Biblical Perfection – By Peter Wiseman

Chapter 5

Perfection Obtained

Perfection By What Means?

There are many theories as to how this Christian experience of perfection may be obtained.

There is the old theory of growth, but growth does not change the nature of the thing or person growing. It is therefore ruled out, for there is in this experience a change in nature necessary.

There is the theory of suppression. In the sense of victory over sin in all its forms and manifestations from the time of the “new birth”, “regeneration,” this is true, as we have seen. In this connection, however, I John 2:1 should be kept in mind. “If any man sin,” argues the probability that it may happen, though not “on the time table,” as one has expressed it. In case it may occur, there is here the emergency clause.

Suppression in the sense of keeping under the human body (I Cor. 9:27) is a necessity; not the body of sin, for it cannot be subjected (Rom. 8:7), but it can and should be laid aside, discarded (Heb. 12:1).

There is the holy in Christ theory. To accept Christ is to be holy in Christ. Christ being holy, God the Father sees Him and us through Him, though not our sinful conditions. The great weakness of this theory is the lack of a place for Scriptural cleansing from sin.

“There is the theory of counteraction of the principle of sin and death through the principle of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.”

The weakness of this theory may be seen in the fact that it fails to offer deliverance from “the principle of sin and death” in the Scriptural way. According to this theory the war within between two natures, between “the law of sin” and “the law of the mind” must go on throughout life, but the idea of counteraction by the Spirit of life assures victory.

That is good as far as it goes but is there not the victory of deliverance “from the body of this death” (Romans 7:24, 25), victory of freedom from “the law of sin and death” (Rom. 8:2)?

Then, again, how could one love God with all his heart, with all his soul, with all his strength, with all his mind and his neighbor as himself with this inward battle going on all the time? There is surely a release, a deliverance “from”, in order for greater service to God and humanity.

There is the Comforting Scriptural provision of cleansing (Psa. 51:7; Ezek. 36:25; I John 1:9); purging (Psa. 51:7; John 15:2); purifying (Acts 15:8, 9).

Is there habitation? Yes, for He has said, “I will dwell in them and walk in them,” but this last statement indicates a state rather than an instantaneous act of God, whereas the act precedes the state. One must get into Canaan before he can dwell in the land. Then, too, there must be first; the negative; then, the positive, the filling: “Put off . . . the old man and put on the new man ” (Eph. 4:22-24). “Instantaneous purifying (aorist) their hearts by faith” (Acts 15:9). There can be no habitation without crucifixion and death. “I have been crucified . . . I live no longer. Christ liveth in me” (Gal. 2:20). That is the order which leads to habitation. Sin removed by cleansing, purging, is the position of Arminian Theology without any extreme notions. The word eradication has been greatly misunderstood and misinterpreted, so that to use it, certainly involves explanation. [24]

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Perfection Obtained Through Agencies

God the Father is the One who does the work through various agents. They are as follows:

1. The source is God the Father: “The very God of peace sanctify you wholly” (I Thess. 5:23). “Sanctify you through and through” (Phillips’ Version).

2. The sacrificial agent is the Saviour: “Wherefore Jesus also that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered without the gate” (Heb. 13:12). “Sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Heb. 10:10). “By one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified” (Heb. 10:14). In this last passage the writer exalts the glorious provision of Christ Jesus, the supreme and never failing efficacy to sanctify.

3. The sacred Scriptures the instrument agent: “Sanctify them through thy truth: Thy word is truth” John 17:17). “Purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit” (I Peter 1:22).

4. The Spirit of God the administrative agent: “Sanctified by the Holy Ghost” (Rom. 15:16). “Through sanctification of the Spirit” (II Thess. 2:13).

5. The sanctifying faith of the believing soul, the conditional agent, the faith that sanctifies: “Purifying their hearts by faith” (Acts 15:9). “Sanctified by faith” (Acts 26:18).

With regard to the way of the obtainment of this love, John makes two startling statements: John 2:5, “But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected; hereby know we that we are in him”; and in chapter four, verse twelve, he says: “If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and His love is perfected in us.”

“If by faith,” says Mr. Wesley, “it is attainable now.”

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Perfection In Hymns

“Let us, to perfect love restored, Thy image here retrieve, And in the presence of our Lord. The life of angels live.

“On one the faith divine bestow, Which doth the mountain move, And all my spotless life shall show, The omnipotence of love.

“Come, Saviour, come, and make me whole! Entirely all my sins remove; To perfect health restore my soul, To perfect holiness and love.

“Since Thou wouldst have us free from sin, And pure as those above, Make haste to bring thy nature in, And perfect us in love.”

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“O glorious hope of perfect love! It lifts me up to things above; It bears on eagles’ wings; It gives my ravished soul a taste,. And makes me for some moments feast With Jesus’ priests and kings.

“Rejoicing now in earnest hope, I stand, and from the mountain-top See all the land below: Rivers of milk and honey rise, And all the fruits of paradise In endless plenty grow.

“A land of corn and wine and oil, Favored with God’s peculiar smile, With every blessing blest; There dwells the Lord our Righteousness,

And keep his own in perfect peace, And everlasting rest.

“O that I might at once go up; No more on this side Jordan stop, But now the land possess; This moment end my legal years, Sorrows and sins and doubts and fears, A howling wilderness!

“Now, O my Joshua, bring me in! Cast out thy foes; the inbred sin, The carnal mind remove; The purchase of thy death divide, And, oh, with all the sanctified Give me a lot of love!”

— Charles Wesley.

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“He wills that I should holy be; That holiness I long to feel; That full divine conformity To all my Saviour’s righteous will.

“See, Lord, the travail of thy soul Accomplished in the change of mine; And plunge me, every whit made whole, In all the depths of love divine.

“On thee, O God, my soul is stayed, And waits to prove thine utmost will; The promise by thy mercy made, Thou canst, thou wilt, in me fulfill..

“No more I stagger at thy power, Or doubt thy truth, which cannot move; Hasten the long-expected hour, And bless me with thy perfect love.”

— Charles Wesley.

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“Jesus, thy boundless love to me

No thought can reach, no tongue declare: O knit my thankful heart to thee, And reign without a rival there: Thine wholly, thine alone I am; Be thou alone my constant flame.

“O grant that nothing in my soul May dwell, but thy pure love alone: O may thy love possess me whole, My joy, my treasure and my crown: Strange flames far from my heart remove, My every act, word, thought, be love.

“Unwearied may I this pursue; Dauntless to the high prize aspire; Hourly within my soul renew This holy flame, this heavenly fire: And day and night, be all my care To guard the sacred treasure there.

“In suffering be thy love my peace; In weakness be thy love my power; And when the storms of life shall cease, Jesus, in that important hour, In death as life be thou my guide, And save me, who for me hast died.”

— Paul Gerhardt, translated by John Wesley.

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“‘Tis done! Thou doest this moment save, With full salvation bless: Redemption through thy blood I have And spotless love and peace.”