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).

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3 Comments

  1. astudent said,

    March 29, 2007 at 6:53 pm

    Complements are dangerous to those who are complemented. However you write clearly and well. I read the other post and the only thing I remotely disagreed with was that Jesus didn’t preach intolerance. He cleared the Temple twice and was always intolerant of the Pharisees. Think of (Lev 19:17 NIV) “‘Do not hate your brother in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in his guilt.” and do not be afraid to rebuke. The Bible also says Prov 27:5 Better is open rebuke than hidden love. It is good for the one that is rebuked if they are wise.

    “O”, I already know my grammar stinks.
    astudent

  2. sabesi said,

    March 29, 2007 at 7:09 pm

    Thanks for the kind words and insight, astudent.

    (In)tolerance is something I’ve had trouble dealing with in my Christian walk thus far, and I’ve come to the following conclusion, at least for my life personally: I am not afraid to rebuke those I believe are theologically incorrect, heretics, apostates, and the like (hence the blog “In Response to Bigotry”); but I also realize that I myself am far from perfect, and have no power to pass judgement on other people. I will speak up against what I believe is wrong, but I will never condemn my fellow man, saint, or sinner.

    Jesus Himself was certainly intolerant, and urges us to encourage each other on the right path. But because I am not Jesus, perfect, or divine, I try to be more forgiving of others unless I am absolutely positive that my Bible refutes their positions.

    Thanks for reading! 🙂

  3. storbakken said,

    March 29, 2007 at 10:04 pm

    This was a very nice post. Thanks for posting. I look forward to returning to read more posts in the future.


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