Are We Sinners or Saints?
How do we answer people who say to us, that you may be saved as a believer in Christ but you must remember you ARE still a sinner?
Where I seem to feel confused and ineffective (not knowing how to respond) is when people will readily quote from 1 John -- if we say we have no sin then the truth is not in us -- and then from there they will believe that our normal life in Christ is in a continuance in sin. Please know, I am not denying that I have sinned, (instead of conveniently saying, "I have made a mistake"), but when the Holy Spirit convicts me of sin, (a behavior or action), I agree with the Lord and repent. And then I go on rejoicing in the holy blood of the Lord Jesus which cleanses us from all unrighteousness.
It seems to me, however, most Christians spend more time talking and preaching to other people about how sinful they are, but I believe they would do better to proclaim that Christ has truly delivered them from the slavery of sin and death and that they are made alive in Christ through the Father.
How do you deal with this issue?
Thank you for asking that question. Since I have been privileged to be traveling to many different places, sharing the truth of our union with Christ, that question in various forms pops us almost everywhere I go. It is one of the most common issues among believers.
So for a moment let's review what the Spirit has revealed to us as truth, which is, of course, what you have stated so well in your last paragraph above.
As Paul said in Ephesians 2:1-3 --
And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins:
Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:
Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
Simply put, there are none of us who at one time were not "dead" (to God), and were by NATURE children of wrath, since we were held in bondage by the one who captured our first parents in the Garden, thus making the whole human race from then on his prisoner from birth. That "one" is the great serpent, the dragon of Revelation, the tempter, accuser, and liar from the beginning, known as Satan, Lucifer, Beelzebub, and by many other names. He blinds the minds of those who believe not (2 Cor 3:4), causes us to oppose our own selves (2 Tim 2:25), and it is his very lusts that Jesus Himself said that we do when we are his children (John 8:44).
Now of course we also have to know, that this captivity to the god of this world, in which we are held by deception, and from which we cannot by our own efforts escape, manifests itself in evil AND good, because that is the tree from which Adam and Eve ate. This is an important point, because we are so used to thinking of sin simply as bad or evil deeds we do or attitudes that we have. But those deeds and attitudes (sins) are the manifestations of Sin, which is the indwelling spirit of error who IS sin. And those deeds and attitudes can be outwardly "good" or "evil." The importance of seeing this is that we can begin to take our eyes away from only good or evil deeds and attitudes, and focus on the spirit from which they originate. And this is the beginning of "judging righteous judgment," rather than by the appearance of a thing. In other words, we begin seeing things from the inside out, rather than from outside in (John 7:24). (And this is one of the key issues regarding our sin question, as we shall see later.)
Sin originates from and is the characteristic of Lucifer/Satan, who, as a created angelic being, found himself enamored with himself, and in his self-enamorment, thought himself capable of ascending above his Creator and being "like" God in power and might (Is 14:12; Ez 28:13-18). The very name, Lucifer, means "light bearer," and in his proper office he would have been the bearer of the light of God, and the manifestor of blessing and delightful creation in the angelic realm in which and for which he was created. But in his self-deception, asserting that the light of God in him was his own self-light (as if the moon could assert that its light was its own, instead of the sun's), and that the power and beauty in which he lived was his own, separate from the Creator Who Himself IS those very realities, therefore his light became darkness and the self-giving love of God in which he was created, turned in on itself into self-serving love, which produces pride and eventually wrath (rage). And the reason it is pride and wrath is because in his pride of self, self-enamorment, he broke himself off from the True Eternal Source of all peace, joy, true goodness, and self-giving Love and Life, in which is all fulfillment and contentment, and forever turned in on himself in eternal unfulfilled desire and need, becoming a raging inferno of eternal hunger and consuming self-desire, a fire that can never be quenched, that seeks only to devour (suck into itself) and to destroy everything in its rage and eternal pain.
We cannot say too much about this because God hasn't revealed to us much more than this. We cannot say too much about how or why this could be, that is, how or why God, Who works all things after the counsel of His own will (Eph 1:11), Who cannot lie (Heb 6:18), Who cannot tempt (James 1:13), and who is forever fixedly self-giving love, could suffer a created angel, with no power or life of his own outside the Life of God, to "rebel" against his own Creator, and seemingly introduce into creation something which God Himself is not. There is no answer to this that can ever satisfy the reason of man, though we may see it by the Spirit and accept it in faith.
