Brace yourselves for a shocking and mind blowing announcement.
Are you ready?
Are you sitting down?
I, Jess Hays, was wrong about something.
I know, I know, I’m as shocked as you are about this but hopefully we can get through this difficult time together.
Back in November of 2013 I wrote a blog entitled “The SinnerSaint.” In it I presented the idea that we are at all times simultaneously sinner and saint. I went on to discuss the argument that we are holy spirits occupying a broken body and at war with a sinful soul. In essence I was saying, “We’re pretty screwed up but God still loves us anyway.”
At the time this was a compelling argument, radical even compared to what I had believed for such a long time. As I dissect it now, I realize that it was really my attempt to reconcile the destruction and devastation that I am so often bent towards and the far more radical reality that God relates to me as a holy being.
As I think about it now I realize that I fell for a false but common way of thinking, the belief that my behavior is my identity. I think we all believe this in some way or another, that what we do is who we are. I mean think about it, if I lie am I not a liar? If I cheat, a cheater? If I murder, a murderer? If I sin, well then doesn’t that make me a sinner? This is how humanity labels one another—by our actions. Even Batman says, “It’s not what’s underneath but what you do that defines you.”
As devastating as it is to admit, Batman and God sometimes disagree and this is one such case. As soon as we take in Christ’s perfect sacrifice we are immediately and completely made righteous, holy, perfect, and beautiful in the eyes of the Father. This makes complete sense since because from what I’ve read about God He’s an all or nothing kind of guy, I mean, you don’t really ever see Him doing things halfway. Oneness with Christ means all of Him in all of me, no half way, no sorta kinda, but ALL. There are SOOOOOOOOOO many verses in the Bible (I’ll add some to the end of this post) that talk about us being righteous and perfect I just can’t see how we can call ourselves sinners anymore.
See, because divinity works differently than we do. In Christ, our identity is not rooted in what we do but rather what has been done for us. Who we are then becomes founded in who He is. He doesn’t just pitch a tent in the corner of your identity; He is intimately and eternally fused with every part of who you are.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re reading this and thinking, “Yeah that sounds really cool and all but I still do sinful things, like a lot, and how can I be completely perfect if I sin all the time?”
First of all, join the club! Secondly, to that doubt I say this—our belief always affects our behavior. Here is how sly Satan is, he convinces us that our behavior determines our identity thus causing us to BELIEVE that we are sinners which in turn causes us to BEHAVE like sinners. Talk about a vicious cycle! I recently used the analogy of a girl who is anorexic. Every day she looks in the mirror and she sees herself as fat. The true reflection may be skin and bones but in her eyes she is bulges and cellulose. Because she sees herself this way she will continue to starve herself. This is how it is with us and sin. Though we are in fact saints as long as we look in the mirror and see a sinner we will continue to behave like one. Satan’s goal is not to make us sin; his goal is to convince us that Jesus hasn’t already paid for it.
A friend of mine said once that he thinks as Christians we worship sin. That’s a pretty harsh statement but I can’t disagree. We preach countless messages on it, we pray about it, we read books on how to stop it, we get mad when other people are doing it, we lead protests and campaigns against it, it sure seems to be our biggest focus. Has sin not become our god?
The bottom line is this we are not sinner saints. We are saints who, more often than not, forget who we are and then behave sinfully. Our identity is not defined by what we do but by what Christ did. May we all take our eyes off of our sin (and everyone else’s) and fix them firmly on the God who makes all things new. May we find new freedom to rest from our efforts to be good people as we become aware of our complete righteousness. May we be liberated to love the people around us based on their identity and not on their actions. And may our minds be renewed each and every day to enlighten us with a deeper understanding of the greatness of His grace.
Galatians 2:20 (NET)
I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So the life I now live in the body, I live because of the faithfulness of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Phillipians 3:15 (NET)
Therefore let those of us who are “perfect” embrace this point of view. If you think otherwise, God will reveal to you the error of your ways.
Romans 4:4-5 (NET)
Now to the one who works, his pay is not credited due to grace but due to obligation. But to the one who does not work, but believes in the one who declares the ungodly righteous, his faith is credited as righteousness.
Romans 8:1-2 (NET)
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the life-giving Spirit in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death.
2 Corinthians 5:21 (NET)
God made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we would become the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 3:17-18 (NET)
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is present, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled faces reflecting the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another, which is from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
Colossians 1:21-22 (NET)
And you were at one time strangers and enemies in your minds as expressed through your evil deeds, but now he has reconciled you by his physical body through death to present you holy, without blemish, and blameless before him