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Death, Taxes & Sin

Sin I John 1:8, sinning, Romans 7, Paul sins, Paul sinned, everyone sins, perfect, blameless

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Virtually all Christians assume that sin is as sure as death and taxes.  In Romans 7 Paul goes through a lengthy explanation of his feelings and frustrations of not being able to keep the law the way his mind knew he should or wanted to.  Many see this as indicating even spirit filled Christians will sin.

In Romans 7 Paul gives sin personification.  He describes it as a separate power in His body, his flesh.  This power is superior to that of his mind.  Even though his mind wants to do what is right he ends up doing what his flesh wants, which is wrong.


Rom 7:18-21  “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.  19 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.  20 Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.  21 I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. 


The influence of the will of the flesh overrode what Paul knew he ought to do.  So he did things his well intentioned mind didn’t really want to do.  He ultimately blamed this on what he called ‘the law of Sin’.  Even though Paul’s mind delighted in the law of God, he was captive to serve this law of sin that made his mind weak next to the power of the flesh.  In frustration, he asks if anyone can fix this problem.


22 “For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man.  23  But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?  


Can someone change this situation?  Paul answers, Yes!  There is a solution by means of Christ.  The reality is that Paul’s mind served the Law of God, but his flesh served the law of sin.  There is no condemnation to those who walk according to the well intentioned mind, the spirit, as opposed to those who walk in the flesh.  The spirit of life in Christ releases us from the law of sin causing death.  The spirit of Messiah can release from the power of the flesh.  The spirit of Messiah, with our spirit can overcome the power of the law of sin in us.


I thank God––through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin” (Rom 7:25).  1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus ….  2For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.” (Rom 7:25-8:2)


The phrase ‘law of sin’ occurs just three times in scripture.  Those three times are Romans 7:23, 25 and Romans 8:2.  These are within five verses of one another.  Since the law of sin was the most powerful force in Paul’s “body of death”, it is easy to see why death might be connected with the law of sin ( vs. 23-24).


The English reading of verse 2 tightly connects the words ‘sin’ and ‘death’.  This does not take into account the Hebrew mind that originally wrote it.  To the Hebrew mind ‘and’ would be ‘vav’.  Hebrew ‘vav’ frequently appears in Hebrew parallel expressions.  Considering the close proximity of all three ‘law of sin’ phrases, it is unlikely the ‘law of sin and death’ is a different law.  In this case it is more likely the ‘vav’ indicates an expression parallel with ‘law of sin’.  The law of sin brings death.  They go hand in hand.  Messiah’s spirit frees the believer from death by empowering the mind to overcome the flesh.  This is another way of saying the believer is freed from the law of sin.  Paul is connecting the phrase 'law of sin' to death.


The Law couldn’t change human nature.  To deal with sin, the Creator made a way the nature of men could be changed.  The change comes by means of a full appreciation of Messiah’s time on earth in the flesh, understanding what the Father expects and resolving to do it.  Messiah condemned sin while He was flesh.  Those who walk according to the Law of God are enabled by the spirit of Messiah to fulfill the righteous requirements of the Law rather than being overcome by the flesh and acquiescing to it. 


For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh,  4 that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” (Rom 8:3-4)


The spirit of Jesus Christ is the spirit of life. ‘Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”’ (John 14:6).  ‘“then He said, "Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God"’ (Heb 10:9a).  That is the spirit of Christ.  It is the commitment to do the will of the Father and an understanding of what that will is.  Those who have that spirit are freed from the ‘law of sin’ that frustrated Paul before the spirit of Christ was available to him.  Pleasing their Creator is more important than pleasing themselves.


Those who walk according to the spirit, respect the things of the spirit (Rom 8:5).  ("For we know that the law is spiritual" Rom 7:14a)  Those who walk after the flesh are concerned with what generally concerns humans in society.  Those who walk after the flesh will not subject their mind to the Law of God (Rom 8:7).  This is in contrast to those who walk in the spirit.  They will subject themselves to the law of God.  Paul subjected his mind to the Law of God (Rom 7:25) even though the natural inclination of the human condition made him subservient to the ‘law of sin’ (Rom 7:23).  But the spirit of Christ freed him from the natural inclination (Rom 8:2).


Paul in Chapter 7 is talking of his quandary and wretched condition before conversion, before he became a new man.  If we walk as Messiah walked, abide in Him, His spirit, His mind in us releases us from that law that made the will and power of the flesh dominate over the mind and spirit.  The spirit, the mind, can now dominate the flesh, i.e., human nature (Gal 5:24).


