Saints, Not Sinners

6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.  (Romans 5:6-11)
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to God’s holy people in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus: 2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.  (Ephesians 1:1-4)
Many of us have been taught that we are sinners, whose sinfulness has been covered up by Jesus. Some of us have even heard the prophecy about Joshua in Zechariah 3, which we read together last week, used to teach people that they are fundamentally sinful but that’s OK because, when God looks at them, all he sees is Jesus.

Praise God, the Apostle Paul tells us that this simply isn’t true. In Romans 5:8 he talks about a time “while we were still sinners”. Notice what that past tense means. Paul is teaching us that we are not sinners anymore! He follows this up at the start of his letter to the Ephesians, by teaching them that they have become “God’s holy people in Ephesus”. The Greek word that he uses in that verse is hagios, from which we get the English word hagiography. It means literally a “saint”, which is amazing. When we talk about Saint Paul or Saint Peter, we are missing the point of the Gospel. If you are a Christian, then you are a saint too! You are a holy one – not because of what you have done – but because of what Jesus did. And nothing you have done or can ever do will change that fact.

This truth is absolutely life-changing. It will transform your whole existence if you accept that God says it about you. You are not a dirty, rotten sinner hiding underneath clean clothes or hiding behind Jesus. What Jesus did for you when he lived, died and rose again did not put a sticking plaster on the problem of your sin. It has fundamentally transformed you. It has made you holy, clean and righteous from the inside out. Yes, you still sometimes sin, but that is no longer who you are. You are a holy one, however unlikely or unbelievable that may seem to you. Make a decision today to choose to believe what God says about you despite what you may feel.
1)   Do you believe God when he uses a past tense in Romans 5:8 to say that ‘sinner’ is something that you were?

2)   Do you believe him when he says to you in Ephesians 1:1 that you are “holy”, and in Ephesians 1:4 that you are “holy and blameless in his sight”?

3)   If you do, then how does that transform the way you walk with God each day? How does it transform the way you act towards the world, the devil and your own flesh that wars against you? Tell God exactly how you feel.
Father God, I feel so excited that you regard me as a saint, a holy one. I feel so overwhelmed by the thought that you don’t just look at me and see Jesus. Because of who I am in Jesus, you look at me and see a very different me to who I used to be. Help me not to regard myself as the sinner I used to be. Help me to see myself as you see me – as a new creation, as a saint, and as your holy one. Amen.
If you have time, consider carrying on your conversation with God using one of our helpful Prayer Pathways.
Today’s Everyday Devotions have also inspired a devotional video that you can watch on our YouTube channel.
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