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Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Cathari and Modern Sinless Perfectionism

Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. James 1:13-15

Because it is necessary that our faith be tested, as James says previously in the first chapter, people might think that God was the cause of the sin that might come from the testing.

James dispels that fiction. The source of sin is in ourselves, and comes from a corrupt nature. This corrupt nature we carry with us until the resurrection, when this corruption puts on incorruption. At that day we will be completely conformed to Jesus Christ, for we shall see Him as He is. Until then, we struggle and labor to live godly lives,purifying ourselves because of the hope that we have received from His promises.

There have always been those in this great movement we call Christianity who drift off into small puddles of theology, corrupting themselves and those who follow them. One example of these are those who profess sinless perfection. They have been known by many names in the history of the Church: Cathari, Paulicians, Bogomils, and perhaps some among Montanism and other things. There were many variations of this heresy, but one thing they had in common was a claim to live without sin.

There is an element of the Cathari in Arminianism and it will surface if you probe for it. The main tenet of Arminianism is that man must add something to faith in order to be saved.

The spirit of condemning other and professing sinlessness must have arisen very early for John deals with the heresy in his first epistle. We would not even be aware the the corruption of our nature, our "flesh" if it were not revealed by the word and Spirit of Christ.

John writes in 1John 1:6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:

7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Note: We cannot be Christians if we walk in darkness.
If we walking the light, we confess our sins and they are forgiven us and we are cleansed from "unrighteousness" not the corruption of our nature, but defilements of the law of God. We are washed from our guilt by the blood of Christ.

It is true that the Holy Spirit is also given to us to emplant a new nature that seeks obedience, but Adam's nature is not rooted out until the resurrection of the dead. All of our lives the "flesh" of Adam's nature will war against the "spirit" and will be the source of all kinds of sins, if we do not walk in the spirit. [Gal. 5.] If any man think that he stands, he should take heed lest he fall.

The claim of sinlessness is a proof of self-deception and of not walking in the light. [1John 1:10.] John Wesley revived some of the foolishness of the Cathari and is the root of the heresy of "Second Work of Grace Holiness" a fiction and destructive to the souls that labored after it, for it took their focus away from the Spirit and blood of Christ to their own works of holiness.

The followers of the Cathari laugh at faithful Christians and mock them with such phrases as "cheap grace" and "easy believism." They never seem to ask themselves of the horror implied in these labels: that the grace of God does not contain sufficient value in the blood of Christ unless we add something of ourselves into the formula; or that the labor and work of Christ was not difficult enough to earn our salvation unless we contribute our own works to it.

See my article on "easy believism" at:
http://basketoffigs.org/misc/believism.htm

If you are a real Calvinist you will be accused of antinomianism by those who are experts on sin, or you will be accused of legalism by those who refuse to be bound by any law. If you get shot at from both sides, you probably have it right.

It is often not profitable to argue with these people, for they are blinded by self-deceit and have closed their minds to the corruption that runs amok in their associations.
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