The Sinner Saved by Grace Lie

I am a sinner saved by grace. Really?

I know you have heard this statement before. Church people like to profess it in order to stay humble and remind themselves that they are not worthy. The problem is that is not biblical.

Nope, it is not in the Bible.

Here are two versus people use to prove that the statement is true:

Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

Ephesians 2:8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.

Yes, we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and we have been saved by grace, but it is an error to put those two concepts together and come up with we are sinners saved by grace.

Yes, we still sin, but does that mean we are sinners? I know the definition of sinner is one who sins, but we are never called that in the Bible. That definition came about in the 14th century, which was not a great time for Christianity, so maybe they got it wrong.

Biblically, a sinner is one who lives in sin. A resident of sin. You are a sinner, not because you sin, but because you were from sin, the sin nature. It is like being a citizen of a country. You are that resident no matter where you go. If I go to France, I am still an American. If you try to be good, you are still a sinner. The only way to stop being a sinner is to change into something else. That is what happened to us on the cross. We were made into new creations. Paul used the adoption reference to explain it. We stopped being sinners and became saints or sons of God. If I declare French citizenship, I cease being an American even though I still have American thoughts and tendencies. When we become a saint we still have the old sinner mindset, but that is fading away as we draw closer to Christ.

If we are sons of God, we will still sin as we are learning about our new role, but we are no longer sinners. Would God make us a better version of what we were before? No. If we are a better version of the same thing, we could have made ourselves better and would not have needed Jesus. We are different. We are new creations.

It is a shame to see all of those people who profess Jesus not living like it. If you want to think that you are just a sinner and that is the way you are, I really don’t think God will kick you out of His presence. All you are doing is missing out on who you are and your role in God until you enter into Heaven. Your choice.



Filed under Christianity

4 responses to “The Sinner Saved by Grace Lie

  1. The phrase, “A sinner saved by grace” could refer to the before-and-after conversion sequence. I think it is often used that way in baptist circles (cf. Rom. 5:8). One may also be excused for thinking that Paul applied even the derogatory connotation of “sinner” to himself, then also a foremost example of the patience and mercy of God, 1 Tim. 1:15: “I am [present tense] the foremost [sinner].”

    Perhaps more to the point here, the believer’s position in Christ does not seem anywhere to encourage the notion that we will achieve perfection in this life, despite perfection as a goal. Rather, we are ever to listen to the exhortation to put to death our sinful nature because we died with Christ. Paul’s indicative (you are in Christ or died with Christ, and so on) is always accompanied by the imperative (act as if you are in Christ, etc.); grace and demand always accompany each other.

    In my view, you rightly sense the believer’s stubborn unbelief in grace and in the indicative stuff. Paul saw the same in his day. It’s my problem too. And as in Paul’s day, there is still a need for the imperative, for if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us (to borrow this time from John rather than Paul). The indicative (you are) and the imperative (you must) always accompany each other.

    • Xander

      I look at your reference a bit differently.

      1 Tim 1:15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.
      Jesus came to save sinners, of whom I am the worst. If we are the ones to say this, we are saying we are the worst sinner, not Paul. By reducing ourselves to the lowest, we don’t have to worry about being boastful in our superiority over another. If we are the worse, we will always need Jesus.

      I say that, because in the next verse, Paul is talking past tense.
      1 Tim 1:16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.
      Jesus had shown him mercy because he was the worst of sinners. If he continued to be the sinner, wouldn’t Jesus need to continually show Him mercy in that area? If that is the case, then His complete and final victory over sin wasn’t accomplished on the cross.

      Besides, are we not made perfect in Christ? Do we really need to wait to be made perfect in Him or has it not already happened? If I am in Christ, I am made perfect. I don’t have to wait for this to happen. As long as I abide in Him, this is never a worry. It is when I remove myself through rebellion, that I slip and sin occurs. Therefore, I must stay in Him.

      I agree that we will sin while still in our earthly bodies; maybe in our heavenly ones too. I do not think of my identity as that of the imperfect sinner. I am the perfected son of God. If I see myself in that role and operate in that role, I am more able to move in the will of God and avoid rebellion / sin.
      Thanks for the comment

  2. Luke in his Acts of the apostles use stories Paul (among others) to represent the growth of the church and spread of the gospel. Luke uses Paul’s Damascus Road conversion story three times, suggesting its importance to Luke-Acts. For Luke the author, the church persecutor turns to being persecuted on behalf of the church. Paul becomes a showcase of both mercy and, more on Luke’s mind, of following Jesus in suffering for righteousness sake and for the gospel.

