Thursday, August 04, 2005

Sinner Or Saint?

For non-Christians, it's not an issue that comes up much. Even in Christian circles you might say that it comes up, but it's not really an issue. Are you a sinner or a saint? Joe non-Christian probably wouldn't call himself a saint, but it's unlikely he considers himself a sinner either. In fact, if you told him he is a sinner, I doubt that he'd even spend a whole lot of energy arguing with you. He probably doesn't care. A self-righteous non-believer would say that Joe Christian is just as much a sinner as he is. So now what?

If Joe C. is going to say something instead of walking away all awkward and stuff, what's it gunna be? A common response would be something like, "Well, I do have my downfalls and weaknesses, but I'm a work in progress. You're right- I'm a sinner just like you. But with the help of Jesus, I'm trying to quit smoking, and I don't drink as much as I used to..." and on and on.

Another common response would be, "WRONG! I haven't missed a church service in twenty-two years, and neither has my daddy. I know my bible like the back of my hand, and I can quote any verse in the New Testament at will. I serve communion and I do this and I do that and also the other thing. And I do it all in the Precious Name of JEEE-SUS-ahh!"

When the question of sinner-or-saint is asked of a Christian, the stakes go up. Your answer, and your reasons for believing it, really are the foundation your life is built on. Your understanding of your identity at its core will shape the way you live. Many Christians would relate to the first example above: A big part of their lives consists of trying hard not to sin. They would readily admit that they are sinners, and point to the Apostle Paul's confession that "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst." (1 Timothy 1:15) From time to time I also hear, "We're all just sinners in need of forgiveness". Another of Paul's verses often quoted by this camp is, "For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing." (Romans 7:19, usually quoted with a nervous chuckle) But if Christians are no different than non-Christians, then why did Jesus have to die?

Those Christians who would relate to the second example would be the people non-Christians would say fill most churches: The self-righteous hypocrite. They're the co-stars in the gospels, particularly Matthew chapter 23. The "Woe to you" chapter, where Jesus lays into the scribes and pharisees (churchy types) for their hypocrisy. Whoa. In that chapter Jesus pretty much reveals who they are and their view of themselves, so I'm not going to do that here. You can go read it if you want to. I'll wait here. (Hmm hmm hmmm.....)

Much of the church today dodges the question (in my view) by saying that Christians are "sinner-saints". We are sinners because we sin, and we are saints because we are forgiven.
I have big problems with that. (Are you getting nervous?) I'll just say it. I am not a sinner, I am a saint. And if you are a true believer, that's who you are, too. Did you notice that? I didn't say, "And if you go to church, you're not a sinner" or if you quit smoking dope or if you go to seminary and become a pastor or priest, or if you serve communion, or if you confess your sins to God or anyone else, or if you quit sleeping around, or downloading tunes off the internet that aren't yours (huh?) or swearing... None of those things can make you a saint. Maybe you knew that and maybe you didn't. They're all good things, I suppose, or at least they're okay things. Oddly enough, none of those things can make you a sinner either. Because you were born a sinner, before you did any of those things, good or bad. And you'll stay a sinner all your life (and all eternity for that matter) unless you are born again. I don't mean to spout verses, but just so you know I'm not making it up, here's three:

"Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again." " How can a man be born when he is old?" Nicodemus asked. "Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born!" Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.' " (John 3:3-7)

" For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God." (1 Peter 1:23) and also "No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God." (1 John 3:9)

That verse from 1 John 3 has been the subject of TONS of controversy. I have to wrap this up for now. I don't know what time will be posted here because the clock on my little blogger deal here says 10:33 PM(That must be when I started this post), but my watch says it's 12:51 AM, and my mind is saying, "You have to work in the mornig." Morning. Sometimes my mind doesn't spell all that well. But before I quit, I WILL say that I once was a sinner, but no more. And it's not because I quit drinking. The reason I am no longer a sinner is because I believe. Believe what? That Jesus's sacrifice (His death on the cross) is sufficient to blot out ALL my sin. As my pastor once said, "We weren't just sinners who needed to be forgiven. God didn't just look at our sin with a wink and say, 'Aw, it's alright come and give me a hug.' We were dead men who needed new life."

Jesus gave me that new life. I've been reborn, "recreated" according to 2 Corinthians 5:17 "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"
You might say the sinner has gone, the saint has come!

I almost hope someone disagrees, or at least asks for clarification or builds on something because there's so much here that still needs to be said (Like exactly what I mean when I say "Sinner" because after all this there are SOME ways in which I'd say I am a sinner!), but I don't want to type it all at once. I'd rather type what needs to be said. Or maybe I'll do like a Part 2 or something. I wonder if I'll be able to get up in the morning. Pray for me, k? :)


Blogger cybeRanger said...

Praise the Lord for your inspiring thoughts... Have a blessed weekend!

August 05, 2005 11:07 PM  
Blogger DErifter said...

Thanks, Cyberanger. I dropped by your blog yesterday- pretty busy place for one so new! Blessings to you.

August 05, 2005 11:51 PM  
Blogger cybeRanger said...

All the Glory be to God. It's all about Him! HalleluYah!:)

August 06, 2005 1:49 AM  
Blogger TE said...

I sent a message a few minutes ago but I don't think it went through. So I'll say it again. Cool car. I would give anything to catch a Northern Pike. I've wanted to catch one ever since I was a kid. I just read this post and agree completely. ( sorry, I guess you will have to wait for someone else to disagree with you.)
As far as church is concerned, I don't have a problem with it at all. I probably sounded like it though. It's just that so many Christians seem to believe that serving in their church on Sunday morning satisfies their Christian duty for the week. (Not all, but many) Church should be the place where we are prepared for our duty to best explain the gospel and answer the questions people have during the rest of the week. Many churches today are promoting the idea that God is ready to serve Christians if they have enough faith or follow their preachers 10 steps to the lifestyles of the rich and healthy. I'm not saying all churches teach this, I know they don't, but many mega churches do. It sounds like your in a great church from what I've read.
Thanks again for commenting on my blog.
I'll be back.

August 23, 2005 8:44 PM  
Blogger DErifter said...

Hi TE,
Your first message turned up under another post. It was so nice you said it twice, eh? Hey, I really wasn't hoping that someone would disagree. I just get a little pumped up sometimes and I think I wasn't quite ready to quit yet when I was writing that post.

Keep going on your blog! I'll be checking in now and then.

August 23, 2005 9:31 PM  

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