From the time we are children and first learn to speak we verbalize our identity. When asked “Who are you?” as a 3 year old we say our name and with pride tell how old we are; accompanied by 3 little fingers sticking up. As adults when asked, “Who are you?”, generally we reply with our name, job title, and family status. Sometimes we alter our identifying titles depending on the audience and environment we find ourselves.
But what is our true identity; especially with the label of a following believer of Jesus Christ?
For most of my childhood and young adulthood I believed myself to be a churched sinner who sinned and there wasn’t much I could do about it. After I became an invested believer I struggled with the idea that Jesus’ death and resurrection paid ALL my sin. As I overcame my disbelief I slowly put on the identity of a “sinner saved by grace.” I stayed in that place for a long time, constantly struggling with my sin, belabored by the responsibility of what I believed being a Christian meant. I still saw myself as a sinner. The only thing that had changed was I knew I was going to heaven despite my sin.
I definitely had an identity crisis, like most of the Church, I didn’t understand my new nature in Christ.
Who you say you are is who you’ll be. If you say you are a sinner you will see yourself and act as a sinner. If you say you are a saint you will believe and act as a saint.
Jesus said to the Adultress in John 8:11, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”
Wait…SIN NO MORE? Well then that must mean we ARE capable of NOT sinning? *scratches head*
Jesus goes on in line 12 with, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
So, no darkness where there is light. This analogy is referenced again and again from the beginning where God separates dark and light during creation in Genesis.
We can not be both light and darkness. We are either God’s light or sin’s darkness. We are either righteous or unrighteous. We either have the Holy Spirit in us or we don’t. We are either Saints or Sinners.
One morning a few years ago I was brushing my hair, looking in the mirror and made a double take. I had GRAY hair! I looked closely and yup there they were, a small group of about 7 hairs in one spot. ACK! My husband walked by and watched me inspect my head for more offenders. He asked what I was doing and I showed him the offending hairs, emotionally stating how old I was becoming. He smiled and like any wonderful (well trained) husband said, “I don’t see any gray hair. I see highlights. They’re beautiful, just like you.” I of course laughed at his malarkey and continued to inspect my head wondering how long it would be before I had to start using wrinkle cream and a cane. Later as I was thinking about the exchange and the reaction Jason had to my newest imperfection I realized he didn’t see gray hair on an aging wife. He saw beauty and wisdom on his bride. His love for me is a filter seeing only beauty and grace.
God too has a filter. The filter is love as well. It’s a Jesus Filter. When we became restored to God through the Gospel (Jesus, son of God, came to earth, lived a sinless life, was crucified on a cross, died and then rose again in 3 days from the dead and ascended into heaven) God finds us blameless, pure, and holy and not our sin. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit that lives in us reflects Jesus and God only acknowledges our new Jesus nature.
Saint or “Sinner Saved by Grace”
Throughout the New Testament believers are ALWAYS addressed and referred to as Saints. Paul addresses the Corinthian Church as Saints despite their agrievious sin toward one another. No where in the Bible are believers referred to as “Sinners saved by grace.” Were we sinners? Were we saved by grace? Yes! BUT, NOW we are Saints, living out grace. Learning grace. Extending grace. Teaching grace.
We are a new being. We are called to “take off” all that is evil and not of Christ and “put on” grace, humility, kindness and love (Col3:10-12) of which are part of our Sainthood. We are to live out our identity in Jesus and not the identity the world says we are. We are Saints. We are God’s chosen. We are Jesus’ hands and feet. We are HIS! It’s time for the Church to live from our new nature. Our new identity.