Am I that vain that I can say I am not a sinner? Well, I am human, so I do have vanity within me, but trust me, that is not the reason for me saying, “I am not a sinner.” I will do the best I can to explain this.
Let me begin by defining some terms.
Sinner: A noun. One who falls short of God’s standard of perfection. Your entire positional identity.
Saint: A noun. In Christ. Holy, sanctified, set apart for Christ’s work. Your new identity.
My Identity as a Saint
I am a saint, holy, sanctified, set apart for Christ’s work. In Brian’s words, I am “included.” Through Christ’s death on the cross, He covered my sins and made me a new creation. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old [a sinner] has gone, the new [a saint] has come.” Make a mental note of that “the old has gone.” Romans 5:8 states, “But God demonstrates His love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Notice “we were still sinners.” That is past tense, my friend. I firmly believe that Paul had grasped onto the fact that as Christians, we are saints. That is why he often started his letters “to the saints of…”
Interesting Note: There are roughly 45 references to Christians as “Saints,” 40 as “Holy,” and five as sanctified as compared to a whopping four as “Sinners.”
Please note that these numbers are approximations, but relatively accurate.
There is quite a difference in those numbers. Do you think maybe God is trying to get something across to us? One thing I do not understand is how it is possible to proclaim what Nehemiah 8:10 states – “Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength” – when we walk around in shame proclaiming, “But I am a sinner,” “I am a failure”? Granted, Nehemiah did, but as Christians we don’t have to. We as Christians need to grab onto the fact that Christ died on the cross for our sins. What is the Christian faith other than that through the acceptance of His death and resurrection we receive salvation? The slate is wiped clean; we are new, we are included.
My Sinful Backpack
I don’t want to give the wrong impression that I am saying I am sinless. If I gave you that impression, I apologize. Though I am a Saint (the noun meaning, Holy, Set Apart for the Lord’s work), I still struggle with my sinful nature. But joy can be found in this: my sinful nature no longer defines me, but due to my human imperfection, it lingers. Like a backpack that, though I let it go once, I pick up and feel the aches from every once and awhile. It is separate from me but still a reality I, through the Spirit, work to overcome. By proclaiming the fact that I am a saint, I proclaim that Christ is what defines me from now on. Yeah, I’ll screw up. I always do. But when God sees me, He sees His Son and what He did for me. How amazing is that?
The fact that I live in Jesus is much more exciting than proclaiming the sad fact that I am a defeated sinner. The Gospel is not a club used to beat me down when I’m feeling low. It is good news and should be shared that way. Yes, we need to share that all are sinners and fall short of the glory of God, but there is more to it. God pulled us out of that so we could live in something different. Live in that sainthood today.
So what do I do with my new identity as an included saint? Do I sin more that grace may increase? No! (Romans 6:1-2). My status as a saint does not mean I have overcome sinful action. At times I find myself picking up my sinful backpack without even knowing it. “What is this heaviness? How did this get on my back?” But it means now I can put it back down. I am Spirit-empowered to do so. Praise God!
I am a saint, I am included, holy, and sanctified by Christ’s death on the cross. I no longer need to strive to be good enough, I have been made alive, and I will live with that joy daily and praise God for it continually.