A number of times, when talking about sinless perfection, preachers, commentators and others will reference the life of C. H. Spurgeon and his encounters with those claiming sinless perfection. Unfortunately, a lot of the recollections are a little hazy, so I thought I would rummage through Spurgeon’s autobiography to see what actually happened. After a short while I found this:
In striking contrast to those apologists for sin; I met in my first pastorate, as I have often done since, a number of persons who professed to be perfect, and who said that they had lived so many months or years without sinning against God. One man, who told me that he was perfect, was hump-backed, and when I remarked that I thought, if he were a perfect man, he ought to have a perfect body, he became so angry that I said to him, “Tell, my friend , if you are perfect, there are a great many more as near perfection as you are,” “Oh!” he exclaimed, “I shall feel it for having been betrayed into anger.” He said that he had not been angry for many years; I had brought him back to his old state of infirmity, and painful as it might be for him, I have no doubt that it did him good to see himself as he really was.C.H. Spurgeon, C.H. Spurgeonâ€™s Autobiography: 1. The Early Years (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1962), 228
Our Wesleyan brethren have a notion that they are going to be perfect here on earth. I should be very glad to see them when they are perfect, and if any of them happen to be in the position of servants, wanting situations, I would be happy to give them any amount of wages I could spare, for I should feel myself highly honoured and greatly blessed in having perfect servants; and what is more, if any of them are masters, and need servants, I would undertake to come and serve them without wages at all if I could but find a perfect master. I have had one perfect Master ever since I first knew the Lord, and if I could be sure that there is another perfect master, I should be greatly pleased to have him as an under-master, while the great Supreme must ever be chief of all. One man, who said he was perfect, called upon me once, and asked me to go and see him, for I should receive valuable instruction from him if I did. I said, “I have no doubt it would be so, but I should not like to go to your house, I think I should hardly be able to get into one of your rooms.” “How is that ?” he enquired. “‘Well,” I replied, “I suppose that your house would be so full of angels that there would be no room for me.” He did not like that remark; and when I made one or two other playful observations, he went into a towering rage. “‘Well, friend,” I said to him, “I think, after all, I am as perfect as you are; but do perfect men ever get angry?” He denied that he was angry, although there was a peculiar redness about his cheeks, and a fiery flash in his eyes, that is very common to persons when they are in a passion. At any rate, I think I rather spoiled his perfection, for he evidently went home much less satisfied with himself than when he came out.C.H. Spurgeon, C.H. Spurgeonâ€™s Autobiography: 1. The Early Years (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1962), 229
So there you have it, I suspect much less exciting than most recollections of Spurgeon’s encounters with “sinless perfection”, but still apt reminders than no one will be without sin in this life.
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.1 John 1:8 (NIV)