Romans 8:4-5 is not talking of some imaginary or pretend obedience.  It is expected that those “made…free from the law of sin and death” (vs 2), will “not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (vs 4).  Our walk is how we conduct ourselves.  It is not a good intention, but our fully evident conduct.


I John 

Often people will quote I John 1:8 as evidence that we all sin.  “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us”.  Does this apply to everyone or is John limiting it somehow?  Universal application is at odds with much of I John 3.  Unfortunately, that area has been misunderstood as well.  We'll look at that first. 


I John 3:6-10 “Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him.  7 Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous.  8 He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.  9 Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.  10 In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother.”


Of course, “He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.” (1 John 2:6)  This doesn’t allow for a believer to sin either.


So whoever asserts that they are connected with Messiah, should conduct themselves as He did.  He did not sin.  They should not either.  These statements may surprise some people.  Everyone sins, right?  “… let God be true but every man a liar.” (Rom 3:4b)  Let’s assume the Creator means what He says, first.  If He seems to contradict Himself then we can attempt a resolution or mitigation.


Unfortunately, there are some translations that attempt to change or color 1 John 3:6-11 immediately by emphasizing the use of ‘practice’ in these verses.  Practice is sometimes substituted for the Greek word ‘poieo’ which is a general word meaning make or do.  One such version is “The Holy Bible in its Original Order”.  It inserts practice in these verses even in places where ‘poieo’ does not appear.


Based on their own perception and opinion, these translators think that John here is talking of not ‘practicing’ sin, i.e., not regularly sinning or consistently sinning.  Their thought is that a believer may commit isolated sins occasionally or even fairly often, just not habitually.  Exactly what this means in practical fact is difficult to pin down.  This understanding is justified from the fact that Greek ‘poieo’ can mean ‘practice’.  How likely is it that ‘practice’ is John’s intended meaning?


Greek ‘poieo’ is a general word meaning ‘make’ or ‘do’ (Liddell & Scott).  It is used in a variety of situations when one does not need to be specific as to exactly how something is made or done.  The exhaustive Liddell and Scott lexicon gives over fifty slightly different slants of the use of ‘poieo’.  The nature of the word allows a more specific word than ‘do’ when it is obvious a more specific word is appropriate in English.  There is only one instance where ‘practice’ is mentioned in this exhaustive lexicon’s analysis of ‘poieo’.  It refers to a musician practicing his music.  English speakers don’t usually talk of a musician ‘doing’ a song, at least not historically.  However, that is how the Greeks referred to it.  We would typically use either performing, rehearsing or practicing.  So depending on context, when Greeks talk of ‘doing a song’, ‘practice’ may be an appropriate translation. 


A translator should not just arbitrarily pick the meaning of ‘poieo’ out of a long list of possible meanings as it suits his fancy.  The meaning should fit the context.  ‘Practice’ is deemed appropriate when a Greek writer is talking of ‘doing a song’ to improve his performance.  Applying that meaning to John’s words is totally arbitrary and without proper contextual justification.  It is forcing the beliefs of the translator onto John.


‘Practice’ according to this usage entails doing with the goal of refining a skill.  If this is the type of ‘practice’ that John is intending, we must believe that 1 John 3:6 is intending that a believer is special because he does not refine his skill to sin.  There is nothing special about that at all.  The thought is really absurd.  The general nature of ‘poieo’ then indicates that simply ‘do’ (in this case ‘does’) is what John intended.


The Arndt and Gingrich and the Thayer's lexicon also allow practice as a possible meaning of ‘poieo’.  Thayer’s connects it with “intended, earnest, habitual performance”.  Arndt & Gingrich connects it with to “do, keep, carry out, practice, commit”.  These are not fuzzy or vague definitions that allow for inconsistent performance or regular failure.


It should also be noted that not all pertinent verses in 1 John 3 even use ‘poieo’ or ‘do’.  The Greek text in verse 6 does not contain this word.  The Englishman’s Greek New Testament is more true to the actual text. “Not anyone that abides in Him sins…”.  1 John 5:18 is also in agreement with this and does not actually use ‘poieo’ even though translators typically insert it for ease of flow in the English.  Again the Englishman's translation reflects this. “We know that not anyone that has been begotten of God sins; but he that was begotten of God keeps himself, and the wicked [one] does not touch him.”


We should also take note of verse 7.  “Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices (does) righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous.”  One cannot presume that ‘practicing’ allows for frequent failure considering this instruction.  Someone that sins with regularity is not righteous like our Creator is righteous.  Our Creator does not sin.  One is not ‘practicing’ righteousness unless he is doing it to that standard.


