of perfectionism is its exaggerated estimate of man?s power of contrary choice. To say that, whatever may have been the habits of the past and whatever may be the evil affections of the present a man is perfectly able at any moment to obey the whole law of God, is to deny that there are such things as character and depravity. Finney, Gospel Themes, 383, indeed, disclaimed ?all expectations of attaining this state ourselves and by our own independent, unaided efforts.? On the Law of God, see pages 537-544.
Augustine: ?Every lesser good has an essential element of sin.? Anything less than the perfection that belongs normally to my present stage of development is a coming short of the law?s demand. R. W. Dale, Fellowship with Christ, 359 ? ?For us and in this world, the divine is always the impossible. Give me a law for individual conduct, which requires a perfection, that is within my reach and I am sure that the law does not represent the divine thought. ?Not that I have already obtained or am already made perfect but I press on, if so be that I may lay hold on that for which also I was laid hold on by Christ Jesus? ( <500312>Philippians 3:12) ? this, from the beginning, has been the confession of saints.? The Perfectionist is apt to say that we must ?take Christ twice, once for justification and once for sanctification.? But no one can take Christ for justification without at the same time taking him for sanctification. Dr. A.
A. Hodge calls this doctrine ?Neonomianism,? because it holds not to one unchanging, ideal, and perfect law of God but to a second law given to human weakness when the first law has failed to secure obedience.
(1) The law of God demands perfection. It is a transcript of God?s nature. Its object is to reveal God. Anything less than the demand of perfection would misrepresent God. God could not give a law, which a sinner could obey. In the very nature of the case there can be no sinless capacity in this life for those who have once sinned. Sin brings incapacity as well as guilt. All men have squandered a part of the talent entrusted to them by God and therefore, no man can come up to the demands of that law which requires all that God gave to humanity at its creation together with interest on the investment.
(2) Even the best Christian comes short of perfection. Regeneration makes only the dominant disposition holy. Much affection still remains unholy and there remains the requirement to be cleansed. Only by lowering the demands of the law, making shallow our conceptions of sin and mistaking temporary volition for permanent bent of the will, can we count ourselves to be perfect.
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