The common phrase, “I’m just a sinner saved by grace”, sounds humble but it is far from the message of the gospel. I understand what people are attempting to communicate. All of us in Christ realize that before our salvation, we did not deserve our salvation. Then after our salvation, because we still sin, we do not deserve the blessings God gives to us. While this phrase may sound humble, it is not true and may actually cause us to sin more. Why?
We understand that the perception we have of ourselves will determine how we live our lives. The late Dr. Adrian Rogers said, “The me I see is the me I’ll be.” Take a moment and repeat that statement. If we are just a sinner saved by grace, why would we expect to do anything other than sin? In fact, if that is who we really are deep within our inner most being, it would be much more likely for us to sin. Right?
So who are we? The only perspective of us which really matters is God’s. Believing any opinion we or anyone else has of us which is contrary to God’s opinion causes much trouble. When we agree with God about who we are and the Holy Spirit makes this real to us, it transforms us. Our Abba says things like, “You are my son/daughter”. “You are a saint.” “You are righteous.” You are beloved (lovable and loved).” Isn’t that really fantastic news?
Unfortunately, it is tempting to do mental gymnastics to squirm around this truth by believing God just sees us that way but it won’t really be true until heaven. The good news is that who God says we are is true now, regardless of our sins, obedience, feelings, etc. 1 John 3:1 says “What marvelous love the Father has extended to us! Just look at it–we’re called children of God! That’s who we really are.” (The Message) Notice that last phrase – “That is who we really are”. God is not pretending or just seeing us as we will be in heaven one day.
I was the main speaker at a pastor and wife retreat when I met him. He was 21 and trying to decide whether to come and hear me speak or to go to the youth event. He asked me about my topic and I told him it was about who we are in Christ. He decided to stay and he heard me preach all three sessions. The last day after everyone departed, he approached me with his story.
“I am a Christian but until recently, I strayed far from my relationship with God. Because of the things I did, I did not feel worthy of God blessing me with a godly wife who loved Jesus like I now do. After hearing what God says about who I am in Christ, I realize that I can have a godly wife.” About a year later, he married one of the sweetest young ladies who loved Jesus just as much as he did. He is now a student pastor.
What if we all said, “I was a sinner saved by grace. Now I am a child of God who sometimes sins.” Our experience at Grace Life is that when people come to believe this in their hearts, they actually sin less and are much more aware of when they do sin. God cannot lie and He does not call you a sinner saved by grace but He calls us His child and much, much more. What will we call ourselves today?