You are not a “sinner saved by grace”!
Wait, wait… don’t stone me. Let me explain…
For many years, believing Christians have labored under the weight of their own sins. They have bemoaned their pitiable state, they have lamented the terrible things they’ve done, and they have been haunted by a guilty conscience. They have accepted the lie (from the enemy) that they are saddled with a “sin nature” that makes it impossible for them to live a righteous life.
What a horrible way to live! This point of view is so pervasive, most people believe it is a mark of being a Christian. The world’s people think of Christians as guilt-ridden, pathetic, self-loathing creatures- and this gives testimony to why the devil would want us to believe such things. Bearing the burden of a guilty conscience disempowers the believer.
Of course, I agree that without God, we are pitiable creatures. Without God, and without a personal relationship with Him, we can and will do the most horrific things. Jesus came to die as payment for those horrific things-past, present and future. But that’s not the end of the story!
“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”?(Hebrews [10:17])
“My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:1-2)
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John [3:16]-17)
As we read in the book of Hebrews, God promises that He will “remember our sins no more”. Elsewhere in the Bible (Psalm 103) He promises to cast our sins as far from us as East is from the West-that’s pretty far!
When Jesus paid the penalty for all of mankind’s wrongdoing, and when we as individuals accept the gift of that payment, our sins are forgiven. Our slate is wiped clean. We are free to stand before God having been made pure by his own Son.
If we continue to feel that we somehow need to pay for our sins over and over again, by constantly lamenting our past, it’s as if we are spitting in God’s face. It’s as if we are saying, “What Jesus did was not enough. I have to keep paying for my sins.” That’s not what the Lord instructs us to do.
Because of the sacrifice that Jesus made on our behalf, we can approach the throne of God boldly, having been made pure and righteous by Jesus himself. What a wonderful gift! When we accept that gift, we give up the right to criticize it, or to accuse the gift of not being enough of a gift. That only insults the giver.
Now you may say, “Yes, but what about the sins I committed after I accepted Jesus? What about my future sins? Heck, what about that gesture I made in traffic today?”
Here’s something to think about: on the day that Jesus hung on the cross, every one of your sins was… a future sin. He saw them all. Even the ones you haven’t committed yet. And, because of His great love for you, after looking at all those sins, your Creator said, “I will pay for that.”
No wonder the early church spent so much time rejoicing!
I believe it is our duty as Christians to recapture the joy of the gift Jesus has given us. It is time for us to put off the robes of mourning, and to put on the clothing of joy and thanksgiving. It is time for us to go and share this good news with everyone we know.
It gets even better.
The Bible says we, as believers, are to “reign in life”. Yes, it’s right there in the Bible!
“For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.” (Romans [5:17])
You Are No Longer Punishable!
For so long, Christians have struggled with the question: “Why do I continue to sin, even though I know it’s wrong?”
The explanation that has traditionally been given is that we have a “sin nature” that makes it impossible for us to please God. In my view, this is simply not true. And it is, in fact, dangerous.
The text in the Bible that is most often used to support the idea of a “sin nature” is the seventh chapter of the book of Romans. This is where Paul writes about the struggle of knowing what one wants to do (that which is right), yet not being able to do that which is right. In fact, doing the opposite. Most people who hold the view that we have a “sin nature” (even after we are saved) believe that Paul, in this chapter, is writing about the present state of believing Christians.
Reading this chapter of Romans in context, however, seems to tell a different story.
The passage that is so often used to support the idea that we have some sort of “sin nature” seems to mean something different entirely when you read it after reading the chapter that comes before. Paul seems to be giving an example of what it’s like when we live under the law (the old covenant). He is clearly showing how it was impossible for anyone to keep the law; and how it was necessary for the law to exist to show us our need for God’s grace. After demonstrating the example of what it’s like living under the condemnation of the law, Paul has something entirely different he wants to talk about.
He celebrates the good news — that we are now free from this predicament — the very predicament he was writing about in Romans chapter 7.
How do we know this is what he meant to say?
Well, it’s important to remember that the chapter divisions were not present in the original Biblical text. So the “stop” at the end of chapter 7 is an artificial device. You have to read about the struggles of chapter 7 and then continue reading into the next sentence-where Paul clearly says “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.”
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.?(Romans 8:1-2 ESV)
In other words, the very struggle to do the right thing that Paul was writing about just a few paragraphs before… is now over. Nullified by Jesus Christ.
Instead of “beating ourselves up” and feeling the spirit of “condemnation” for our sins, we should be celebrating the beautiful gift of forgiveness that God granted us, long before we committed those sins.
Instead of running away from God when we “mess up” (because running away is what most of us do in those times), we have been given the great privilege of running to God, and being encircled in his protective arms, and hearing the words from our daddy, “I’ve already forgiven you.”
And Now We Are To “Reign In Life”
What does it mean exactly to “reign in life”?
I would like to propose to you that it means exactly what it sounds like: that Jesus intends for us to enjoy the benefits of every blessing He has given us.
He intends for us to be without anxiety, to be satisfied, to experience joy, and to be saved, healed, delivered.
How are we to receive these benefits? What do we do in order to get them?
That is the best news of all; we don’t have to do a single thing. Jesus paid it all! All we have to do is receive. Read it for yourself in the passage above from Romans. Who is it that reigns in life?
It is, quite simply, “those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness”.
Grace is the unmerited favor that Christ offers to everyone who will simply say “yes”. The fact that it is unmerited should be a source of great joy to us; it means not only did we not earn it, but also that we can’t lose it! If we did nothing to gain it to begin with, how could we possibly do anything to lose it?
Even more exciting is the gift of righteousness. Righteousness means “right standing with God”. It means that when God looks at us, and we have accepted the gift of eternal life through Jesus, God sees us as righteous. It means that even when we stumble, we are still “right with God”.
Remember that when Jesus died to pay for your sins, all your sins were future sins! So you’re not just “okay for now” – you are “perfected forever”.
What the law could never do, and what we could never do through trying to adhere to the law, Jesus did for us.
And now, we are told that once we have received this abundance and this gift that we will “reign in life”; not in the mystical hereafter, but in life! In the here and now.
So what does it mean if we are not experiencing this thing called “reigning in life”? What does it mean when we are faced with sickness, or lack, or adversity? Should we be discouraged?
By no means! We should know that these circumstances are the work of the enemy. They are not God’s way of “teaching us a lesson” and they are not His will for us. Believing otherwise is the opposite of “receiving the abundance of grace”.
Now be cautious, because this is the point at which it’s easy to fall into feelings of guilt or self-condemnation. If you are experiencing sickness, pain, or adversity, don’t blame God-and also don’t blame yourself.
Simply step up, and receive that which has been freely given to you by the Son of God: the “abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness”. If you are facing any kind of suffering in your life, you might want to pray something like this:
“Father, thank you for the abundance of grace, and the gift of righteousness that you granted me through your mighty work on the cross. Thank you for taking all authority over death and hell. Thank you for the gift of eternal life, and for the privilege of reigning in life through the one, Jesus Christ.”
Watch what God will do for you when you accept his gifts!
What do you think of the idea that we are “unpunishable” under the New Covenant? Leave your comments below!