Sinner or Saint? by Tim Johnson

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For the Good News to truly be “good news,” we must be able to lose our sin nature and exchange it for something radically different.

Can you imagine if the song went like this?

“Oh, when the sinners go marchin’ in,

Oh, when the sinners go marchin’ in,

Lord, I want to be in that number

When the sinners go marchin’ in.”

Can you imagine if Jesus’ famous statement to Nicodemus in John 3 went something like this?

Jesus:  “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again and stays a sinner, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.”

Can you imagine the impact of Jesus’ words to the woman caught in adultery in John 8 if it went something like this?

Straightening up, Jesus told her, “Woman, where are they?  Did no one condemn you?”

She said, “No one, Lord.”

And Jesus said, “And neither do I condemn you. Now, go. And keep sinning if you must.

As an evangelist at heart, I have long celebrated and shared the beautiful benefits of salvation: peace with God, being filled with the Spirit of God, the love of God shed abroad in our hearts, the hope of the resurrection in Christ Jesus.

But one glaring benefit I think we miss in our evangelistic efforts is the awe-inspiring truth that we literally go from sinner to saint upon conversion.

Our sin nature, inherited from the first Adam, is now dead and gone, according to Romans.  And now we have received the nature of our second Adam, Jesus Christ.  And His nature is certainly not of sin, but one of righteousness.

So how can we still consider ourselves “only sinners saved by grace” even after our sin nature has been canceled, removed, and washed away by the royal blood of Jesus?

Too often, we live below the bar that Jesus has set for us by claiming we are still sinners.

But the repeated truth of Scripture is that as Christians, we are so united in Christ that it transforms our very nature.  Christians are called by lots of names in Scripture after conversion: beloved, faithful, holy, children, and yes, saints.  But never are we referred to as sinners after we are born again.

It would certainly not be good news to be born again…still a sinner.

It’s been said, “There are no sinners in heaven, and there are no saints in hell.”

Can saints still sin? Unfortunately, of course. But that does not mean we still possess our sin nature. We must stop dumbing down the full work accomplished at the cross and share this miraculous news as part of our evangelism.

No doubt, there is an identity crisis in the world today. But there shouldn’t be one in the Body of Christ. The DNA of sinner has been changed to the DNA of a saint once we have embraced the Person and the Power of Jesus Christ.

When it comes to our relationship with Jesus, we are either a sinner or a saint; we can’t be both.

And that is Good News for us!

So, when those saints do go marching in, I really do want to be in that number!

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