Consider as well verse 8.  “He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.”  The source of sin is Satan.  When someone sins he is being the student and child of Satan (John 8:39).  The purpose for Messiah coming was to destroy what Satan did.  His life on earth was intending to do that.  His time on earth is past.  It follows that His followers would then support His purpose and purge sin from their life.


At this point some may be completely nonplused and think they can never attain to what John affirms in 1 John 3:6.  Don’t give up so quickly.  One of the reasons people believe we all sin is because we’ve always been told that in this life we will always sin.  As long as we believe that, it will certainly be true.  It is a self-fulfilling prophesy.  Likely the same people that tell us that, tell us other things about the word of God that are incorrect.


If we understand that sin can be eliminated, then we can diligently seek to understand how.  If we don’t understand it can be eliminated, we won’t bother looking for a way to do it.   If we think sin is as sure as death and taxes, we won’t work very hard to find out how to avoid it.  In fact, we come to tolerate sin.  The Creator is repulsed by it (Isa 59:2).


It is the Father’s will that we join Him in His kingdom (Luke 12:32).  He wants to help.  He will help us in this matter just as He enables us to escape other problems (1Cor 10:13).  We’re not likely to seek the escape hatch if we don’t think it exists.  Understanding the problem is often half of the solution.


Children need to be encouraged and cheered when they take their first step or catch their first ball.  We don’t expect them to provide for themselves and function properly in society their first year of life.  Over time though things change and they are expected to step up to responsible adulthood.  Messiah has been leading us all along this same journey, but He is directing us toward spiritual adulthood.  The yardstick of the spiritual is the adulthood of the Father.  We’ve been surviving on milk long enough.  Messiah’s selfless example has been given to us.  It’s time to step up to His example and start a diet of meat. 


Let’s look at an aspect of verse 9 before we move on.  “Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.”   On the surface this appears to say that it is impossible for one ‘born of God’ to sin.  This translation does not fully reflect the actual tense of the Greek text.  This verse is examined in A.T. Robertson’s Word Pictures in the New Testament, Vol. VI, p. 223.


“This is a wrong translation, …. The present active infinitive hamartanein can only mean ‘and he cannot go on sinning….’ A great deal of false theology has grown out of a misunderstanding of the tense of hamartanein here. Paul has precisely John’s idea in Rom. 6:1 epimenomen tei hamartiai (shall we continue in sin...?, present active linear subjunctive) in contrast with hamartesomen in Rom. 6:15 (shall we commit a sin, first aorist active subjunctive).”  The thought is that believers do not have the option to continue sinning.


Besides tinkering with the meaning of ‘poieo’ some feel the nature of the verb ‘sin’ is indicating some other meaning than the face value of the text.  Some of the verbs translated ‘sin’ are what is called ‘continuous’.  They are not addressing a short specific period of time, but an extended period. Some translators feel this gives them the liberty in I John 3:6, for instance, to translate as: ’…Everyone sinning continually has neither seen Him nor known Him’.  Alternatively it is translated 'practicing sin'.   They can then define 'practicing sin' or ‘sinning continually’ as they wish, since anyone who sleeps for any length of time might not fit this category.


If you wish to carefully examine ‘continuous’ Greek verbs in this context or any context click here.  To make a long story short this translation adding 'practicing' or ‘continually’ to the text is not extending the duration of the verb, but changing its meaning.  The ‘continuing’ nature of Greek verbs is usually best highlighted by placing ‘ever’ before the verb. That gives us ‘…everyone ever sinning has neither seen Him nor known Him’. This takes the thought of the phrase and makes it open ended, clearly including the future.  The phrase using continually has used continually to change the type of sinning that is being done.  It has modified the meaning of the verb, not the duration of the period covered. Generally the context in English makes apparent the intent of ‘continuous’ verbs, but sometimes highlighting them can add a little insight.


1 John 1:8

1 John 1:8 is often understood to indicate that we all sin.  At face value this is a direct contradiction of the thoughts in I John 3:6-9.  These verses are quite direct and indicate those who sin don’t really know Messiah. Those who know Him are righteous just like He is.  The divine nature is in a person of God and He will not sin.  This is how one can know who is who.


The verse preceding I John 1:8 Agrees with I John 3:6-9 not really verse 8.  But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (I John 1:7).  If one is walking in the light as the Creator is in the light it is certain they are not sinning.  He does not sin.  Any past sin that has not been forgiven will be washed away.


