Dedicated Trekkies who watched the first series of Star Trek knew one truth. I imagine most out of work actors in Los Angeles at that time understood this truth as well. If you were given a red tunic to wear on your first day on the job as a bit actor on the Star Trek set your days were numbered. Your character wouldn’t last long. By the end of your first episode, you’d probably have Doctor McCoy kneeling over you, declaring his catchphrase, “He’s dead, Jim.”
While wearing crimson red was a sign of doom in the old Star Trek series, being covered by the crimson blood of the Lamb saves us from such a fate. We are transformed from sinners to saints.
While we might sin on occasion, we are betraying our new nature when we do so. Sin is to be taken seriously, but we are not to carry the label as sinner once we have become Christ Followers.
But wait. Aren’t we all just sinners saved by grace? No. We WERE sinners who ARE now saved by grace. Am I just playing with semantics here? Absolutely not! How you see yourself – a sinner or saint – makes a huge difference in the way you will live your life. No one can act contrary to the way they believe themselves to be, at least not without a tremendous amount of effort.
But wait, what about that one paragraph in Romans? Read Romans 5-8 in full and in context and grasp the whole message Paul was preaching. Paul was building up to a point, writing in the scholarly style of his day, carefully crafting his argument. Don’t take the soundbites others have clipped from this passage and build a doctrine on a few scriptures.
Paul was pointing to his past life as a Pharisee and the struggle he faced as he tried to keep up with the laws and regulations of his former faith. On the outside, he was keeping up with all the rules, but on the inside, he knew he was a wreck. But then… Jesus intersected his life, filled his heart with empowering grace, and gave him the power to walk free from the bondage of sin.
Colossians 1:2 (NASB) -“To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father.” The word ‘saints’ in Paul’s letter comes from the same word, ‘holy ones.’ Holy means ‘set apart.’ Paul might have called out sin in the ranks of the churches he wrote to, but he always greeted his audience as saints, not sinners.
God creates out of nothing. Wonderful, you say. Yes, to be sure, but He does what is still more wonderful: He makes saints out of sinners. — Soren Kierkegaard
Galatians 2:20 (NASB) – “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” The sinless One dwells within me. I take His identity upon me. Not only did He die for me, but HE also rose for me, and because I am in Christ, I rose as well. Only in MY case, I rose a new creature.
2 Corinthians 5:17 (NASB) – “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”
A final word. The Bible exhorts us to flee from temptation. After all, you don’t get a hero’s badge for purposefully facing temptation as if it were some spiritual showdown at the OK corral. The enemy would love you to believe that just because you face a temptation repeatedly you are a slave to that temptation. However, a nagging temptation is not proof you are a sinner. We don’t all face the same temptations, of course, but what might not be a glimmer of a temptation to you, might be a huge temptation to someone else. You are not the exception to the rule; your temptation is not so great that grace will not strengthen you to overcome it.
The truth is, your identity lies in the grace that empowers you to withstand that temptation. If you stumble and fall, you are still not a sinner; you are someone who sinned and who betrayed your identity as a saint. Yes, you need to pick yourself up, repent, and look in the mirror and remind yourself of your true identity.
Bookmark this list of Bible Verses that speak of our identity in Christ. Grab a verse from that list and chew on it. That’s what the word meditate means in the Christian sense of the word. Chew, ponder, go back to it like a cow chewing her cud.
If you are struggling, reach out to a trusted friend who is not actively sinning in the same area. Hold yourself accountable to the Body of Christ, and they will stand with you against the tempter. Do not allow the enemy to whisper in your ear that facing temptation is a shameful thing that must be fought on your own.
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From November 2020 forward, all Bible verses attributed to the NASB version unless otherwise indicated. Prior to this date, ESV was the common attribution.
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Until Next Week,
©2020 Katherine Walden