I’m No Dead Saint – I’m a Live One!

“Whoa,” I thought to myself. “This is a game changer.”

As I processed the soul penetrating insights from my High Trust Leadership class, I confess I had never – in all of my days as a follower of Christ – considered myself this way.

My class leaders contend that as a Christ follower that I am a saint.

A saint?

Me?

According to most secular definitions, a saint is a person who has been recognized by the Christian Church as being holy in how he or she lived his or her life on earth.  The term focuses on awarding this saintly title after one has died. It is not a present designation. Honestly, who do you think of when you envision a saint? Moses? Daniel? Matthew? Mark? Luke? John? Mary, the mother of Jesus? Paul? Or what about Mother Teresa who is set to be canonized as a saint on September 4, 2016 by the Roman Catholic Church? Each of these men and women led lives that were avowed and dedicated to the holy and the miraculous as they trusted their God and His Son, Jesus Christ. Yep. These are the men and women I viewed as saints – and they are all dead. That’s certainly, not me.

Mother Teresa
Mother Teresa  (1910 -1997) Photo Credit: Jean-Claude Francolon

How did I view myself?

Yes, I call myself a Christ follower. However, I have also consistently labeled myself as a sinner saved by the grace of Christ. I am very much aware of my fleshly nature that is capable of just plain yuck. This awareness has consistently driven me to my knees because of my need of my Savior, Jesus Christ. Yet, as I have continued to attend lesson after lesson in my High Trust Leadership Class, the truths of Scripture finally enlightened my soul and being that I’ve been misinterpreting my identity in Christ.

Because of Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection, a once and for all cataclysmic defeat of sin and death for all of mankind (and that’s you and me, too!), Believers in Jesus Christ have been imparted a new and glorious life! It is a righteous and holy life! Sin no longer reigns in us!

How can this be?

Paul says it this way:

When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. New International Version, Romans 6: 20-22

Did you catch that?

The benefits that Christ followers reap in a Christ-centered life is a pathway to holiness.

I am holy, righteous, and set apart as a result of what Jesus Christ did on the cross at Calvary and three days later when He rose from the grave!

I don’t need to call myself a sinner anymore. Nowhere in Scripture, are Believers addressed as sinners. Believers are addressed as saints.

I confess it’s almost too lofty of a thought for me. Yet, I have decided to claim this title. I am a saint.

I have begun a word study on saint. So far, I am camped in the Old Testament. There are two Hebrew words for saint that I have encountered so far.

The first is qadowsh. Qadowsh means sanctified, consecrated and holy one.

The second word for saint as found in the Old Testament is chaciyd. Chaciyd means faithful one, godly  one, and holy one. (In future blog posts, I may unpack these more!)

As a saint, it is my aim to center my life on Christ and live my life honoring Him. I am sanctified and set apart for Him. I am holy because of Christ. I am not some dead saint to be revered. I am not some heavenly saint, yet to come. No, I am a saint set firmly on this ground to proclaim this truth: I belong to Jesus Christ and trust Him for my life. I am holy and set apart and sanctified for Him.

I will not self-manage my shame, guilt or any other kind residual junk that comes from my flesh.

You probably know what I mean.

As Christians we strive to be this, that or the other thing so the outside world thinks we have our life all figured out.

We work hard.

We strive to be good enough.

We hold it together.

We don’t want to let anyone really, truly know what we are struggling with or battling.

We feel like we are in bondage to shame.

No. To keep the flesh in check, we believe we to have to control it. The truth of the matter is that the more we try to control the flesh and harness its power, the more we find ourselves bound to it. It doesn’t have to be this way! This is the redeeming work of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit to attend to the fleshly desires and appetites within us and to defeat them. It’s not our job. Our work is rather to trust Christ and humbly submit to His life-changing work within us.

Bill Tell, Staff Development Specialist with the Navigators, says: “We are not sinners trying to become saints. We cannot use our hard work or efforts to serve as a gateway to freedom from shame. No, Romans 8:1-2 is the needed gateway:

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. New International Version, Romans 8: 1-2

How is this possible?

Check out more words from Saint Paul:

You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of Him, who raised Jesus from the dead is in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who lives in you. New International Version, Romans 8: 9-11

For those of us who have had a conversion experience through the grace of Jesus Christ, we were radically and completely transformed! Right then! Right there! Our fleshly nature died and our life in Christ was born!

Paul says it this way in Ephesians:

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of the light for the fruit of light consists of goodness, righteousness and truth… New International Version, Ephesians 4: 8-9

We have been set free from the chains of darkness and released into the Kingdom of Light. The very nature of Christ is in you and me – we are light – in the Lord.

And that’s what a saint is after all. A saint lives out his/her life in the light of Christ and with the confident assurance that he/she belongs to Him. It is a holy and relational experience. A saint leans into the affirming and welcoming Presence of the Lord and lives out a life of joy, freedom and love for all to see.

This is why this whole deal is a game changer for me.

My identity has always been grounded in Christ since the day I accepted Him as my Savior as a child.

Today, though, I lay claim to a new title in Him.

I am a saint, a child of Light, because of Christ’s redeeming grace, love and power.

I look at myself in an altogether new way! I am looking at myself as my Savior sees me! Not as I see me!

I am a saint – you are too, if you believe in Christ – imagine that!

Claim it! You can! It is who we are!

What do you think of that?

We are Saints
Photo Retrieved from Lyrics I love by Wendy Wilson

 

7 Comments

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  1. I’m curious then… do you consider me a saint? I had at one time accepted Christ, believed in him thoroughly, 100%, and thus supposedly had his transformation in me causing my flesh nature to die and god to be born in me. Am I therefore still a saint? I ask because I’ve found some Christians consider me permanently saved because I was saved once, some consider me permanently damned because I accepted god and then rejected him, and some fall somewhere in between. Not sure what you believe.

