1st August 2020

Saints and Sinners 

“There is none righteous, no, not one.”
Romans 3:10 (NKJV)

I think it is fair to say that most people regard “saints” and “sinners” as two absolute opposites – poles apart as it were.  A person can be one or the other, or else on a sliding scale, somewhere in between perhaps.  Yet the Bible makes it clear that a person can never become a saint unless and until they accept and confess that they are sinners. So the reality is that all saints are also sinners, and understanding this is important, both for Christians and non-Christians.  For non-Christians, the danger of the polarised view is that they can judge the church and even Christianity as a whole by the flaws they perceive in individuals or groups who claim to be Christians.  For Christians, the danger is even greater, for two reasons:
Firstly our redemption from sin, and therefore our promise of salvation from death, is based upon our comprehension and repentance of our innate sinfulness, and our understanding and grateful acceptance of our need of the redemption only made possible by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.
And secondly because as Christians we are expected to be truly and continually repentant of sin throughout our lives, which should translate into meekness and humility before God and man, as prerequisites for accomplishing His work.  Without this humility, the danger is that we become self-righteous and judgmental of others—a ‘holier than thou’ attitude which non-Christians rightly resent.

As Christians we are called to extend grace—that is forgiveness, mercy, kindness, patience and love-in-action towards others.  Ministers are called to serve the spiritual food of sermons and pastoral care to their congregations, but in the humble realisation that their spiritual food is being served off ‘cracked plates’ as it were, for ministers are simply redeemed sinners too.  Right from the beginning Jesus made it clear that His work would be done through flawed human beings who were convicted of their own sins and inadequacies. Peter denied Jesus three times, yet was instructed to “feed my sheep.” ‘Doubting’ Thomas refused to believe that Christ was resurrected until he felt the wounds where nails had been driven through His tendons. Paul was directly involved in jailing, and persecuting Christians to death, and so the greatest apostle came to regard himself as the greatest sinner of all.

A deep sense of our own sinfulness, not in despair but in thankful acknowledgment of our need for Christ’s atoning sacrifice, is the essence of what it is to be a saint.  Conscious of our innate sinfulness, true Christians will constantly seek God’s merciful forgiveness and the power of the Holy Spirit to sanctify us (i.e. make us saints), to lead us away from sin, and to do His works. As it says in 1 John 1:8-9, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” So the truth is that all saints are sinners, but only redeemed sinners are saints!

Dear Heavenly Father, please help us to understand your wonderful mercy towards us and the awesome sacrifice needed to redeem us from our sins, and thereby grant us a depth of love and gratitude towards You that translates into forgiving and loving others as ourselves. In Jesus Christ’s name.

Study by Richard Whiting


About the Author:
Richard Whiting is an Elder of Grace communion International now retired and living in Dumfries in South-West Scotland

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You are welcome to attend one of our local Church congregations located throughout the UK and Ireland. For details of your nearest local congregation, check on our website, www.gracecom.church under the ‘churches’ tab, or ring  +44(0)1858 437099.

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One Response to “1st August 2020”

  1. John Armstrong on August 3rd, 2020 1:35 pm

    Hello Richard,
    Thanks for this article.
    Regarding the section where you state “Paul was directly involved in jailing, and persecuting Christians to death, and so the greatest apostle came to regard himself as the greatest sinner of all.”, is not Christ Jesus Himself the greatest apostle ?see Hebrews 3v1.
    Best wish

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