The Perfection Lie: Why Sinlessness Isn’t Strugglelessness
Hello, ladies and gents! Today my post is in a different style — it’s a letter to my friends, from a girl who has been thinking about “The Perfection Lie” a lot lately.
This letter is on the subject of how we, as Christians, now free from Sin (capitalized) still have to continue learning to deal with sins (lowercase)—both our own and the world’s in general.
You see, though all Christians are Saints in the spiritual sense, completely cleansed of our unrighteousness, that doesn’t make us perfect or without our struggles. Let me write you a letter about it!
Dear Christian Brother or Sister,
We may be very close or not know each other at all, but regardless, we are siblings in Christ. So we’re related! I feel like writing a letter (or a blog post, as is the case) to a sibling is pretty normal, so here goes.
We have a lot in common, you and I.
We’re both human. We both live in this messed up, sinful, horribly corrupt world. We were both born completely and irreversibly tinged by Sin. We both committed sins throughout our lives.
Somehow, we both learned about Jesus Christ, and that message touched both of us in a profound way. It became personal.
We accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior. We believe in Him, have faith is His unending love and grace, and trust that He will keep us until we come to be with Him in Heaven some day.
We’re both Saints (Romans 1:7; Revelation 14:12; 1 Corinthians 1:2), simply. Saints … and that comes with a stigma.
What is a Saint?
The idea of a saint in modern society* is that they’re some perfect, flawless, extraordinary. That’s what people mean when they say someone’s a saint … that they’re better than the rest of us poor blokes. Special.
The truth is none of us are special (Romans 3:9-20; 1 John 1:8; 1 Timothy 2:5).
*As well as many versions of Christianity which I will not refer to in this article as they go contrary to my study of God’s Word. No offense intended, of course; each person is responsible for their own faith! 🙂
Who is a Special?
Not your parents.
Not your grandparents.
Not a single member of your earthly family.
Not a single politician, prince, or ruler.
Not the pope.
Not any of the traditional “saints”—not Jesus’ twelve disciples or any of the others—not the “Virgin Mary.” Not St. Patrick or St. Valentine or Santa Claus. Not anyone.
“There is none righteous, no, not one;
There is none who understands;
There is none who seeks after God.”
You see, when God created the first humans, they and the world they lived in were perfect (Genesis 1:31).
Then Sin entered the world (Genesis 3).
And I’ve been capitalizing Sin in this article, and you may be wondering how Kell could make that same typo so many times!
Well, it’s because I want to make a point. That Sin isn’t just an action. It’s who we are without Jesus Christ.
That’s what Sin is. Sin isn’t murder. Sin isn’t adultery. Sin isn’t even disobeying God. Those are just things you do because of Sin itself.
Sin is so, so much more darker than its direct results ever could be.
It’s not what you do; it’s who you are!
Sin, capitalized, is the absence of God.
The absence of Light, the absence of Color, the absence of Joy, the absence of Love, the absence of Reality, the absence of our Creator.
Everything that God is, Sin is not (Romans 6:23). Sin is what happens when you say, “God, I would rather have myself than You. I would rather have my own knowledge, my own forbidden fruit. You are not what I want in my life and in my world.”
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”
(1 John 1:15-17)
Sin is taking a bite of that apple of pride, of disobedience, of independence.
Sin is saying, “I am better.”
Sin is leaving the garden.
Sin is separation.
“Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam.”
When I say Sin, I don’t mean all the things you did which are in disobedience to the law (as discussed in Romans). I mean WHO YOU ARE apart from Christ.
Basically, without God, your very being is Sin (1 Corinthians 10:13).
You commit sins, too, but that’s not what’s keeping you out of Heaven. Those are just the fruits. What’s keeping you from God is your Sinfulness.
“O wretched man that I am [Paul speaking]! Who will deliver this body from death? I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
So that’s what I’m talking about when I say Sin. However, there’s a difference between that and sins, not capitalized, which is simply things we deliberately do in disobedience to the rules—the This is What I Am’s—of God.
