18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. Romans 7:18-20
Sunday, July 10, 2011
I'm currently reading this book (available at RHB) and came across the term "Christian Perfectionism," a doctrine of John Wesley's and still believed by churches such as the Free Methodists. I found a good explanation here. Christian perfectionism is also referred to as total sanctification, where a Christian is totally sanctified with the ability not to sin. As Calvinists, we believe that Christians still sin in thought, word and in deed and are not totally sanctified until eternal glory. John Wesley responded to this by saying that totally sanctified Christians still had defections that needed the atoning blood of Christ, but these were not sins since he said they were involuntary, and only voluntary actions would be sins. At first glance, this doctrine may seem like a mincing of words. John Wesley is distinguishing between what he calls sins and defects, while we Calvinists call everything sins. However, for Christians with weak assurance, this would be a dangerous thing to believe and would be grounds for great despair. How can one be assured of his salvation while believing in perfectionism while he continues to sin, no matter how hard he tries not to? We do not have the strength in and of ourselves to combat sin, all of our actions are stained with sin. But how wonderful it is to know that we don't need to find the strength within ourselves, He is willing and more than able to give strength and grace to us. John Wesley seems to forget that as long as we live on this earth, our sinful nature still lives with us.