    In 1 Tim 1:15, Paul says literally that he is the “first” or foremost sinner, and he becomes an example or model (v. 16) of God’s mercy. Again, Paul is a showcase (as are believers generally, Eph. 2:7).

    Paul also says he is not worthy to be called an apostle because he persecuted the church and tried to thwart God’s kingdom (1 Cor. 15:9). Translating “worst” in 1 Tim. 1:15 is apt.

    But that was not my first-paragraph point in responding to your post. Let me try that again in other wording: Reckoning himself as having received mercy (1 Tim. 1:16), Paul labels himself in the present tense as a sinner. As a Christian, he says “I am a sinner,” particularly because of his past history of persecuting the church. He is not saying that as a Christian he still persecutes Jesus and His followers and needs forgiveness for that all over again. Or how else do you explain the present tense of “I am a sinner”?

    Of course, if you agree with my argument, it still does not entirely address your argument. Paul would surely agree with us that there is or ought to be a difference in behavior and in standing before God as measured before and after a person’s conversion, whether converted on the road to Damascus or elsewhere.

    But your argument seems to go further, and I think that needs clarification.

    You wrote, “are we not made perfect in Christ? Do we really need to wait to be made perfect in Him or has it not already happened? If I am in Christ, I am made perfect. I don’t have to wait for this to happen.”

    What do you mean by perfect, and more importantly, how do you support the claim from Scripture? The old fashioned meaning used to include the possibility of “complete.” If by “perfect,” you mean sinless, as is more likely nowadays, how is it possible to slip from abiding in Him, as you feel is possible? Perhaps you imply perfection in this life is a kind of plateau which affords stability with the possibility of falling off. I would at least agree that belief ought to manifest itself in action; without fruit, there is no root, if you will.

    Perhaps that is enough to spark your clarification. Be that as it may, you may also be helped by my attempt at reconciling the indicative and imperative, namely “the already and the not yet.” Believers in this life are`BOTH already “in Christ,” “seated in the heavenly places,” recipients of every spiritual blessing in Christ, AND ALSO daily at war with the world, the flesh and the devil and in need of exhortation and heeding Jesus’ commands–simultaneously perfect and imperfect, if you will, depending on what is meant by “perfect.”

    How the above is entirely possible, I am not sure, but it seems the best harmonization of the Scripture’s ideas so far as I can tell. Part of what seems a reasonable explanation is the idea of forensics (legal declaration), so much a part of the mainstream 15th century Protestant Reformation and Paul’s idea of justification. God reckons His own as just (because of the cross) while they must also grow in just behavior. Part of the daily process of winning the battle with sin is continually to reckon oneself dead to it (Romans 6).

    (Note also the work of the Holy Spirit: Work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose, Phil. 2. May God help us!)

    • Xander

      To profess being a sinner in that context, Paul would be saying that even though he has been forgiven of all sins, he still abides in sin. One can not abide both in sin and in Christ. You can’t have the two masters. But, what I was trying to say was that the statement in 1:15 is true for all of us. My sins and sinner life where far worse than that of Paul, so I am foremost the worse of the sinners and needing grace and mercy more than all else. Paul is always humble in his communication and his approach to the kingdom. You pointed out how Paul said he is not worthy to be an apostle, but yet he defends his apostleship in 2 Corinthians. To his audiences, he would profess to be the most Jewish one among them in order to show that it is right to move out of that religious mindset. I think he is doing the same thing here.

      Matt 5:48, Jesus says to be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect. Luke 6:40, Jesus says the students will not be above the Teacher but will be fully like the Teacher. Hebrews 10:14 says that by Jesus’ sacrifice, He has made perfect forever those that are being made holy. 1 Col 1:28 says to be made perfect in Christ. Jesus is perfect. If I am in Jesus, then how can perfection (Jesus) contain imperfection (Me) and yet remain perfect? The perfect has to make the imperfect perfect if you will, thus the new creation. Jesus is complete, lacking nothing. Same argument goes; how can Jesus being complete if I am in Him? I have to be made complete.

      The argument I keep finding out there is that perfection comes when we are gathered unto Christ. Why are we not perfect now? I am forgiven for all sins now even though I will sin in the future. The only way that can happen is for the forgiveness to occur at the time of judgment, yet the forgiveness is realized now. Why is perfection so different?

      I misspoke when I said to stop abiding in Him as slipping. You remove yourself from His presence when you sin, but that doesn’t mean you are no longer saved. One doesn’t accidentally renounce Jesus.

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