What we are told by Paul is that the Father subjected the creation to vanity for His own purposes, and that through this subjection to vanity -- wrongful self-focus, false independent self-relying self -- we might come to hope, i.e., that through the negative of being caught inescapably in vanity, we might come to see, desire and eventually to know the Positive (God Himself), through which only we find our release and ultimate liberation. And then through that, the creation is finally delivered (from Above) from corruption by means of the final manifestation of the sons of God, whose ultimate revealing is the restoration of all things (Rom 8:19-22). And even now we can see that completion in the kingdom of God within us, and we can see it afar off amidst the turmoil and strife of our current world, since John tells us that we are NOW sons of God, though everything concerning our sonship is not yet seen (1 John 3:1-3; Ps 8:4-6).
Also, we cannot see this after the flesh, i.e., according to natural reason. The scriptures are plain (at least to me) that our state when we are blinded to the Light of God is one of subjection to and of being under the domination of the "god of this world," Satan, whose self-serving falsely independent life we all lived in and expressed (Acts 26:18; 2 Cor 6:14,15; 1 John 3:8,10; 5:19). This comes out of a union between ourselves and the sin spirit, but it is a union that is not of the same quality nor quantity as our union with Christ when by God's revealing we discover the mystery. Because even Satan is IN God, and even in his own rebellious purposes God uses him to accomplish all His will, even as He used Pharaoh to manifest his glory through the plagues in Exodus. Even in our bondage to and captivity by him, he is only in us as a usurper, like a virus, with no true right to us, since in the foundation of our being we were created in the image of God (in whom we ALL live and move and have our being -- Acts 17:28), and even while held in darkness in our inner selves we are all at our depths truly the children of God in whom the Light of Christ lights us all (John 1:9), drawing us all to Himself (John 12:39), through which by grace we may respond and come out of darkness into His marvelous light (Col 1:13). And this is a false union, one that really doesn't fit us, because all of us in our hearts know there is something not right about us, because even though Satan has captured us temporarily, that Light that lights every man that comes into the world continues to make us uncomfortable (as our conscience) in our darknened condition, and we all feel it.
And now here we are getting to the key point of our discussion. We have stated above the condition of all mankind, which is the condition of us all until we individually experience the new birth, without which no one can see the kingdom of God (John 3:3). Now let us briefly look at the Cross, the means of the new birth, so that we may find our solid foundation by which we come to understand how it is we are no longer sinners who must inexorably obey sin, but are now saints, who by grace are now obedient to and expressors of righteousness. (And by "Cross" I don't mean the actual wooden cross, but the work which Jesus accomplished through his death on the Cross and subsequent Resurrection the third day.)
The Cross is prefigured in numerous places in the Old Testament: in Abel's sacrifice, in the flood of Noah, in the sacrifice of Isaac, in the blessing of Esau and Jacob, in the Passover, in the Red Sea, and in many many more. One of the most vivid prefigures of the Cross is the story of the serpent in the wilderness, which is mentioned by Jesus in John 3:14.
And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.
Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD, and against thee; pray unto the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people.
And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.
And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived. (Num 21:6-9)
Just as it was the serpent who deceived Adam and Eve in Eden, gaining access to them through the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, by which he became their hidden harsh taskmaster in their inner selves, which immediately produced in them self-focus, fear, and guardedness, i.e., spiritual death, this story of the Israelites in the wilderness is a parable of the same reality. All of mankind has been "bitten" by this serpent, and all became "sick" because of his bite. And the fact that all of mankind has been or is still "sick" from this serpent's bite needs no proof. We only need watch the evening news -- or perhaps look even a little closer to home.
But there IS a cure, and the cure is, to the natural mind of man, just as absurd in our day of technology, science and innumerable self-focused, self-relying and self-idolizing philosophies and religions, as it must have been to the children of Israel, when told all they had to do to be cured of the serpent's bite was to behold the brass serpent raised up on a pole in the wilderness. What the children of Israel were shown and given in a figure or type, we have been shown in its fulness and totality in our time in the Cross of Jesus Christ. Our total cure, our total deliverance from all the works of the devil, from start to finish, was forever accomplished in the Cross of Jesus, and we only need to receive it by grace through faith as a gift from the Lord.
Now, before we move into an explanation of what this "cure" is in its totality, let me one more time unequivocally state what the source of this sickness is, and what is the chief symptom of this sickness.
