Will the Christian Church Ever Be Sinless?
When we are drawn and called by the Holy Spirit to Christ in faith and repentance, He justifies us by His grace through faith in His sinless life and atoning death upon the cross of Calvary. As a new born babe in Christ, we are accounted sinless and perfect in the merciful reckoning of God.
Those who are justified and reckoned righteous by faith in Christ's sinless life and atoning death will then receive the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit to begin to change us and fashion us into the divine image. This inward change wherein the Christian begins to learn to love God and his neighbor is called "sanctification". This is the work of a lifetime. We can never say we are sinless in this life. We will always have battles to fight and new victories to win in the struggle with our sinful nature. Sanctification will never cease until Jesus comes in the clouds of heaven. No saint can ever claim to be without sin.
Jesus our Lord DID claim to be without sin because He was sinless and absolutely without taint or propensity to sin. He could truly say, "Which of you convinceth me of sin?" These words from the lips of anyone but Him would be blasphemy. We have not only sinned in the past but we daily continually fall short of the righteousness of God and we continually need justification throughout our earthly life. This means that we must always be repentant and trusting in the imputed righteousness of Christ until Jesus comes. We are saved by grace at the beginning of our Christian life and we are saved by grace at the coming of the Lord. This grace is the UNMERRITED mercy and acceptance of God. Those who think that they will be sinless and without any taint before Jesus comes will never be at peace with God.
Sanctification is never the basis of our hope. Our hope of eternal life is in the acceptance we faulty erring imperfect believers have in the perfect, unerring imputed righteousness of our merciful Savior. Because our hope is in justification, we also "rejoice in the glory of God." This "glory of God" is the second coming of Jesus. When Jesus comes all faces gather darkness and upon the lips of all His saints is the question, "The great day of His wrath is come and who shall be able to stand." Then Jesus looks upon His redeemed people and says, "My grace is sufficient for thee."
If we are in Christ today, we are ready if He should come today. This does not mean that we are without sin or selfishness and that we have total sanctification and perfect holiness of life, but that we have repented of our sins and are trusting in His imputed righteousness while at the same time we are seeking victory over all of our besetting sins and pleading for more and more of the Holy Spirit in our hearts to give us victory over the lust of the world, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life.
Justification and Sanctification go hand in hand until Jesus comes. We will always need both and always confess the sinfulness of our lives and our need of the mercy of Christ. We Christians are all seeking to obey God's Law in spirit and in letter. This is the earnest desire of every forgiven, justified, and born again believer in Jesus. But at the same time we all mourn that we fall so far short.
Let's take a minute to set aside willful sin for a minute and take a look at our good works. By good works, I am referring to the good things we Christians do to serve God and our fellow man which are genuinely inspired by the Holy Spirit. Are these good works of service absolutely pure, absolutely done at all times in the spirit of perfect love? Is the kindness we show to others always motivated without any taint of pride? Do our good works perfectly reflect the life of Christ? When the very best saint measures himself by the life of Jesus, how does his life measure with the unselfishness of Christ's life?
The very best sanctified life of all the holy people of God who would rather die than commit one known sin is still only a faint reflection of the righteousness of Jesus. We can copy the Pattern but we can never equal it. Our high calling in Christ is to perfect holiness in the sight of God, despising everything in our lives that will mar the image of God in our souls. We are reckoned perfect at every stage of our growth in Christ. Our good works are perfect "in Christ"
and He will reward us for every good deed performed in His name. God accepts our prayers, our praise, and our good deeds because we are accepted for Jesus' sake and in His name.
Regarding the fact that when the seven last plagues are poured out, "no man can enter the Temple"; although no one can enter the temple at that time, the believer is already in the temple by faith. Our faith is cast within the veil. Those who are filthy will remain filthy still and those who are righteous will remain righteous still. No one will go out of the temple and no one will be able to come into the temple. As Noah was shut safely in the ark, so God's people will be shut safely in the Temple. Those who reject the Gospel will no longer hear the invitation of mercy, for no man can enter the temple after the final invitation is given to all the world. All cases will have been decided and the number of the redeemed is complete. Even during this time, God's people will still only be a faint reflection of the righteousness of Jesus. The mercy of God is their only hope now, in the final sealing, in the coming time of trouble, and at the Second Advent when they shall stand before the eternal majesty and the radiance of His glory. They are righteous by grace alone through faith alone in the imputed righteousness of the Sinless One, alone.