This subject should be considered under seven aspects.
1. In the Old Testament (Gen. 6:9; Job 1:1, 8). Israel as a nation might be required to be perfect (Deut. 18:13). Men likewise were said to be perfect relatively (Ps. 37:37). (See the doctrines of The Just and Justification.) Old Testament saints are seen in heaven as "spirits of just men made perfect" (Heb. 12:22-24). Paul was blameless before the law (Phil. 3:6).
2. Progressive. New Testament saints may progress relative to spiritual maturity, which refers to being more or less full grown and not to sinless perfection (1 Cor. 2:6; cf. 13:11; 14:20; Phil. 3:15; 2 Tim. 3:17).
3. And the Flesh. "Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?" (Gal. 3:3).
4. In Some Particular. (a) Obeying God (Col. 4:12). (b) Imitating God (Matt. 5:48). (c) Service (Heb. 13:21). (d) Patience (James 1:4).
5. Positional. Positional perfection is due to the believer's standing in Christ (Heb. 10:14). In this respect the believer is seen to be absolutely and infinitely perfect, indeed as perfect as Christ Himself, but it is altogether due to the fact that he is in Christ and partaking of what Christ is, not to any perfection of his own.
6. Ultimate (Individual). Scripture contemplates that at some future time the believer will be conformed to the image of Christ (Col. 1:28; cf. vs. 22; Phil. 3:12; 1 Thess. 3:13; 1 Pet. 5:10).
7. Ultimate (Corporate). The whole body of believers will be perfected as such (John 17:23; Eph. 4:12-13; 5:27; Jude 1:24; Rev. 14:5).
Scripture gives no basis for the extreme doctrines of personal holiness or sinless perfection advocated by some Christians.
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