Quotes about Perfectionism


Sanctification will be marked by penitence more than perfection.


In the Lord’s Prayer we are specifically instructed to ask God for the forgiveness of our debts, or sins. Paul counted himself not to have attained; he did not consider himself already perfect. The Apostle John, one of the most saintly men of all time, the beloved of the Lord, said that if any man said he had no sin he deceived himself and the truth was not in him. A preacher, commenting on the fact that the Christian who says he has no sin deceives himself, remarked that he does not deceive anyone but himself.


When Jesus commands us to be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect (Matt. 5:48), this simply shows that God’s own absolute moral purity is the standard toward which we are to aim and the standard for which God holds us accountable. The fact that we are unable to attain that standard does not mean that it will be lowered; rather, it means that we need God’s grace and forgiveness to overcome our remaining sin. Similarly, when Paul commands the Corinthians to make holiness perfect in the fear of the Lord (2 Cor. 7:1), or prays that God would sanctify the Thessalonians wholly (1 Thess. 5:23), he is pointing to the goal that he desires them to reach. He does not imply that any reach it, but only that this is the high moral standard toward which God wants all believers to aspire.


No Christian will ever become perfect in this life; that awaits the redemption of the body (Rom. 8:23). Perfection in this life will always be a goal, never an achievement. If we say we do not sin, we make God a liar, because He says we do (1 Jn. 1:7-9).


The apostle Paul, undoubtedly the most committed, dedicated, spiritually mature Christian who ever lived, confessed gladly [Phil. 3:12-13] that he had failed to reach spiritual perfection thirty years after his conversion. And that confession was clear evidence of his true and mature spirituality. Who, then, can make legitimate claim to have done so?


Indeed, the more sanctified the person is, the more conformed he is to the image of his Savior, the more he must recoil against every lack of conformity to the holiness of God. The deeper his apprehension of the majesty of God, the greater the intensity of his love to God, the more persistent his yearning for the attainment of the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus, the more conscious will he be of the gravity of the sin that remains and the more poignant will be his detestation of it… Was this not the effect in all the people of God as they came into closer proximity to the revelation of God’s holiness?


It appears singular to the reader of St. Paul’s Epistles that the apostle in one passage speaks of Christians as perfect, and in another as imperfect. At one time, he describes them in terms that would lead us to infer that they are holy as God is holy; and at another, he speaks of them as full of sin and corruption. In the text, he denominates them “the elect of God, holy and beloved,” and yet immediately proceeds to exhort them to the possession and practice of the most common Christian graces – such as humility and forgiveness. In a preceding paragraph, he tells the Colossians that they “are dead to sin, and their life is hid with Christ in God,” and then goes on to urge them to overcome some of the most gross sins in the whole catalogue – “mortify, therefore, your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry” (Col. 3:3-5).


Since Scripture does not contradict itself, those who hold to the position that moral perfectionism can be attained in this world, need to seriously consider our Lord’s teaching in 1 Kings 8:46; Proverbs 20:9; Ecclesiastes 7:20; Matthew 6:11-2; Romans 6:12-14; James 3:2 and especially 1 John 1:8. And if you need some personal examples check out Isaiah 6:5 and Job 42:5-6.