A number of months ago there was a fire in the building next to their favorite Mexican restaurant. The restaurant was not completely destroyed in the fire but it did receive considerable smoke damage and so it was forced to close until repairs could be made.
I think this restaurant was one of those small, family-owned Mexican restaurants, that I picture in the seedier parts of town, but knowing them it wasn’t. Well, it probably was a small, family restaurant but not in the seedy parts of town.
All these months later the restaurant is still closed, repairs are being made slowly as time and funds allow. In the cleverest of stunts to be sure they were not forgotten they did a pop up restaurant. Limited menu, limited seating, limited time. We were there, standing in line with the rest of the crazies just wanting a taste of this iconic establishment.
They brought a couple bowls of chips and salsa, then just before our meal arrived the brought a bigger bowl of chips and what at first glance was a larger bowl of salsa. I thought it interesting, wondering why they brought the large bowl out last.
I wondered until I tried it. Then I realized this was not just a larger bowl of salsa, no, not at all. This was a bowl of sin-filled, and sinful, cheese sauce. The likes of which I’d never had before and likely won’t ever have again.
In the words of Lorelai Gilmore, “I want to take a bath in that sauce!”
My first taste was innocent, I was unaware of the cheesy goodness in that bowl. My next tastes were not so innocent. I took those knowing very, very well what it was and exactly what it would do to me. And I ate it as if I hadn’t eaten in months. I gorged myself on those chips and that sinful cheese dip.
And so it is with all of us. Believer or not, we sin. Sometimes it’s an innocent “oops”, we simply didn’t know, didn’t think. It’s still a sin, it still sent Jesus to the cross but there was no malicious forethought. Then we continue, because it tastes and feels so good. We know the consequences will not be good and we will regret it in five minutes so we keep eating it, keep trying to keep the consequences away. Until later that night, or the next morning when our over-indulgence has caught up with us.
Believing in Jesus gives us choices we didn’t have before. Before we are In Jesus and before His Life-Giving-Spirit indwells us, we have no choice to sin. It’s our identity. We are a sinner. But then Jesus comes in, places us in Him, indwells us, and suddenly we have a new identity, a new nature. New choices open up to us in an eyes-wide-open-in-wonder-type of way. Jesus now calls us saints.
If we are called saints,set apart ones, holy ones, how can we persist and insist on an identity that says we are a sinner? That the old identity, controlled by the enemy–who longs to keep us enslaved to do his bidding and not walk free as the creation Jesus says we are.
To say we are both “saint” and “sinner” is to be a schizophrenic Christian at best. A sinner will not produce good fruit, a pond will not give salt water.
A saint/sinner identity means you live a life of both blessing and cursing all at the same time. This is not possible! You either walk in your new identity of saint of your old identity of sinner, not both.
You are–if you are indwelt with the Breath of Jesus–a saint who sins, not a sinner who saints.
How can a Holy God live in something contrary to His character without changing the vessel He lives in? James 3:10-12 is speaking specifically about the tongue but I think it applies here since the tongues only speaks what is in the heart and mind.
Every sin is a choice, whether made consciously (like my continued eating of the cheese), or unconsciously, we make the choice to sin and sometimes our sinful reactions come out because we don’t realize how dead our old self is. We have choices in reaction and response. We cannot serve both God and satan, the Savior and self. We must choose one. We cannot justify our sinful choice with “that is just how I am. It’s who I am.” We have choices in our behavior, often we are ignorant about it or just too lazy to make the hard decision to change.
If Jesus calls us saints, why do we say we ain’t?
If Jesus calls us friends, why do we continue to try to make amends?
If Paul referred to himself as a saint, why do we think we are different than he was? What makes us so special to get to keep the sinner moniker when he discarded it?
In 1 Timothy 1:15 Paul refers to himself as the foremost sinner, or the worst of the bunch. The word translated “sinner” means “despiser of God.” I hardly believe Paul meant that to refer to himself post Damascus road! Peter comes right out and calls us a Holy People.
Holy people can not also be sinful people.
When we call ourselves a sinner, we are basing our identity on what we do. We are not what we do! We are still human beings and not human doings.
Maybe the issue is our feelings. We don’t feel holy so we aren’t holy. We sin still so we aren’t holy. We try so hard to make ourselves holy, because we are commanded to be holy as He is holy. We are commanded to be, we are not commanded to make ourselves be Holy. We are not commanded to make ourselves work hard to be–to feel–but just to be. This means our holiness is not by our own efforts! Be! Holy!
Be holy in Him. Rest in Him holiness that was imputed to you. Take His declaration of your position as holy and be in it.
Be holy because the God in you is holy.