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Monday, November 7, 2011

Saint? Sinner? Both?


I’ve been having an ongoing argument  discussion with a friend and brother in Christ.

It is about being “sanctified.”

The gist of the argument  discussion is:

Him: We are sanctified. We’re perfect right now! God forgave our sins!

His key Bible verse is “And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:10 ESV).

Me: We’re in process of being made perfect. A process that was started in our Baptism and will be complete when we go to heaven.

I have two key Bible verses (not that having twice as many as his is better – that’s not my point):

“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but  press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own” (Philippians 3:12 ESV).

“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.  For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin” (Romans 7:15-25 ESV).

There is a Latin phrase – simul justus et peccator - which loosely translated means “At the same time saint and sinner.”

Even though Christ died and rose again to forgive my sins and give me eternal life, I still have flesh and blood. I am forgiven but I am not perfect. I still sin yet am going to heaven because of my faith in Christ.

It is hard to wrap my head around that, as it is for my friend that I am having this discussion with. I’m saved. I sin. I’m forgiven.

I don’t want to sin anymore, but I’m right there with St. Paul.

I know that I shouldn’t sin. I even know how I can not sin – do what God wants me to do.

But I’m kind of like a major league baseball player. He knows how to hit a ball but does it less than 40% of the time he tries. I suspect my not-sinning average is below that, but hopefully you get my drift.

So I keep on trying. I live, breath, pray, repent, and keep at this thing called my Christian life.

Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

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