So how is John able to say, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”?  Is someone walking as the Father walks lying if they say they have no sin? In fact, John has limited who he has in mind with this statement.  It is typically missed by English speakers who are not tuned in to the habits of Hebrew speakers, which John was.  There is more to translation than translating words.  One needs to take other quirks of communication that are part of a particular culture into account as well.  In this particular case we are presented with an interesting form of Hebrew Parallelism in verses 6-10.  Note the similarly highlighted phrases in the alternating verses below.


:6If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.”

:7But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

:8If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”

:9If 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.


The United Bible Societies’ Handbook for the New Testament on I John 1:6-10 recognizes at least some of this quirk.  In their handling of verse 6 they note: "The structure of the sentence corresponds to that of v. 8bc and v.10bc, each of which has also two parts, the first positive, the second negative.  This stylistic feature is important as indication of the discourse of this section."  Not only do verses 6, 8 & 10 correspond to one another, but verses 7 and 9 correspond to one another also, although not quite as dramatically. 


The handbook also suggests that John has opponents he is dealing with.  Regarding verse. 6, "What the writer's opponents are saying here is in stark contrast with what they are actually doing."  Rather than opponents, this author sees John as dealing with pretenders, and in opposition, to believers. Verses 6, 8 & 10 are dealing with these 'pretenders', not anybody or everybody.  They deal with those who "say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness" and "say that we have no sin" and "say that we have not sinned", but in fact their actions show they walk in darkness.  These pretenders are liars, the truth is not in them.  This is in opposition to believers, those who "walk in the light as He is in the light" (in Him is no darkness at all, vs 5) and those who "confess our sins".  With these there is fellowship with one another and all unrighteousness is cleansed. 


The UBS Handbook recognizes that the use of 'If we' in especially verses 6, 8 & 10 is an attempt to be tactful.  Those who "say that we have no sin" are those same people that "say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness".  John is not intending the former statement to be a general statement that applies to everyone.  He has qualified it with his handling of alternating mindsets in Hebrew parallelism.  It only applies to those that are not walking in the light as He is in the light, but are walking in darkness, sin.  Of course that is almost everyone, but not quite.  John obviously sees that some do walk in the light as the Father does.  Unfortunately, Hebrew parallelism is not easily recognized or the significance automatically understood by English speakers.


A similar alternating and contrasting pattern is found just a few verses later in chapter 2.


: 9  “He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now.

:10 “He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him.

:11 “But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.


Similar patterns are found throughout scripture. Our Savior especially made similar contrasts in His instruction. Many instances also follow John’s three part sentence pattern.


Mat 7:13 "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.

:14 "Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.


1 John 1:8 is not saying that everyone sins regularly.  John is saying that those who walk in darkness are liars if they say they don’t sin and that they have fellowship with the Father.  Also I John 1:9 is not saying that we can sin on a regular basis and He will automatically forgive.  It assumes that those confessing are consistently walking in the light as He is in the light.


The intention is that our old sin is cleansed upon true repentance and baptism.  In talking of the congregation of God; “that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word” (Eph 5:26).  “Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Rom 6:4).


If one begins walking with the Creator as He walks, Messiah’s blood will wash the old sin away.  This of course assumes a full repentance, which must come before one can walk in the light as He does.  Verse 9 assumes that if a believer does sin he will recognize it and confess or acknowledge it to his Creator immediately.  In that case, because Messiah is patient, just and faithful it will be cleaned as well.  Confession reinforces the understanding of the problem and helps prevent reoccurrence. 


I John 1:7 is talking of conversion.  A relatively new believer has set aside his own way and is walking sin free as the Father does.  His old sins are then cleansed, the debt paid.  The expectation on a believer once cleansed is clearly stated by Paul in Romans 6:2.  “… How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?”  The expectation is that the believer will not sin.  “Whoever abides in Him does not sin…”(1 John 3:6a)  “Whoever has been born of God does not sin…”(1 John 3:9a)   


However, because things don’t always go as expected John does allow that a believer might sin. 


Notice John's continuing thought.  "My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin" (I John 2:1abc).   Sin is bad for us and bad for others.  John has informed his readers of the process whereby they may overcome sin and discontinue sinning.  Once cleansed, they should not go back to business as usual.  They should continue walking in the light, like the Father.  'Most of the time' is not part of this thought. 