What is often referred to as "sin nature," or sometimes even "human nature" when that term is used to denote our so-called "flawed" condition, originates in the person of sin, Satan. What the parable of the fiery serpent in the wilderness states hiddenly, the New Testament declares in plain words, referred to in the many scriptures above, but which many fail or refuse to see. We WERE his, and did his works! (Even our so-called "good works," when we are operating outside the life of God as the slave of sin, are only for ourselves, simply because we cannot be any other way but for ourselves at our core.) There has been a hidden virus in everyone of us from birth, which infects us all from our inner core, so that we not only commit sins (good or evil deeds or attitudes), we ARE sin! It doesn't matter if we are the most moral of men, or the most base and crude, because when we are living our lives from the hidden inner basis of darkness -- self-for-self -- it is out of a condition of sin coming from the "god" of sin. That condition runs the gamut, from the most altruistic philanthropists and good-deed-doers who gather themselves together at great banquets and give each other humanitarian awards and congratulate themselves and each other on what great human beings they are, to the most despicable tyrants who ever lived, to prostitutes, criminals and drugs addicts on the streets. In this state we are all the same in the eyes of God, when pride of self is at the inner core. None of that, the good or the evil, is of any merit or demerit toward holiness or wickedness, since all of the "good" or "evil" that comes out of that false tree from which we have all eaten, has the same inner source, the liar from the beginning, the serpent.
The chief symptom of this condition of sin, which we have all likewise inherited from our first parents and which has through the succeeding millenia reached a great level of sophistication and has built a mighty building throughout the whole world to which all the world gives homage (until by grace we are delivered), is false, independent, self-relying, self-acting, self-loving self -- a false self that, like its father Lucifer in Isaiah 14, would, in its supposed independence, be "like the Most High," would ascend above God Himself, and would BE God! That seed sown in Adam and Eve by the serpent has grown into a great tree that permeates all our world, the seed of "I, Me, Mine," a false building of self that thinks (wrongly) that it runs its own life, determines its own destiny, and is or can be in itself, God. Humanity did not originate this lie. It is the same self-deception by which Lucifer deceived himself, to act as if the fire of self in him was his own, that he was his own light, his own wisdom, his own power, his own goodness, and he need "serve" no other God beyond himself, since he deceived himself into his own self-sufficiency, his own self-deification, and in his rebellion cast off the only Source of Life there is, and in effect became the opposite of God, Who in Himself is only forever Self-giving Love. Lucifer, however, became forever self-serving self-loving love, love turned inward instead of outward, which is hell. And it is Satan's hell-life that we manifest and participate in, which produces the hell in the world, all of which comes from the pride of false independent self which has overtaken all.
And now we are ready to understand what the new birth is.
When we receive Christ, our first understanding is His forgiveness of our sins, our outer deeds, by the effects and working of His blood. This is a great mystery, because we cannot possibly understand how blood, even the blood of Christ, can accomplish this great thing. In our beginning consciousness in Christ, God gets our attention by means of our selfish acts and thoughts, and in some way brings us to a desire for repentance. In that "repentance," which means a "turning away," or a "change of mind," the Spirit of God meets us with great grace, and somehow we know that something mightily different has happened to us, something we could not possibly have anticipated. Even though we are not yet aware of what has happened to us, for the first time we begin to feel a true inner peace as a completely new affection takes hold of us, and a love not our own (but we don't know yet that it isn't our own) begins to flow out of us, first toward God and then toward others. Scales drop from our eyes, and for the first time we begin to see the kingdom of God. And inwardly, in our minds and hearts, we begin to experience what really is a miracle -- the forgiveness of sins.
Now let's understand what this forgiveness of sins is, because it is not something to be lightly passed over. We have been taught that God was angry with us, that He is bent on punishing us, and that because of our breaking of God's laws, for which death (separation from God) is the punishment, we are held in God's wrath and will one day, if we do not repent, experience the full measure of that wrath when the life in this body is over. Now almost all of us perceive that in a very outer way, with God being as if He is some Great Person apart from us, sitting on a Great Throne in some far-off heaven, and it seems as if what has caused the separation between us is the breaking of some legal requirements, and salvation appears to us almost like an earthly legal contract, in which God makes note of the fact that we have believed in His Son Jesus, and by that takes our name from one column -- the wrath column -- and moves us over in His book to the saved column. And that's that.
