By Reginald Wallis



This chapter forms a sort of parenthesis, though its content needs to be carefully considered in connection with the Life of Victory.

Bible teachers who emphasize the need for personal victory in the heart and life of the believer, and who therefore teach the way of practical holiness, are often accused of being “sinless-perfectionists”. In fact, it is difficult to avoid this suspicion wherever such a ministry is given. There are always some who assume that the extremes of religious fanaticism are thereby approved of.

Fortunately, a faithful minister of the Word need not be concerned about the opinions or criticisms of others. Indeed, he must always expect some measure of misrepresentation. It is feared, however, that prejudice is often behind such criticism when practical sanctification in the Christian’s walk day by day is stressed.

Bible Holiness

It should hardly be necessary to state that the doctrine of the Word of God on practical victory is both sane and spiritual. None of us need be afraid of being sinlessly perfect this side of the pearly gates! There is only one sense in which the believer is absolutely perfect at the present time, and that is in his perfect standing before God in Christ Jesus (Hb. 10:14). He is positionally perfect, but, as we have seen, he is temporarily residing in a “lowly body”, i.e. a human body beset with limitations and infirmities because of indwelling sin and “flesh”.

It is obvious, therefore, that so long as he resides in such a body he cannot reach a state of sinless perfection. There may even be outworkings of that carnality which, although unconscious to the believer himself, constitute defilement in the sight of God. Thank God that the precious blood, in its eternal efficacy, maintains the believer’s standing before God and cleanses him from all unrighteousness (1 Jn. 1:7).

It should be remembered, however, that the blood never cleanses the flesh. The flesh cannot be purified (Jer. 2:22). It must be mortified. This involves the cross aspect of our Lord’s atoning death, as distinct from “the blood”. The blood justifies the sinner before God and that eternally (Ro. 3:24-25). The cross in its daily application keeps the flesh experientially in the place of death, by the power of the Holy Spirit.

The extreme holiness teaching to which we have alluded, centers round the complete eradication, or destruction, of the indwelling sin. As we have seen already, there is no Scriptural authority for such an assertion. The believer is exhorted to “reckon” himself dead to sin. It is obvious that if the flesh is annihilated there is no need for the exercise of such a reckoning faith.

The whole significance of faith is that it takes an objective or potential fact in Christ and makes it real in experience. Only by this means can it become practical. Cease to exercise faith and it will be quickly discovered that the flesh is present and very much alive. In other words, the root of indwelling sin is still there, but it must not be allowed to reign (Ro. 6:12). So long as we live in these bodies, therefore, we cannot be “faultless”.

One day the Church is to be presented “faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy” (Jd. 24). Then we shall be sinlessly perfect because we shall be exactly like the sinlessly perfect One, with bodies changed into the likeness of his glorious body.

In the meantime, though, we cannot be “faultless” in that sense, we are called upon to be perfect in the sense of being “blameless” (Phil. 2:15). There is a difference. I am not blamable in the sight of God for the presence of indwelling sin. That is a matter of natural generation over which I have no control. I am responsible, however, to appropriate the victory that God offers over all conscious sin, and immediately I fail to abide in Christ – with its resultant defeat – I become blamable, and need to confess my sin before the Lord.

A small boy may write a loving letter to his parents which is full of bad spelling and grammatical mistakes; it is far from faultless, but it may be quite blameless. Do you see the difference?

Further, if there is constant victory in Christ over the resident flesh, what need is there in any case for the extreme teaching of eradication? It cannot provide any more than complete victory over sin, and this is available through a moment by moment reckoning of our crucifixion and resurrection “with Christ”.

Let us beware of an unnecessary, unscriptural, and sometimes dangerous emphasis. Many an advocate of extreme holiness teaching along this line has forfeited the blessed truth of the eternal security of the believer (Jn. 10:28-29). The whole trouble centers around the failure to understand the difference between the believer’s objective position in Christ, and his subjective experience day by day.

It has been accurately put this way: It is not that the believer is NOT ABLE to sin, rather that he is ABLE NOT to sin. Let us preach a practical, Biblical holiness. “This is the will of God, your sanctification…” (1 Thes. 4:3). Do not be led astray and injure others by extremes which find no warrant in the truth of Scripture.

Study Guide

Why do you think it was important for Wallis to defend the teaching on Christian victory from the allegation of teaching “sinless perfection”?

In what sense is the believer in Christ “perfect”?

How does the teaching of victory-in-Christ differ from the belief that sin can be eradicated in this lifetime?

Where does the Bible state that Christians will not be totally free from sin until this mortal body is set aside?