Sainthood: A Lost Victory

“Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:1-3

“I’m just a sinner saved by grace” reads the bumper sticker. But am I? Yes, I sin and yes, I’m saved by grace but is this what I am? Am I sinner growing evermore towards holiness? Or am I saint which means ‘a holy one’? The answer changes everything.

The experience of the Christian life is that while saved, we still mostly relate to Paul’s infamous words: “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”[1] The lust for food, sex, money, respect and other good gifts in wrong contexts seem to be a constant turmoil in our thoughts, our words and our actions. We can quote the Scripture that “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”[2] We can preach, teach and proclaim the truth that we have been “set free from the law of sin and death.” But at the end of the day in the privacy of our own homes in the privacy of our own minds, our thoughts find us going to places where we do not want to be. And while we know that there’s ‘Victory in Jesus’ as the song says, we feel our experience is somehow not as triumphant as it could be, as if there’s something we’re not quite getting but that maybe we’ll get someday.  So we keep trying. This is where being made a “saint” changes everything.

In Christ we are “saints.” No less than 29 times Paul refers to the Christians as “saints.” When we think of saints we tend to think of the super-righteous of history or statues found in Catholic cathedrals. It’s not often that we think of ourselves as saints, and yet that is what we are, in Christ.

The Scriptures go on to say that we are “crucified with Christ.” So what about our sinful thoughts and actions? What about our continuous struggles in trying to be righteous? We often say that it’s the “old man” rising up in us. Or that it’s our “sinful nature.” But how does this reconcile with the Scriptures that we the “old is gone” and that we’re “dead to sin?”

The answer is that these desires no longer come from within us, In Christ we are a “new creation, the old has gone the new has come.” We are fully, completely and totally “saints,” “righteous ones,” “holy ones.”   The Word says we are “crucified” and “dead” to sin.

Now if you take a stack of $100 bills that is 5 inches thick and wave it in front of a dead man, he will do nothing. If a strikingly beautiful woman smiles at a dead man, he does not respond. Bring to him a platter of his favorite food and the dead man does not drool. Why? Because he is dead. That’s how dead sin is in us.

Lust, pride, selfishness—all these things come from without. They come from demonic spirits, they come from a culture that has been deceived, and they come from old habits and old ways that are no longer a part of us. They are not us anymore. Knowing that they come from without makes the fight possible.

The difference is living in the land we own rather than trying to take it over. If I’m trying to take over a mountain that is filled with heavily-armed enemy combatants, it is an impossibility. But if I am the one on the mountain, own the mountain and have all the resources available to do battle, I stand at a different vantage point.   Any intruders will be driven out quickly and forcefully because this isn’t their territory, it isn’t their land. I’m the one with ownership. Any invaders I do let in or do nothing about are subsequently my responsibility.

The same is true in Christ. We are holy and that is our identity. In Christ we are righteous. Anytime we let any foreign invader into our lives– evil thoughts, a spirit of lust, etc… we drive it out with the weapons we’ve been given. If we don’t, then we suffer the consequences. Any sin I have in my life is because I’ve opened the door and let it come in and make itself at home. We must repent for letting it in and then go on the offensive to drive it out. But the evil is no longer from within. If for a moment I think the battle still comes from within, I have lost already. It’s why Christ had to come. Only he could make us new creatures. Only he could make us holy. Only he could make us saints.






[1] Rom 7:15

[2] Rom 8:1