The Perfection Lie
Continuing on, my fellow Saint, I must ask you a question … now that you are a Christian, has God made you perfect?
No. I can answer it for you as well as you can. It’s universal. Everyone sins—you, me, Mary, Joseph, and the camel*.
You still do bad things. You still rebel. You still struggle. Furthermore, you’re still stuck in this blasted, sick, twisted world … and nothing here is ever sinless. It’s a bad place full of bad people and bad things, whether controlled by those bad people or simply a result of Sin itself, happen.
*Actually, the camel might be sinless; I feel like, not having a soul, it doesn’t really matter if the camel “sins” or not. But that’s a rabbit trail for another time.
What’s up with that? It makes no sense. God said: “I am the Light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the Light of Life.” (John 8:12)
Where the heck is that Light?
Why do you still sin? Why is your world still so messy and dark? Why are YOU so messy and dark?
Why don’t you feel some magical oneness with God? Why do you still feel like you’re running around in circles, never getting closer to holiness, your garments still spotted, your life still crumbling …
I get it. I feel like that, too. Like there’s no way I can ever stop sinning.
Guess what? I CAN’T.
You’ll never not commit sins on earth.
“The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
I am going to sin for the rest of my life, but I am no longer a sinner (1 John 5:17; Galatians 5:16; 2 Corinthians 5:17).
Say what now?
God didn’t say He was going to take away your sins.
He didn’t say you would suddenly just not sin anymore.
Nor did He say that you would not continue to suffer the consequences of your own sins, the sins of others, and the capital-S Sin which completely corrodes this world we live in, causing everything from natural disasters to our personal doubts and problems.
The world is absent from God, and so Sin remains.
But what did He say?
Your sins are forgiven (Ephesians 2:8-9).
You are no longer dirty inside (Romans 6:14).
You are cleansed of your unrighteousness (1 John 1:19).
Simply put, God reached into you and wiped away all your capital-S Sin. Now what remains is the world’s capital-S Sin pushing at you from the outside and causing you to commit small-s sins.
But you know what? You are no longer a slave to your sin. You are a Child of God, and His power is made perfect in you through your own weakness.
“We also have the firstfruits of the Spirit.” (Romans 8:3)
“Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” (Romans 8:26)
“Basically, just read all of Romans. Five or six times through. You won’t regret it.” (Kellyn Roth)
You are too weak and too present in this Sinful world to be able to resist the temptations and reach beyond your own humanity to be perfect (Romans 6:6). The world is still here, and it’s still bad even after you become a Christian.
Saints and Sin and Support
You see, Saints aren’t those who don’t sin. They’re those who are no longer susceptible to Sin. Those who, though they are still weakened humans, have been cleansed by God and continue to lean on Him for support (2 Thessalonians 3:3).
With God, you can slowly overcome a multitude of sins, manage them, and learn to deal with them in your day to day life. Through Jesus Christ and only through Him, you can slowly cast off everything of your former life.
You will never stop sinning—there will always be one more wall to leap over—but you no longer have to fight a world of Sin by yourself … because in fact Sin is only an outside force to a Christian (Galatians 2:20). It’s not a part of you.
You’re a Saint (1 Peter 1:16), and Saints don’t have Capital-S Sin anymore. They’re cleansed from that.
Saints can work with God to begin showing fruit of the lack of Sin in their hearts, too. And again, this takes time, but your ability to lean on God to avoid your human impulses and the effects of the exterior Sin will bring that fruit to light.
Well, thanks for reading my letter, Saint! I hope we’ll get to discuss this in the comments.
I’m sure some of you will have thoughts on this, especially those who don’t agree with this type of theology. Of course I’m willing to expand on my thoughts or whatever you want, though please remember to keep God at the center, as always!
Your loving sister,
Well … what do you think? Did this post make sense … and furthermore, did you enjoy it? (It was a lot more complicated than the ones that have come before it, but oh well!) What are your thoughts on sin?