But first of all, it isn't God who changed or went anywhere, but because of our inherited life from Adam, it is man that went away. God is like the father of the Prodigal Son, who never changes, whose heart toward his son never loses its love, and who longs after his son the whole time of his wandering away. It is the son who has left to spend his inheritance in riotous living, while the father, whose heart is always with his son in concern and hope, awaits at home til his son, while feeding on the husks even the pigs wouldn't eat, comes to his senses in the middle of a pen full of pig dung.
Remembering our first parents in the Garden, it was Adam and Eve who suddenly felt fear and shame, and not God. The wrath came alive in them! God Himself is only Love, Whose arm is ever outstretched toward us all, Who would have none of us perish, Who sent His son to seek and gather all who are lost into Himself, if they will. When Adam and Eve sinned and as a result hid among the trees in the Garden, God expressed no anger toward them. Instead He seeks them: "Adam, where are you?" Of course God knew where they were, and what they had done, and even when they come forward and confess to Him what they had done, still He expresses no anger nor wrath toward them, but only compassion and provision as He tells them what are the consequences of what they have done. He even clothes them before He sends them out of the Garden on their (our) long road back to Him.
And it was not because of disobedience to an arbitrary commandment, as if God just picked something they could not do, and because they didn't do what He said, the punishment was death. Obedience is the point, but not because obedience is the point, but because obedience points to Life, and disobedience didn't lead to death just because it was disobedience, but because the thing they chose to do was Death itself. In the Tree was the wrath, and eating it awakened the wrath, because the Tree hiddenly contained the god of wrath, who they received within themselves when they partook of the fruit. Even in pronouncing His curses, which really weren't curses but the just consequences of eating the fruit, the Lord God spoke the first Promise of the Redeemer. "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." (Gen 3:15) In that promise is the first foreshadowing of the Redeemer to come, the Bruiser of the Serpent, who truly was a Lamb slain before there was ever a sinner to redeem, and He has ever been that from the foundation of the world (Rev 13:8).
Now the point I am making here is that something occurred inside Adam and Eve, and thus inside all of us, that causes us to participate and live in the wrath of God, to experience it in our selves as if it is our own, since, as the scripture from Ephesians first quoted above states, we became "by nature children of wrath," because we took the wrath into us when we ate of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. God doesn't change; He is only Love eternal. However, we changed, and wrath became our lot.
And this has effects. Because under the domination of this god of wrath we find ourselves opposing ourselves. We are ashamed of ourselves. We are guilty and we know it even if we won't accept it. And the more we lie, cheat and steal, the more we are guilty and out of sorts, though we try to cover it up with all sorts of methods -- alcohol, drugs, education, houses, religion, philosophy, hobbies, sex -- anything we can do to take our minds off our inner misery of heart and mind. And throughout life it accumulates and accumulates, building a great structure in us that we either try to keep hidden from everybody else by pretending we are moral, loving people, (because we all know that is what we SHOULD be), or else we cast off all pretense and live evil to the uttermost. And all this produces in us fear, torment, and wrath, just as it was awakened in Adam and Eve the moment they swallowed the fruit.
But then in the fulness of time, the Bruiser of the Serpent appeared in the flesh, as "Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the good news." (Mark 1:14,15)
The chief characteristic of Jesus' ministry among the masses and to individuals who were glad to see him coming, was a personal and individual declaration of the forgiveness of sins to those who were hurting and almost crushed to powder under the great weight of the accumulation of sins and guilt in their lives. To the man sick of the palsy he said, "Son, be of good cheer, thy sins are forgiven thee" (Mat 9:2). To a prostitute who washed his feet with her hair and tears, he said again, "Thy sins are forgiven" (Luke 7:48). The Pharisees, who thought they were the most obedient to God and moral of men as meticulous keepers of the Law, reasoning among themselves and offended that Jesus would associate with such a sinner (not realizing the sin within themselves), thought, "Who is this that forgiveth sins?" And in another place they said, "Who is this which speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?" (Luke 5:21)
And in Jesus' possibly greatest offensive act to the Pharisees, to the woman taken in the act, the very act, of adultery, and deserving of death by stoning under the law of Moses, He told her, "Neither do I condemn thee, go thy way, and sin no more." (John 8:11) Now by these declarations Jesus was demonstrating the true heart of God, instead of the wrath and anger the people perceived God to be. For this is the true heart of God toward all His lost sheep, Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool (Isa 1:18).
