There is a little phrase or slogan that is being said quite often in our church generation. That phrase is, âIâm just a sinner saved by grace.â There is even a song that the Gaitherâs sing called âSinner Saved by Grace.â Here are some of the words from the song: âAnd made me what I am today, just an old sinner saved by grace. Iâm just a sinner, saved by grace.â So, is that what we really are? Evidently, many Christians think so, for I hear them say it, and I know many more believe that. I want to deal with this statement, so I ask you to give prayerful consideration to what I will be saying.
I want to start with a simple lesson from everyday life. Before I was married, I was free to live an independent life. I was what is called single. Once I stood before God with my bride and said âI do,â I gave up my independent single life. I became one with my wife at that moment and left that altar a married man. Since that day I got married, I have had some moments of desire for that independent life. There were even some times my wife got frustrated with me for doing my own thing, being selfish. Anyway, let me ask you a question to start challenging your thinking. Would my marital status change if I acted like a single man? Was I not still married even if there were moments I may have acted contrary to that? Now that I have you thinking a little bit, consider this scripture, âNor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.â (1Co 6:10-11) There was a time I was a single man, and such were some of you brothers reading this article, but today you are married. You are not called a single man, but a married man. There was a time in my life, and in yours, if you are born again, when we were called sinners. I was a sinner, and I knew I was a sinner. Some of my sins I liked, some I was ashamed of. One thing for certain, I was in bondage to sin. However, when I got saved, I didnât just get my sins forgiven and promised heaven, but I was also given power over sin and freed from the bondage of sin in my life. So with that said, I stand confidently before the Lord today and tell you I am no longer a sinner. I am washed, I am sanctified, and I am justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. I belong to Him now, and I identify with His life now. I must add that I do sin sometimes, but thank God sin is not my common practice. Righteousness, holiness and obedience to the will of God is the life I identify with.
Letâs go back to the example of marriage. You who are married, would you ever even think to deny you are married just because you failed your spouse sometimes? If I heard a married man say, âI am just a single man that is married to a woman,â I would consider him a selfish man that probably doesn’t want to be married. So I ask, why are some Christians so willing to identify with that old life they once lived, and consider themselves that same old sinner? There can only be a few reasons they would say such a thing. One reason is they may have never really been born again and made a brand new creature, but have somehow been convinced they are saved. Another reason is that, some just repeat what others may teach. A new believer tends to accept what older Christians say as a true Christian doctrine. A final reason is that some Christians may really be unwilling to fully yield to Christ. Therefore, they find some comfort in the idea that they are still just sinners, and shouldn’t be expected to live truly righteous lives.
So I think by now you can see that I do not agree with the statement that we are just sinners saved by grace. Instead, I say, âI was a sinner that got saved by grace.â Here is what the bible calls us that are born again: saints (sacred, blameless), believers, disciples, Christians (first called that in Antioch), brethren, children of God, servants, righteous and a few other titles. In all my reading I have yet to come across a born again believer labeled as a sinner.
Why do I even bring this issue up? Is it really that big of a deal? I think so, and following is one example why I feel that way. I have ministered to prisoners with other fellow servants of God. You may be surprised that many of the inmates that attend our meetings profess they are believers or claim that they once served the Lord. How is it, that men claiming to be Christians, find themselves law breakers to such a point that they have to be locked up in prison? Now if they were in prison because of the testimony of Christ, that would be completely different, but that is not the case. Now some of these men are desperate for an answer, because they donât want to be jail birds for the rest of their lives. They want and need a minister of God to come in and tell them of the delivering power of God. No matter how good our intentions might be, we must not go in and say to them, âyou know what guys, I am no different than you. I too am a sinner, I am just saved by grace.â These men donât need to hear that hopeless talk. They need to hear that there is more than just forgiveness for sin. They need to hear that there is life changing power given from God to deliver them from the sin that put them in jail to the righteous life that will keep them out. If sinners want to be delivered from the bondage of sin, but you go and tell them that you too are nothing more than a sinner, thinking that will help console them, you are terribly mistaken. I ask, are we delivered from a sinful life or not?
One of my favorite scriptures I use when preaching to the lost is âBut as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:â (Jn. 1:12). Yes, we are given power to be children of God. We do not remain a people that are overcome with sin. âTherefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.â (2Co 5:17). Therefore, I am no longer a sinner, I got converted to a saint. Hallelujah!
I know someone may ask, what about Paul claiming to be chief of sinners? I will deal with that question in next monthâs article as I continue on this topic.