I am a Sinner!
I know that phrase, according to some, is thrown around a bit too much as of late. It’s said that maybe the people who like to use it, like me, look at it almost as if it’s a rite of passage, or a badge to proudly wear. Maybe the reason people don’t like it is because they think we’re making excuses for our sinful natures, and not really letting the Gospel drive us from our sins. I think the terminology for this concern is called antinomianism. The idea that we are not regulated or governed by God’s law anymore because of grace that covers our sins. This allows us to live lawless, sin-rich lives without so much of a care. It’s all a bit too ridiculous how quickly people get labeled an antinomian. I’m not a theologian by any stretch of the word, and that makes me more surprised when I see those that are so heavily studied, quick to call another of their learned brethren a heretic. These seminary alumni would have the most richest sense of what these words mean and should be hesitant to throw any label on someone’s teachings until the most careful of studies. In a bit of irony, you might even say what they’re doing is sinful. Bare false witness lately anyone? Anyone?
Worse yet, people who call themselves sinners sometimes get accused of wallowing in that fact instead of “walking in freedom”, “obeying God’s commands”, “living your best life now” or whatever new “I have overcome” phrase Christians are using these days. People who know they are sinners can be joyful and there are many times that we are. But there are times that we are wholeheartedly faced with the reality of our condition. The very real condition of being both sinner as well as saint. We can laugh and enjoy life the same as anyone else, but we have moments of hard reflection driving us to our knees in repentance, allowing God to remind us we are washed clean by His forgiveness, and then being strengthened by His Word and Sacraments.
Its just a point of fact that Christians, whether they like to publicly admit to it or not, recognize it to be true. We ARE sinners. We WILL struggle our entire lives in either sins of thoughts, words or deeds. Inevitably, all three of those things will intersect, if not regularly, then certainly more than enough to know only how true that statement really is. I can’t look at someone and tell you how sincere they are in repenting. I can’t say that if they sin again in the same way, they probably weren’t sorry or wasn’t truly repentant the first time. But I do know, without any ability to see into a person’s thoughts or even know anything personal about them, that they sin daily, probably hourly. This is not a statement of pious judgment but one of cold hard fact. I stand convicted and condemned guilty as well. This is why the first application of any text, any scripture, once we are aware of that fact, should be God’s Grace.
When we look for application in scripture, our inclination is to find that one passage that helps our immediate life situation, goal or dream. But among that, Grace should be key. Those spiritual words we seek to apply to some pressing matter in our lives that will make it all better and give us “Fridays” everyday will eventually fall short and at some point, we will be stuck with a “Monday” kind of day. Our best “how to’s”, “I have overcome’s”, “win’s”, or “I don’t sin anymore’s” NEED be bathed in the Grace poured out daily for our benefit. The Grace that says no matter what circumstances are going on in your life, IT IS FINISHED! Christ’s work on the cross has done that for us. It’s rescued us from trying to have all our ducks in a row in both our salvation effort, and our sanctification efforts. God’s Grace has to come first! It has to. Because as we walk out the entirety of this christian life, for however long God allows us to continue, our “how to”, will eventually give way to “how come?”, our, “I have overcome”, will turn into, “I AM overcome”, and our “wins”, will become “loss”. Finally, our, “I don’t sin anymore” will sound more like, “I didn’t sin anymore UNTIL…”
That first application of Grace has to be applied before any effort so we are reminded that it’s NOT our efforts that matters most, but CHRIST’S! We have to first know and then be reminded regularly that it’s done and finished. We need to always and constantly hear that we are forgiven. We needs to be reminded of these things before we sin because we will. We need to be reminded during our sins because our guilt and shame can sometimes be so powerful that it can drive us away from God and we need to be reminded after sinning because we need to know there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God through his Son, Christ Jesus. He came for sinners and that is exactly what you and I are!
When I say, “I am a sinner”, I am saying that I am a sinner forgiven continually by my Savior. I am saying that I need God more than I ever understood in the beginning of this journey. I am saying that yes, I still sin, and sometimes in the same ways, but I don’t want to (though I suppose in some ways I do).
It’s ok to accept that you are a sinner, but you don’t have to accept that you sin. Sinners are exactly who God accepts into his kingdom.
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”
This sums up the law of God in a neat little package. It’s also clear that upon just a quick reflection of that scripture that NO ONE keeps the law. ALL means ALL. I’ve yet to meet someone that can keep it all. Oh wait, I have, Jesus the Christ, the Savior of the world, kept the law perfectly on our behalf, because we couldn’t before faith was planted in us and we still can’t after faith was planted in us.
I AM a sinner
Saved, rescued and made a saint by Jesus.
Until I die, this will be my struggle. Until I die, He will both forgive me for my failings, and strengthen me for His triumphs.
I am truly thankful (though never thankful enough)