And the very commission Jesus stated He fulfilled in the synagogue in Nazareth, brought out this very heart and purpose of God, which was not retribution and punishment, but forgiveness and deliverance: "The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD ..." (Isa 61:1,2)
What is interesting to note in Jesus quoting that prophecy by which He announced His commission and the fact that He was, indeed, the Messiah, is that He did not quote the full verse, but stopped before reading the last part, which was, "and the day of vengeance of our God." There is a ministry from the Lord that is given for that, but it was not incumbent upon the Son of Man to declare that within His purpose, but only deliverance and healing, uplifting and forgiveness.
And this is the true attitude of God toward us, in that, while we were dead in trespasses and sins, while we were enemies in our hearts and living in pride and wrath, while we were the ungodly and did all we could to rebel and wreak havoc in our lives and the lives of those around us, He nevertheless reached out to us to "first love us," to "choose us" before we chose Him. This is the true heart of God toward us.
I've taken a long time to make this point because so many of us can't shake the idea that God is displeased with and angry with us. Jesus' life portrayed in the gospels dispels that notion, but the reason we have such difficulty believing it and apprehending it so that it is our own, is because of this lifelong accumulation of guilt and self-loathing (even if covered up by self-pride), and we can only see God through this veil of guilt and shame, and that's where the blood of forgiveness comes in. His blood is the total cleansing of our CONSCIENCES before God, by which we experience peace, not just from God whose heart toward us has always been peace, but peace within ourselves through this wiping away of the residual effects of every act of lust, cruelty, inhumanity, hatred, or prideful lifting up of ourselves we've ever done or considered, and God forever remembers them no more. In the blood of the Eternal Lamb Who is without spot of blemish, our consciences and consciousness are forever wiped clean and made completely new. Not only do we know God's forgiveness in the blood of Jesus, but because the blood is a purging of our consciences, a doing away forever of a consciousness of and toward sin, we now forgive ourselves! This is something which the tabernacle sacrifices could not accomplish, but still pointed to the blood of Jesus, whose once for all sacrifice, eternal in the heavens, purges our consciences from the effects of sin, and by it gives us a holy boldness to come before the throne of grace, which we could not do while our consciousness of our sins and iniquities kept us as the children of Israel who could not touch the mountain, lest they die. No one can come into His true presence in a consciousness of sin. But because of the blood of Christ, in which all our sins are eternally forgiven, we may be BOLD with God, since there is now no partition between us, but we are now through Jesus as sons with a Father, with all the rights and privileges of sonship.
And now we come finally to the the Body of Jesus Christ, the Bread of Heaven, through which the totality of our salvation is fully secured. As I stated above, we have been invaded in our inner center by the spirit of unrighteousness, who has been our hidden motivator in all that we do. (Even then we are not outside the plan of the Father so that even while under the captivity of Satan, God has known us from before the foundation of the earth, and has "separated us from our mother's womb" with the intent, as with Paul, to one day "reveal His Son" in us! [Gal 1:15,16])
Here is where we see how appropriate the story of the brazen serpent is, as what is hinted at in types and shadows through Moses, is accomplished in totality and plain sight through the body death of Jesus. As I have been saying, sins, or outer deeds, thoughts and attitudes, are not our first problem. The blood comes and deals with the results of those, and since that is the first thing most of us see, we think that those things are God's main issue with us. He wants us, we think, to act good, and we act evil and that's the sum total of our problem. If we can now do good things, good works, we think, God will now be pleased with us. Now of course God does seek in us the fruit of righteousness, but it's origin isn't found in our deeds and thoughts. It is found in our spirit center. So in order for the sin question to be finally and fully dealt with, the true reason for why sins occur must be uncovered and dealt with. That is what is accomplished in the body death of Jesus, and where we begin to see how COMPLETE and TOTAL our salvation is, and why we can legitimately believe and know we are no more "sinners," but saints. And this is absolutely vital if we are to come to maturity in the Lord, to be able to walk in freedom and love, with rivers of Living Water flowing out of our lives for the blessing of the world God calls us to.
