In January 2019, my beloved Nana passed from this earth. I was able to fly home to Texas to be with her as she took her last breath and attend the funeral. During the funeral, many people spoke of the good things Nana did and how she blessed others. My mother’s parents attended the funeral and I offered to drive them back home, as it was about half an hour back to their house. On the way there my grandpa said, “I don’t want any accolades said at my funeral. I just want it said that I am a sinner saved by the grace of God.” I have thought of that moment many times over the last two years and it just reaffirms how wise and humble he is. It also shows how well he understands his place; it demonstrates how his heart is aligned with God’s.
“He who is without sin, cast the first stone” (John 8:7). None of us can cast a stone. We are all sinners because we all have sinned at one point or another (and again) in our lives. We can either recognize it by self-examination or we can take God’s word for it (Rom. 3:23). I have thought “if it were me in that garden of Eden, I would not have eaten that fruit!” As if I could have been any better! Eve was drawn away by her own desires and we are no better today. Have you ever tried to justify your actions and convince yourself that what you are doing is acceptable when in reality God would not approve?
Remember, there is a time for every purpose under heaven. “Share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began” (2 Tim. 1:8-9). God planned for Jesus to save us from our sins before the foundation of the world (1 Pet. 1:20, Eph. 1:4). These passages tell me that sin was going to exist on Earth no matter who started it. They also infer that there was a purpose for it. In short, suffering draws you closer to God.
It is true that I have sinned and will probably sin again and therefore that makes me a sinner. However, that is not all that I am. Just as light dispels darkness, so does truth dispel lies (John 1:4-5; 8:12). God’s Word is truth, I am sanctified by it, and it makes me free (John 17:17; 8:32). God’s truth says that I am a saint, one declared righteous by Him, who sins. “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous” (Rom. 5:19). Adam helped bring sin into the world, but Jesus’ obedience of God’s will cleanses us from it. Obedience leads to righteousness (Rom. 6:16). We can’t rely on our own obedience, as we do not obey perfectly in everything all the time. We rely on the obedience of Christ and gain righteousness from “that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith” (Phil. 3:9).
The mark of a saint is repentance (Heb. 10:26-27; 1 John 1:9-10). Just as we should not let the sun go down on our wrath, we should not let it set in our disobedience either. Deal with sin as soon as you recognize it. We put it off for many reasons but none of them should hold more weight than the eternal dwelling place of our soul. Tomorrow is never guaranteed.
The term “saint” is less of a title and more of a statement of one’s relationship with God through Jesus. The nature of our flesh wars against the Spirit that is in us. Even Paul claimed that he willed to do good but practiced that which is evil on occasion (Rom. 7:15-25) This passage reiterates that even saints sin at times. He also gave the best remedy to overcome the guilt associated with sin: forget those things that are behind and reach forward to those things which are ahead (Phil. 3:13). When we repent, God blots out our sin with the blood of Christ (Acts 3:19). We need to honor God’s perspective of us and not let the sin we have repented of define us. That is exactly what Satan tried to accomplish. He accused the brethren night and day before our God, but was cast down and overcome (Rev. 12:10-11).
We may lose some battles against sin, but we will win the war as we have victory in Jesus. There are stumbling blocks that can be like millstones around your neck. Cast it away. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13). Use God’s words to build yourself up as well as others. Rejoice in the goodness and blessings that rain upon us, even when we are not deserving of them. Jesus is our cornerstone; use Him to build your relationships, your marriage, your parenting techniques, and your understanding of what is right and good. This will help us to minimize the temptation to sin.
Remember that though we sin, we can repent and still have the right to be called saints. Let this give peace to your soul. Your body can be tired, broken, and in pain, but it can be well in your soul and that will give you a greater peace than any other earthly offering.
Samantha and her family live and worship in Florence, SC.