Sinners or Saints?
by Nicholas St Jon
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Let me ask you a question: "How do you see yourself? As a Sinner saved by Grace? Or As a Saint who occasionally sins?"
Most, and by most I mean typically better than 99% of all "Believers" I ask this question to answer that they are Sinners saved by Grace.
Are there ANY names on the Lamb's Book of Life other than Saints? NO, ONLY Saints!
Revelation 20:15 - "And if anyone's name was NOT found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. "
The better question then is: "How does God see us?" There are only 2 answers, either as unrepentant Sinners or as regenerated, born again, names written in the Lamb's Book of Life Saints. So if God sees us as Saints, then let me suggest that we learn to see ourselves as God sees us.
Were we once Sinners? Yes, then through Grace bestowed upon us by the Lord Jesus Christ, we became Saints. Yet its most often taught from the pulpit and in Bible studies, that we are still to view ourselves as Sinners saved by Grace. As the great Apostle Paul wrote in the book of Romans, "May it never be!".
If you see yourself as a Sinner, how do you expect to act ANY differently than by proving that you are one by sinning? On the other hand, if you will see yourself as a Saint, clothed in the Righteousness of Christ, you will be predisposed to act accordingly.
Bringing us to the account of SIN. The verse that will cause us the MOST problems is 1 John 3:9
1 John 3:9 - "No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God."
Here we see that anyone born of God "cannot", and in the Greek the term is "unable" to sin. So what shall we do when we find ourselves sinning? Either we are NOT born of God or there is a deeper meaning to this verse than is on the surface. I suggest the later, thus alleviating the apparent contradiction within us.
From Galatians 5 we see that there are 2 enmities within us that are at war, the Flesh/Body (that part of us that is corrupted and unable to be regenerated), and the Spirit (that part of us that at one time was "dead" to the Father, being unable to do anything that could please Him, now regenerated and made perfect). The spirit/Spirit wars against the Flesh and the Flesh against the spirit/Spirit. Once born again, God puts within us His Spirit that co-resides with our now alive spirit, so much so that our spirit is so made perfect, that it can ONLY direct us to do what pleases the Father. On the other hand, the Flesh can ONLY direct us to do things that displease the Father, hence the war. All of this is manifested in our Soul, our mind, emotions, and will. If we ONLY took direction from our spirit/Spirit, then we would NEVER sin, in fact, we are unable/cannot sin. So 1 John 3:9 is entirely correct.
So once born again, spirit regenerated, that makes us Saints, having our names written in the Lamb's Book of Life. If we sin, we are still Saints who occasionally sin.
The most horrific question of all then is: "Why would anyone who understands that once we are born again, that we are now Saints, would continue to teach Believers that they are still Sinners?"
The assumption here is that because a man stands behind a pulpit, they have a clear understanding that born again believers are classified by God as Saints. This may be a very flawed assumption. If a preacher knows no better, just as Priscilla and Aquila took Apollos aside to explain the way of God more accurately (Acts 18:26), this may also need to happen for that preacher.
However, once he has understanding, to continue to teach Believers that they are still Sinners would be an egregious sin against the flock. For his job as shepherd is to build up, watch over, protect, and feed the flock, not suppress them, teaching them to think badly of themselves, to remain under bondage, for Galatians 5:1 tells us that it is for freedom's sake that Christ came to set us free.
I can find no other reason to teach Believers that they are to view themselves as Sinners than for the sake of Manipulation, which as the Old Testament equates it, to the sin of Witchcraft.
Some would argue that it is simply a semantics issue. However, just try substituting any of the 10 Commandments in the place of the word Sinner. We Liars, we Murderers, we Adulterers, we Coveters, etc. wouldn't sit so well if in fact we have turned (repented) of our old ways and taken on the new Righteousness of Christ. Just as accusing a former liar of lying would and should stir up within the former liar to correct the inappropriate term levied against them, so should being called Sinners, when in fact we are Saints, cause something within us to rise up and set the record straight. Its NOT just semantics.
Just where are the scriptures that back this up? Romans 1:7 "called as saints"; 1 Corinthians 1:2 "to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."; Ephesians 1:1 "to the saints who are in Ephesus"; Philippians 1:1 "to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi"; Colossians 1:2 "to the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are at Colosssae". Are these letters to a select few? Is there a "different" standard by which people of the New Testament became saints? The answer is a resounding NO.
Unlike the man-made tradition of the Catholic church of proclaiming by an act of voting that a person has lived such an outstanding life, that they should attain to "sainthood", there is absolutely NO scriptural precedence for such an exalted honor.
By God's definition, it is anyone who has repented, become born again, regenerated in spirit, made holy, and by God's providence, set apart, the term is bestowed upon each and every one of us Believers in the work and person of Jesus Christ as Saints.
Saints, who occasionally sin.
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An article to edify the saints. Thank you, Robert