Now we all know that when a person dies, his spirit leaves that body and the body is left as no more than a decaying shell. I remember one of the first times I went to a funeral after I knew the Lord, how it became so visibly obvious to me that the life had left the body, and I could vividly see with my eyes how the body of my brother lying there in the casket, was nothing more than a shell. I knew my brother was no longer there, that the body I once knew as him had been merely a container of the true man I knew, and now that true man, the spirit, had gone on to be with the Lord. It hit me like a dump truck load with one glance at his body.
When Jesus was on the Cross, according to the Father's plan and with Jesus' foreknowledge, (which is why the struggle in Gethsemane was so difficult), it was more than just a representative sacrifice, as the animal temple sacrifices had been through the Law of Moses. The blood of bulls and goats merely pointed at what was to come, but in themselves could accomplish nothing. During those times God certainly honored those who participated in those sacrifices with faith toward God, but in Jesus the veil of the temple is rent in twain and we are able to see no longer through the veil, but plainly and clearly what God has done. The problem with us was that we had been invaded and captured, so that one who essentially had no right to us, had stolen us and made us his unwitting (for the most part) slaves, and it was not in our power in any sense to escape his captivity, even if we knew about it. Someone stronger than he and we had to come to effect this deliverance, to separate us from the spirit of rebellion that blinded our minds and hearts. And because his spirit inhabited our spirits in our bodies, something which we cannot see according to the flesh but can only know by the Spirit, the only means of escape is by death, because a spirit only departs the body when the body dies. What we are describing here is the "old man," which in the Cross is taken into death, and this is how this happens.
When Jesus cried on the Cross, "My God, my God, why have thou forsaken me?" He was entering His uttermost intercession for us. As I said above, we weren't sinners simply because we did bad things, but we did bad things because we were sinners, because in our inner center, having been infected by Satan's own sin nature within us, we WERE SIN! In order for Jesus to fully effect the salvation of the Lord in us, He had to not only deal with sins and their effects, He had to deal with SIN at the root of it. And the root of it was the spirit of sin in us. So the Father put upon Jesus the Son all that we had become, and cast Him down into death into the uttermost depths as far down as sin would take us, into the depths of hell and separation. Jesus, who had known all manner of temptation as we had but without having sinned, gave up His own righteousness from God and then the Father caused Him to be all that we were! Just as it was a serpent raised on a pole in the wilderness who healed the Israelites from the bite of the serpent, even so Jesus became the serpent raised on the pole for all eternity to see. HE BECAME SIN FOR US! "For he [God the Father] hath made him [Jesus] to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." (2 Cor 5:21)
What we were, SIN, He became, that in His resurrection by the Holy Spirit, the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead, now raises us from the dead, and we become, by HIS WORK, not by anything we do, the righteousness of God. Because when Jesus' body died and His spirit left His body, even though the Father let the spirit of sin work its full work in him to the point of Sin taking him into the heart of the fires of hell, IT COULD NOT HOLD HIM. By a power not His own, since He had completely laid down His life unto death, trusting the Father would not allow Him to see corruption, He was raised forever to the right hand of God, and thus was given a name above every name, and became by that the Captain of our salvation and leads captivity captive and many many many sons unto glory. He went where we were and took us out of there and up to the Right Hand of the Father with and in Him! And that is now the life that works in us, so that we who were formerly slaves of sin, are now bondslaves of righteousness. Our members, our humanity, which was once given to unrighteousness and selfishness, now belong to Christ and are the members of Christ, and the expression of righteousness.
Therefore it is bordering on blasphemy to still call ourselves sinners, after so great a work by so great a sacrifice has been accomplished. How DARE WE call ourselves sinners, for if we are, then Christ's death is of no effect, and we waste our time in all this. The resurrection of Jesus is also OUR resurrection unto righteousness, and by His life we have been called (and when we are called by God it means we ARE) SAINTS!
This is no mere new wine in old wineskins. This is a completely new creation, not a patched up repair job, but new wine in new wineskins, in which ALL THINGS have become new, and all old things have passed away, and we come near to doing despite unto the Spirit of grace (Heb 10:29), to call what God has cleansed common (Acts 10:15).
Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (1 Cor 5:7,8)
Only saints can come boldly before the throne of grace, and because we are, we can. Let us therefore do it!
(Part two of this, in which we come to the final understanding of moving from the dilemma of Romans 7 ["the good I would I don't do, the evil I would not I do"] to the Romans 8 life in the Spirit, through the discovery of the final self-effort lie, will come next.)