See, that right there is a problem.
You’re identifying yourself both as a sinner and as saved by grace.
Not getting my point?
Let me explain.
See, there’s a difference between sin – the verb, and sin – the noun.
Someone is a sinner in God’s eyes based on sin the noun.
See, when Adam sinned, he caused every human being born after him to be born into sin, the noun.
And the narrative we as Christians often give non-believers is,
“There are no amount of right things you can do to get saved. You need to accept Jesus into your life.”
And that is true, because it is sin the noun, the sin in them through Adam, that’s making them a sinner.
But behold, Jesus steps in.
And through His death and resurrection the price for sin (that came from Adam, the noun) was paid, and through believing in Him, we are born AGAIN.
Not into sin as we were initially, but into righteousness, Christ’s righteousness.
Therefore, your new identity is no longer sinner, but righteous. You are righteous.
And so you ask, “How can I call myself righteous and yet I still sin?”
See, the confusion here is because you’re mixing sin – the verb and sin – the noun.
God called us sinners, not because of our actions, but because of the sin nature that we received through Adam.
No matter how many right things we did, they didn’t make us righteous. We had to believe in Jesus.
In the same way, now that we are born again in Christ, the old sin nature has gone, and we now have a new one, a righteous nature.
Our sinning (the verb) does not change our nature (righteous), in the same way that our right deeds while we were sinners didn’t chang our nature then (sinner).
That right there is the Gospel people. Jesus came and died for us on the cross, and an exchange took place. He who knew no sin, He who never committed any sin, became sin, and bore the wrath of God for the sins of the whole world, so that we in exchange, would receive his righteousness, be justified, be declared righteous.
In the Old Testament, the Israelites had to bring a sacrificial animal offering for the atonement of their sins. They would present the high priest at the temple with a sacrifice, and he in turn would inspect the animal, not the sinner, to see if it had any spot or blemish. If the animal was pure, the sacrifice would be accepted and the sinner would go scotfree. Ladies and gentlemen, that is the same thing that happened with Jesus.
Jesus, the perfect, sinless lamb of God, presented Himself to God on the cross as a sacrifice for our sin. God inspected Him and found Him to be an acceptable sacrifice, and so the sins of the whole world were placed on Jesus, and we go scotfree. An exchange took place: our sin for His righteousness. And so we no longer need to call ourselves sinners, because God calls us righteous. Yes, we were once sinners, but we are now saved by grace, and are now righteous, not because of what we do, but because of what Jesus did.
Jesus on the cross became a sinner, and was treated as a sinner, yet He committed no sin. He did this so that you and I, today, may be called righteous, and treated by God as righteous, not because of what we do, but because of what He did.
And so what about our sinful actions? Well, when we got saved, our spirit, the core part of our being, was changed. However, we still maintained the same mind and body. And so it is the process of renewing our mind, aligning our thoughts to those of God’s Word, that then results in our actions changing to conform to who we truly are in our spirits, righteous.
We do this from a position of knowing we are accepted and declared righteous before God not because of our obedience, but because of Jesus’ obedience. We no longer need to worry about whether God accepts us when we sin. It’s a done deal. We’re accepted. Christ was rejected on the cross so that we might be accepted, both now and forever. And so when we fall, when we stumble, when we sin, we can quickly get up and keep on following Jesus, because in the same way falling into mud doesn’t make us mud, falling into sin doesn’t make us sinners. You may fall here and there, but that doesn’t change who you are at the core. A righteous, accepted, justified son/daughter of God.
Accept your new identity. Own it. You were a sinner, but you’re now saved by grace. You are righteous.
PS: “Why is accepting my identity and seeing myself as righteous important anyway?” Well, that may just form the content of my follow up post. Stay tuned 🙂