentary on John Wesley's A Plain Account of Christian Perfection
By: Frank L. Hoffman
Jesus said, "Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."
(Matthew 5:48)
(Wesley's writings are in bold)

In this part of "A Plain Account of Christian Perfection", we again find John Wesley defending the simple truth before those who don't want to accept it.  The whole intent of the Bible in relation to sin is that we should not sin.  It's that simple.  And, if we do sin, we are to go forth and sin no more (John 8:11).  We are to grow and mature into the state of perfecting God's love within us.  In such a state we do not deliberately commit a sin (an act of commission), though we may still make a mistake or unintentially sin (an act of omission).

"Question.  What was the judgment of all our brethren who met at Bristol in August, 1758, on this head?

"Answer.  It was expressed in these words:

(1) Everyone may mistake as long as he lives.

(2) A mistake in opinion may occasion a mistake in practice.

(3) Every such mistake is a transgression of the perfect law. Therefore,

(4) every such mistake, were it not for the blood of atonement, would expose to eternal damnation.

(5) It follows that the most perfect have continual need of the merits of Christ, even for their actual transgressions, and may say for themselves, as well as for their brethren: 'Forgive us our trespasses' [Matthew 6:12a].

The key to understanding this is that a critical component of asking God to forgive us is the degree to which we forgive others (Matthew 6:12).  From the Scriptures, it appears that we receive forgiveness only to the extent that we forgive others.  Note what we are told in Matthew 6:14-15.

14 "For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.

15 "But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions. NASU

Let's go back to Wesley's comments.

"This easily accounts for what might otherwise seem to be utterly unaccountable, namely, that those who are not offended when we speak of the highest degree of love, yet will not hear of living without sin.  The reason is they know all men are liable to mistake, and that in practice as well as in judgment.  But they do not know, or do not observe, that this is not sin, if love is the sole principle of action.

I sense a tone of almost continual frustration coming forth in Wesley's writings on the subject of Christian Perfection.  His precept is so simple, but presenting it and having it accepted is like jousting with windmills.  People seem to understand that they sin, but they don't want to be classified as sinners, so they try to find excuses for their actions. 

Such people want to be covered by God's grace and forgiveness, but they don't seem to want to strive to go forth and sin no more as Jesus told the woman who was caught in adultery (John 8:11).  The simple act of striving to go forth and sin no more is reaching for Christian Perfection.  The very desire to go forth and sin no more is, to me, a sign that God's love is being perfected in us.

When Mary and I tell people about the atrocities we have observed and read about being inflicted upon the vast majority of farmed animals, the first response we usually get is, "Don't tell me!"  Such a reaction most likely is brought about because these people don't want to acknowledge their part in causing such horrible pain and suffering.  They don't want to be reminded that every time they buy an animal's flesh or by-product, they are putting money in the hands of the abusers.  The more money these "farmers" and industries make, the more animals they cause to suffer and die.

Nowhere in the Bible do we find any justification for deliberately abusing a human or an animal.  Thus, to do so is a premeditated sin: a state far from the perfection of God. 

The Bible also teaches us to treat our slaves with kindness, but it does not condemn human slavery.  Yet we have matured enough to know that keeping slaves in a sin, and the institution of slavery has been abolished in Jewish and Christian societies.  People said that our society couldn't exist without slavery, and they were proved wrong.  One day, hopefully in the near future, we will find that the same truism applies to farmed animals, and we will mature even closer to being perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect.

Go on to: Chapter 19C - If They Live Without Sin...
Return to: Christian Perfection Table of Contents
Return to: Christian Living Table of Contents

Peaceable Kingdom
The prophet Isaiah reached out in the Spirit of God and saw the perfection of God reestablished in the Peaceable Kingdom, and he wrote (Isaiah 11:6-9 NASV):

And the wolf will dwell with the lamb,
And the leopard will lie down with the kid,
And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together;
And a little boy will lead them.
Also the cow and the bear will graze;
Their young will lie down together;
And the lion will eat straw like the ox.
And the nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra,
And the weaned child will put his hand on the viper's den.
They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain,
For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord
As the waters cover the sea.