Are We Saints or Sinners?
A few days ago, I posted the following to my Facebook page:
You are not a sinner, saved by grace.
You are a saint, called to do good works, that He has prepared before hand. (Eph. 2:10)
You are not what you have done, you are what He has done.
Live out of *that* identity.
Some friends liked it, some very appropriately challenged me. Specifically, one friend asked me, « What do you do with 1 Tim. 1:15?
« It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. »
I have been trying to find time to really answer this, but time eludes me. However, I think it is important to say that *what I said before was not quite right* and *it is true that we are BOTH saints and sinners.*
The reason I posted what I did is because all throughout the New Testament, and especially in Paul, Christians are always called SAINTS. And we are supposed to live out of THIS reality/identity (Phil. 1:27).
Sometimes, we can wrap our identity around our sinfulness. We can believe:
1) It is normal to sin, fail, mess up, not live in victory
2) That we are valueless, worthless, filthy
…But, this is not how God sees us! He sees us as saints! And it is NOT normal for saints to sin. That is a contradiction in terms, and also an affront to God’s grace. If we do sin, we have an advocate to redeem us (1 John 2:1) but we are not SUPPOSED to sin. Grace is like a fire-man. Your house is not supposed to burn down. If it does, he’s there for you. But that’s not supposed to happen! (Rom. 6, 1 John 5).
But even though we are saints, we do still sin. When we do, we need to hear the call, « wash your hands, you sinners: purify your hearts, you double-minded » (James 4:8). We need to come trembling to God’s presence like the publican and say, « Have mercy on me, the sinner » (Luke 18:13).
We are not sinners. We are not supposed to sin. But we *do*, from time to time, do the unthinkable. We sin. And for that reason, as Paul and James make clear, we are « sinners, » even though, paradoxically, we are also saints. Fortunately, we have a High Priest that ‘gets it,’
« For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. » (Heb. 4:15-16)