Friday, August 17, 2007

Are you still a sinner?

There is a theology being taught from many pulpits today that cheapens the work of Christ on the cross. It presents half of the power of the cross and basically denies the other half. In other words, the message is that Christ's work redeems us, atones for our sins, and justifies us, but that is basically it; we are still sinners controlled by our sinful nature until we die.

The fact that Christ has victory over sin and death is too often not taken seriously or literally. This victory gives all who are in Christ the same victory over sin today - right now! Christ's work on the cross means we are no longer “slaves to sin” and can say no to sin today while we are still living. The victory is supposed to happen now - not some time in the future when we die. The work of Christ is sufficient to justify us and to completely sanctify us; giving us true victory so we stop sinning.
Am I seeking to stop sinning or have I actually stopped? To be born of God means that I have His supernatural power to stop sinning. The Bible never asks, "Should a Christian sin?" The Bible emphatically states that a Christian must not sin. - Oswald Chambers, "My Utmost for His Highest", August 15 Read More
“If anyone is in Christ he is a new creation. The old is gone and the new has come” – 2 Cor. 5:17. Are you a sinner or a saint? I was once a sinner before Christ, but now that I am in Christ I am a saint. I was a sinner saved (justified) by grace. Now I am a saint that is being sanctified by that same “grace that brings salvation and has appeared to all men. It teaches me to say no to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live a self-controlled, upright and godly life in this present age (today)”. – Titus 2:11. That is amazing grace which changes me both today and for eternity. That is what Christ completed on the cross.

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Gord said...

I would like to make some additional comments concerning this post, Eric.

Don't get me wrong, I am not debating the truth of your post, I just want to add to it.

Everything you point out in your post is the truth and Christians today say, quite non-challantly, that, "I am just a sinner saved by grace," to excuse their habitual sin, which I think is what the crux of the matter really is.

But, I want to elaborate on the quote from Oswald Chambers. These are the next sentences of that quote that continues Chambers thoughts...

"The work of the new birth is being effective in us when we do not commit sin. It is not merely that we have the power not to sin, but that we have actually stopped sinning. Yet 1 John 3:9 does not mean that we cannot sin — it simply means that if we will obey the life of God in us, that we do not have to sin." Oswald Chambers, "My Utmost for His Highest," August 15th.

I don't believe God excuses sins in the manner most Christians think he does when we say "I am just a sinner saved by grace." I also agree that this cheapens grace and the work of the cross.

However, I must also add that we do, realistically, still live in a fallen world. Does this mean I am not a saint, but a sinner? NO. I am still a saint, thanks to the atoning and completed work of Christ. Yes, I have the power to NOT sin. Does this mean that I do not sin? NO, it doesn't. Does this mean I am not a saint? NO. I am a sinner saved by grace but not in the way we tend to dismiss our sins by quoting that phrase as a mantra or cliche to excuse ourselves whenever we do sin. God is the one who justifies and forgives our sins, not us or our status as Christians. We are simply saints that still sin occasionally. This is what I call the paradox of grace. I am not just a sinner, I am also a saint!

When we are truly honest with ourselves, with God, and with others, we will still say we are "sinners saved by grace" but with a renewed confidence that we indeed are saints but that, regretably, we still do occasionally sin. (Note that I said, occasionaly, not habitually.)

In a nutshell, when we say "I am a sinner saved by grace," are we stressing that we are sinners or that we are saints? Do we say it as if we couldn't help but sin?

If we tend to say it as a tactic to downplay our sin and chalk it up to our still being sinners, stressing our sinfulness, despite Christ's atoning work, then we cheapen grace.

But, If we tend to say it with an assurance that, despite our sins and failings, we can be assured that we are saints bought and paid for by Christ's atoning work on the cross 100%. (Because it was not our intention to sin)

See the difference? We either stress our sin or we stress Christ. Its that simple.

So, my lengthy post - sorry - was just to make that point. We are sinners as well as saints, but with the emphasis on our status as saints not sinners. Thanks to Jesus, our Lord and Saviour. Amen.

So, Eric, I agree with your post but, we must have a complete perspective. I hope I made sense and conveyed what I wanted to say without confusion. We may still sin but we don't have to. We are still saints even when we occasionally do sin.

Like Oswald Chambers puts it, its a matter of being obedient to the life of God in us.

Thanks for your post. It made me think of the wonders of grace yet again.

A fellow saint,

Eric Jones said...

You added some good content here. I would like to say that "I write this so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One." - 1 John 2:1-2 When we are truly living for Jesus he goes to our defense and can tell the Father that this isolated sinful act is not characteristic of us and we are cool. You are right to make the distinction between an occasional (uncharacteristic) sin and habitual sin (continuing in sin).

I gotta also say that I believe God can completely and thoroughly sanctify us so that we can be without sin. Is that a reality yet in my life? Not every day, but it is many days. Progress is being made as I actively respond to the process Jesus started in my life. His Word says that I can live victorious over sin and without it in my life because I am in him. I have the faith that he will accomplish this in my life and I am pressing on toward this incredible prize - by God's grace!

Brian said...

Great post and comments! I still do not see how we will ever be fully sanctified in our fallen nature and world??? But we do need to encourage each other to press on toward the prize!

Like the Phoenix Suns' slogan- keeping their "Eyes On The Prize"- only the Suns will probably never win it all:)

We are assured of our reward!!

Harold said...

1Pet4:18 shows 2 different groups of people. You are either righteous OR ungodly/sinner.
There are no righteous sinners.

1John3:6-9 even says Christians DO NOT SIN.

Unfortunately many misunderstand the scriptures above as they do not use God's definitions of sin. They prefer mans ambiguous definitions and then fall into error.

God's definitions of sin are basically covered by:

1: Mark3:29 Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.
Christians do not sin here.

2: John16:9 Unbelief in Jesus.
Christians do not sin here either.

3: 1John5:17 “all unrighteousness is sin”
Christians are righteous through Christ so here we do not sin.

4: Rom14:23 “whatsoever is not of faith is sin”.
Christians are justified by faith so here we do not sin.

5: 1John3:4 “Sin is transgression of the law” ( This is breaking the 10 commandments which results in a death penalty ).
Christians do not sin here as we are no longer under the law of sin and death. We were SET FREE from it Rom8:2.

Regarding the law of sin and death above it should be noted that "whatever the law says it says to those who are under it" Romans3:19,20.

But "the law was NOT MADE for a righteous person (Christians), but for...the ungodly and for sinners" 1Tim1:9

So regarding Christians who have been crucified with Christ (Gal2:20) and set free free from the law (Rom8:2), "where there is NO LAW there is NO TRANSGRESSION (SIN)" (Rom4:15).

Of course we still see Christians doing wrong ( which often is erroneously referred to as sin due to not using God's definitions), but as sons of God we are chastised for our wrong.

So Scripture clearly shows that Christians are not sinners.
Rom6:2 asks "HOW shall we that are dead to sin, live in it any longer?"

1John3:9 answers this question.
"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".

Remember to use God's definitions of sin to understand scripture.