I Am Forgiven!

It may help you to read one of my earlier blogs before reading this one.

Did you know that the Bible never refers to Christians as “sinners”? We are called Children of God, Beloved, Brethren, and a lot of very complimentary things that we don’t deserve, but we are never called sinners.

This doesn’t mean, of course, that we do not sin. In fact, we sin a great deal. We still need forgiveness, and we still need continual grace even after we’ve accepted Christ as our savior, because we are not made perfect until the day we walk through Heaven’s gates. It is for this reason that we must come humbly to God, and to others – we know that we have sinned and are undeserving of God’s love.

The pastor at my church recently defined humility for the congregation as something close to “looking at life, and others in your life, through the lens of your own sins” and reminded us that “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6) I think that is a beautiful way of looking at humility, and personally, sometimes I need to be reminded that “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) “All” includes me.

But it has been on my heart recently to make something known to you all: being humble is not the same as feeling guilty!

Allow me to explain.

True joy in life comes from knowing, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that God has forgiven you for your sins, and will forgive you for your future sins if you only confess them (1 John 1:9). “It is finished” (John 19:30); there is nothing left for us to do in the matter. We are saved by Jesus’s blood on the cross, and we cannot add anything to His sacrifice to make it more meaningful. It would be arrogant for us to believe that any number of good works on our parts could possibly earn Jesus’s death for us, or to think that His death is not enough.

Most Christians acknowledge the above points fairly easily. Where we stumble is on what is not so obvious – the flip-side of the same coin. If we cannot add works to Jesus’s suffering to further our own salvation, we cannot subtract them (by adding sins) to reverse the process, either. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1) No matter what you do now, Christ will forgive whatever sins you confess to Him, because you are a Child of God.

The devotional I’m currently reading, Who I Am In Christ by Dr. Neil T. Anderson, says that we are not “sinners who are forgiven,” but “saints who sin.” In reality, “saints who sin” are sinners, because a “sinner” is one who sins. But the distinction Dr. Anderson is making isn’t necessarily one that matters in reality, but only in our perception of ourselves. If we consider ourselves sinners, we will go through life feeling worthless, guilty, and undeserving of the salvation of Christ. But if we realize that we are loved by the Lord, that He accepts us the way we are, and that we are in fact His “saints,” it is much easier to recover from a fall, because we know that we are on the right path, even if we stumble or get a little lost along the way.*

I say to you that humility, and taking joy in Christ’s love for you, are superior attitudes to guilt. Feelings of worthlessness and discouragement are not what God has designed for you; in fact, they can be tools of the Deceiver himself. If we focus solely on our own sinfulness and the reasons that we should not have salvation, our continual failures will only lead us down a road that will try to convince us that it is futile to even continue trying to cultivate a relationship with Christ. It is possible to become so disheartened that we will turn away from God, believing that we are too sinful, that He must be exasperated with us, and that the Christian life is too hard. This is never what our Father wants for us!

Instead, we are instructed to be encouraged, not discouraged. Take joy in the sacrifice Jesus made for you, despite the fact that you do not feel you deserve it. If you allow yourself to love the Lord instead of feeling constantly indebted to Him, you will be so much more useful to Him as a vessel of His goodness and glory. (Philippians 1:6).

Therefore, do not feel unworthy of Jesus’s sacrifice for you. God knows all; He knew what He was doing and who He was saving long before He even sent His son to Earth. But He did it anyway; He did it because He loves us. (John 3:16). Do not reject the sacrifice of what was so tender and dear to Him simply because of feelings of guilt – those feelings are not inspired by the Lord.

“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” (Hebrews 3:13)

*A distinction must be made here between Dr. Anderson’s assertions and those made in Caleb Osborne’s Christ Through Me, which I argued against in the blog linked at the top of this page. The theses appear similar, but they are in fact markedly different. Whereas Dr. Anderson argues that we should not consider ourselves “sinners who have salvation” but “saints who sin,” Caleb Osborne simply asserts that we are no longer sinners. Mr. Osborne also asserts that Christians no longer need forgiveness, and that we should not change our behavior when we become Christians. There is a big difference between believing that we have God’s grace even though we sin (Dr. Anderson’s assertion), and believing that we do not sin (Mr. Osborne’s assertion).


Helpful Linguistic Hints: Cavalry vs. Calvary

I’ve decided to share my gift with all of you.

When I was a little girl, my parents put me in a private school. In private school, at the age of eight, I learned how to differentiate between the parts of speech, how to diagram sentences, and the absolutely pertinent information that “one persuades to, and convinces that.”

The consequence of all this is that I have a pitiful obsession with grammar. Tragically, this consumes my life. But lucky for you, this means receiving helpful (if unwelcome) linguistic hints every time I get feverish over a typo.

This week’s topic: Cavalry vs. Calvary

Calvary, for those who don’t know, is the hill atop which Christ was crucified. You can read about it on handy-dandy wiki here. (Those of you familiar with the movie “Dogma” may know it by another name.)

Cavalry are infantrymen in state militias. The great Mel Gibson, for instance, headed up the cavalry in “The Patriot”; the smash hit blockbuster “We Were Soldiers” was also all about cavalrymen.

Henceforward, please make a distinction between the two. If I have to watch one more documentary on the History channel on which learned “historians” discuss the way that the calvary charged in and won a battle, I will have to quit the English language altogether.

Thank you.

P.S. – The word “definitely” does not have an “a” in it anywhere.