John Wesley: Chrisitan Perfection
Perfection is what some people, and not necessarily just Christian people, strive for all their lives. I believe, along with Wesley, that a Christian can live a perfect life, but it does not happen right at salvation but that it is a continual work. I believe the order of a Christian’s walk is salvation, justification(sanctification), the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, and then perfection. I plan to prove that Christians can live a perfect life and that it can be achieved before death.
A person goes to the alter in church and gives their life over to God. I believe this is the most exciting thing that can happen in a person’s life, but what comes after salvation. Does all the habits of smoking, foul language, having premarital sex, or drinking just go away? I believe that all of the old habits a person has in them are still there but there but God has instilled His power into their lives that they may have the power to overcome it, and to get rid of it. “Let your soul be filled withso entire a love to Him, that you may love nothing but for His sake. Have a pure intention of heart, a steadfast regard to His glory in all your actions.” (Wesley 8) People expect a person to get saved and to become a perfect person just because of one prayer that lasted about five minutes or less, but I believe that it is a work that takes years to accomplish in your life. I grew up in the Church of God denomination in where we believe in the seperate work of sanctification. I have always grown up believing that you could live a perfect, sinless life. I have always wanted to get to that point of where I don’t want to sin anymore and that I don’t have any real struggle with it because Jesus has filled my heart, my mind, and my soul so much that I don’t have room or any time for anything else.
What exactly is a perfect Christian? John Wesley describes it as “one who loves the Lord his God with all his heart, with all his soul, with all his mind, and with all his strength. God is the joy of his heart, and the desire of his soul, which is continually crying….. His is therefore happy in God; yea, always happy; as having in Him a well of water springing up into everlasting life, and overflowing his soul with peace and joy.” (Wesley 11) A perfect Christian is one that has love for everyone. God’s love is perfect love so he should allow God’s love to shine through without hindering it by being prejudice or hateful towards another person because of the way they look or act. He allows God’s love in him to shine out to let others see and feel the love of God in his life. With this love he is always praying and keeping God’s commandments. Perfect love also equals perfect obedience to whatever God’s word says or that the Holy Spirit impresses you to do or say.
To be perfect doesn’t mean that a person is unable to make mistakes, be wrong, or to have infirmities in the body, but these are faults of the body and are not considered to be sin as sin is described in the Bible. I don’t believe that anyone person can be perfect as in regards to being without faults or mistakes that is associated with being just plain human. “I believe there is no such perfection in this life as excludes these involuntary transgressions, which I apprehend to be naturally consequent on the ignorance and mistakes inseparable from mortality.” (Wesley 45) There is no such things as an absolute perfection. Absolute perfection doesn’t apply to any human being, but God alone. “Ye shall therefore be perfect as your Father who is in heaven is perfect.” (109)
The perfect Christian, or a Christian that is on their way to perfection, should have certain qualities and things that they keep out of their lives. They should be dead to self and to the flesh, ” I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.” He is Holy, “”holy as God who called him is holy,” both in heart and “in all manner of his heart” and serveth Him with “all his strength.”". He has patience, has love for his neighbor, and keeps away pride and enthusiasm. They don’t think that every voice, dream, impression, vision, or revelation is of God. “Believe not in every spirit, but try the spirits whether they be of God.” (Wesley 88) They should love God with all of their mind, soul, and strength. They are modest and not boastful. They should have humility and patience. Humility shows a increase of God in someone’s life. Patience shows that God is at work in their life and they are allowing God to have his way in their life, for God’s love is patient.
Some people ask “How do we know that if there are any perfect Christians and how do we really know?”. First you must allow that person to claim themselves as having obtained it. I can’t say from experience that I know exactly what will happen to make a person be able to say this. I would think that the Holy Spirit would bear witness with your spirit just as He did with salvation. Wesley told the people that if he had thought that no one had obtained it that he would stop preaching it. I don’t believe a person that believes he has obtained it would exactly go around telling and preaching it to everyone that they are now perfect and that they are perfect as God our Father in heaven is perfect. I don’t believe that a person is at all sinless, but I don’t object to the idea that someone may become sinless. I don’t know exactly when that would happen but I don’t object to it. I believe that if we do ever achieve it, it is in an older age to where we have had time to allow sanctification to work within us and allow God time to show us all of the things in our life that is displeasing to Him.
Scripture has a lot to say about living a perfect, Christ-like, life. Wesley uses a lot of scripture to back up what he says about perfection. Matthew 5:48 says, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” In this scripture Jesus is saying that it is obtainable but it is only reachable through the power of Jesus and by His blood that we are able to obtain it. “Having these promises, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” (2 Cor. 7:1) “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it; That He might present it to Himself a glorious church, no having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” (Eph. 5:25-27)
In conclusion, I don’t think that it is impossible to live a perfect Chiristian life. I hope that I have brought out the scripture to back it up and to make it clear to other Chrisitans that it is possible. I don’t know anyone personally that would be able to say that they have achieve it, but I still think it is possible. I myself and everyone else I know is still working towards it but I believe one day I will be able to say that I have lived, even if just one day, a perfect Christian life in that God would be proud of me that I have strived to be like His son Jesus and that I have strived after heavenly things.
“Savior from sin, I wait to prove That Jesus is Thy healing name; To lose, when perfected in love, Whate’er I have, or can, or am; I stay me on Thy faithful work, “The servant shall be as his Lord.” Answer that gracious end in me For which Thy precious life was given; Redeem from all iniquity, Restore, and make me meet for heaven. Unless Thou purgemy every stain, Thy suffering and my faith are vain.” (Wesley 31)