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Overcoming Addictions 03/21/14

Accepting Your Sainthood

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Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.  And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. 1 John 3:4–5

Sometimes I wonder if it is a part of our fallen humanity to desire guilt, shame and punishment. In a healthy sense, guilt and shame tell us when we have done something wrong; emotional nerves that tell us we have hurt ourselves and perhaps another in the process. However, when it comes to sin, scripture gives us a different perspective.

One thing the apostle John makes clear is that sin is an indentifying trait of the unsaved. Not that the saved don’t sin. It is a matter of identity between the Christian and God and the Christian and his or her self.

Nowhere in the scriptures is a Christian referred to as a sinner, but rather, as a saint, no less than 61 times!

As I said, this does not mean that we do not see sin produced in our lives. We miss the mark of the righteousness of the life of Christ in many ways and many times each day.  Yet John insists that we do not sin. How can this be possible? It is because he looks at the church through the eyes of God—and we ought to as well. “Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God” (1 John 3:9).

This is why his righteousness has been imputed within us. And our sins were (past, present and future) imputed to him on the cross. When God looks upon us, He sees us, and the Christ within. It is those who are without Christ who are seen without the blood of Christ. Jesus and his righteousness are absent.

The word “impute” is a business term put into a scriptural context. It means to charge to one’s account. Jesus exchanges receipts with us. He took our sin and its accompanying debt. And what he gave to us is the riches of his sinless, righteous identity. Our sins were imputed to him, and his righteousness was imputed to us.

Paul explains this dynamic a little further. ”But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me” (Romans 7:17–20). Remember, this is Paul speaking about himself. A free man. Not free to sin, but free from the identity and condemnation of sin (Romans 8:1).

For some overcomers guilt and shame is a comfortable (and lethal) emotional combination because they are a familiar part of our identity due to our destructive behaviors and/or sins perpetrated against us. We must remember that Paul instructs in Romans 12:2-- And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. The more deeply we learn to look at ourselves as God does the more comfortable and joyful we will be in our lives.

Your sins have been forgiven you for this time and eternity. If the righteousness of Christ has been imputed to you and your sins imputed to him then it follows that we have a new identity. Accept what has been given to you in the sacrifice and graciousness of Christ. This is the Amazing Grace that John Newton wrote about.

Copyright 2014 David Gibson, used by permission.

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