“…And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (I John 2:1def).  IF anyone sins, or on the rare occasion when a believer does sin, our High Priest can intercede for us with the Father.  All sin is against the Father.  He set the guidelines of what is proper and what is not.  Some of the above scriptures (I John 3:6, 8, 9, 5:18) may be taken to indicate that a believer will absolutely never sin.  Although written in Greek, the author of these scriptures was Hebrew.  Hebrew speakers tend to generalize.  In fact, John does allow that a believer might sin, but generally and for all practical purposes, he does not.  Fortunately, the New Covenant is administered differently than the covenant made at Sinai.  The default penalty is not death for the sinner.  However, Messiah decides who is compliant with the New Covenant.  It is with those who have His nature.  "But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him" (1 John 2:5ab). 


It is possible a believer might sin.  It is exceptional, not the rule. ‘If’ indicates a possibility not even a likelihood.  John uses ‘if’ not ‘when’.  He assumes no sin, but allows it as a possibility.


The expectation is that the believer will not sin.  1 John 3:6a, “Whoever abides in Him does not sin…  1 John 3:9a “Whoever has been born of God does not sin…”   


There are a host of other scriptures that exhort believers toward walking exclusively in the ways of the Creator.  He doesn’t share us very well with Satan.  We examine many of these in connection with the New Covenant.


Other indications believers sin

James 3:2 "For we all stumble in many things... " 

Heb 12:1 “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us”.


Both of these exist for the same reason.  James and Hebrews are practicing Paul's admonition to be all things to all people.  They are trying to identify with their audience to draw them to them rather than alienate them.  In theological circles this is called the “preacher’s we”.  It doesn’t indicate a fault on the part of the speaker, but an attempt to identify with the reader or hearer.  It recognizes a problem that needs to be overcome without being condemnatory.


For example, in James 3, James continues his thought indicating the result if one is careful with his words.  "...If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body."  James didn't say one could never bridle the whole body, but a few verses later he encouraged them to reject objectionable words.  Verse 10, "Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so.  11 Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening?"  


Some things just don’t mix.  Godliness and harsh words are two of those things.  Paul echo’s this.  "And what accord has Christ with Belial?" (II Cor 6:15) James makes his full point in time.  "Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom....17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. 18 Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace" (Jas 3:13, 17-18).  If one is a conduit of the wisdom of God he will make peace with his words.  A sharp tongue is not an indication of godliness.  One who makes peace will not “stumble in word”.


We should consider other things James says like "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double–minded" (4:8).  Sin is an indication of double-mindedness, not like the person who draws his mentality from above.  The one doing sin is still yielding to his flesh, not his Creator.  Sin separates us from Him.


Philippians 3

Some will probably point to the context around Philippians 3:12 as an indication that Paul had not reached the point of perfection and sinlessness.


 “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.


It seems safe to say that if Paul had not attained to the standard Messiah asks of us probably no one will in this life.  In that case Messiah is asking us to do something that is impossible to do.  If we cannot be complete/perfect we won’t be able to walk in the light as He is in the light.  It follows that we haven’t really repented and likely our sins are not forgiven.  Do Paul’s statements tell us that?  Let’s keep listening.


 “Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.  16 Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.” (Phil 3:15-16)


Here Paul does consider that he has attained to completeness or perfection.  The Greek for perfected in verse 12 is the same basic word as that used for mature in verse 15.  One is a verb the other an adjective.  The condition indicated behind it is the same.  He expects others are included too.  He exhorts that those in that condition should continue to conduct their lives to the standard by which they attained to that condition.  There is no allowance to dabble with the dark side, no time-outs from that walk.


It seems apparent that Paul in verses 12-14 does not consider himself to have attained because he doesn’t want to open the door to complacency.  The believer needs to continue pressing “toward the goal for the prize”. 


Verses 15-16 continue in the same thought.  One shouldn’t let down or relax his godly conduct, but continue in it.


Peter also warns of the need for continued diligence.


You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked;  18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.” (II Pet 3:17-18)


One can repent of darkness and still not conduct their lives exactly the way our Creator would conduct His.  However, the believer is expected to focus on the improvement of the spiritual (Rom 8:5) rather than on the physical attractions of life.  This will move them to a deeper understanding of Messiah and the Father.  There will always be something to learn and areas to improve.  We can’t take a break from sinless conduct because we have a working relationship with our Creator.  Because we successfully lived to His standard yesterday does not allow us to live to a lesser standard today.  Both thoughts and actions need to be to the Masters standard, continually.  We must always be seeking to better understand and conduct ourselves according to that standard.  There is no time we can take a break from it. 


It makes no sense that a believer would say I did no sin yesterday so now I don’t need to worry about it.  Part of being complete is to have the yearning to better understand the mind of the Creator.  That mentality is incompatible with resting on ones laurels.