    • Hi Evan, thanks for the note!

      Evan, I can only answer you this way: What do you believe about your conversion experience with Jesus Christ? It is not for me to determine whether you are a saint or not. Does something about being a saint, resonate with you?

      You write that you have rejected God, the Father. Have you rejected Jesus, too?

      Honestly, Evan, there is one thing I do believe about you. I believe there is Something at work in you. Your blog focuses upon your faith experience. You could write about so many different things in your life, but you choose to write about God. Why is that?

      One thing I didn’t say in my blog. I didn’t say that God was born in me. What I wrote was that my flesh died and that I was made alive in Christ. He dwells in me and I belong to Him. God is eternal – whether I chose to accept His Son or not. Because I did choose Christ, I claim Paul’s declarative truths about me (from Colossians 3)

      1. I have been raised with Christ.
      2. My mind is set upon Christ and things above – not earthly things.
      3. My flesh has died, my life is now hidden with Christ in God.
      4. Christ is my life.
      5. I been clothed and made righteous in a new self – being.
      6. I am one of God’s chosen people.
      7. I am holy and dearly loved.
      8. I am clothed in compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.
      9. I am forgiven and I forgive.
      10. The word of Christ dwells in me.

      I love my God and I love my Jesus.

      What I appreciate about you, Evan, is that you give me an opportunity to reflect back on what I believe and why. You are choosing to self disclose with me at a personal level. I am humbled by that. Whatever is going on with you at a spiritual level, I count it an honor to walk with you. It is my prayer, as always, that Christ will reveal Himself to you in a deeply personal and meaningful way so that you have no doubt that His hand is offered to you in love!

      One thing I love about this class I am taking is the repeated truth that we do not have to view our lives through glasses of shame and condemnation! We are free to see our lives as Christ sees us! And He sees us beautiful and loved!

      So, all that to say, I cannot tell you if you are a saint or not – that is something that you must discover for yourself.

      • Thank you for your reply! I’ll try to answer your questions about me as best I can.

        What do I believe about my conversion experience? I think it was a powerful and emotional thing that I thought was spiritual at the time. I think my conviction that god was real shaped my life and actions for a long time, sometimes for good, sometimes for bad. Some times my belief in Jesus helped keep me alive and sometimes it dragged me to the edge of death. In the end, I’m glad to be rid of it, but I consider it important to me in a historical way… my previous faith is part of what made me who I am today.

        I do not consider myself a saint, but I also don’t consider myself a sinner. A saint is someone, as you say, who is sanctified by god. As I do not believe god exists, I do not consider myself or anyone else a saint, no matter how good I or they might be. On the other hand, sin is defined as a violation of god’s law. Again, since I don’t believe in god, I don’t believe in sin either. I of course believe there are right things and wrong things to do, but none of those things are “sin”. In fact, I consider the concept of sin morally wrong. If I were to punch someone out of spite, I would not be sinning. No god or gods are being wronged by my actions; a *person* is being wronged by my actions. And that person is the only one to whom I must make amends (or preferably, not punch them in the first place). Calling wrong actions “sin” to me deflects the focus from the victim of the action to another being. I have seen the unfortunate result of this mindset many, many times when people who hurt others will put more effort into repenting to god than making things right with their victims. I have known many who will say “I know god has forgiven me” and thus be unconcerned with whether the person they actually wronged has been taken care of. Now, obviously, one can believe in sin without falling into this trap (although I think it’s very hard to do 100% of the time). But if I remove the concept of “sin” from my moral vocabulary altogether, it eliminates the *possibility *of falling into this trap. There are no external demands from god to cloud my view of caring for and repenting to the *real* victims of abuse and cruelty . This is one of the reasons that I feel I am a much more moral person now that I no longer am a Christian.

        Why do I write about god? That’s a good question. You’ve perhaps noticed that I’ve recently written about it again on my blog. I guess I feel compelled to do so because bad theology has caused me and so many people I love and care about so much pain and suffering… for many of us more so than anything else in our lives. I want to give other people the tools to understand the pain they may be experiencing and help them see through the manipulations and lies that they may have been told to keep them trapped in this pain. I want to prepare myself and others with ways to answer people that try to pressure, guilt, or manipulate us into joining their religion or their particular version of their religion (because here in the US you simply can’t get away from those sorts). And sometimes I just write because I want to put in words the things I wish my younger self had known. I wish I could stand in front of my younger self who was suffering and on the verge of dying and say “you don’t need to believe these things! You don’t need to suffer like this! None of this is real!” Of course, I can’t, but it’s soothing to write it down all the same. It’s helped me heal from the wounds inflicted by Christianity.

        I’m glad that your class teaches you to reject the lens of shame and condemnation. I also reject this worldview and I agree it is so freeing! I do not need to be loved by a supernatural being because what really matters to me is to be loved by and to love other human beings. That, to me, is what’s worth living for.

      • Thank you, Evan, for another insightful reply. Honestly, it just makes me sad that your previous experiences and the hurtful words that were said to you moved you away from Jesus Christ rather than closer to Him. Those representing His name didn’t do a very good job in sharing His love with you.

        There is no condemnation in Christ.

        This is one of the great gifts of true Christianity.

        Yes, I did read your blog post. I didn’t reply to it because my faith experience is so different from what you describe in that particular post – God is just vs God is merciful. For I do see Him as both. We disagree on that point. However, it’s not that big a deal for me as what is most important in terms of my faith walk is that Jesus rose from the dead and defeated death – offering eternal life to all who choose to believe. That’s the big rock I hold to and am grateful for. That’s what my faith is centered upon.

        Resurrection Day is my favorite and most meaningful holiday.

        Have a great week and let’s chat again sometime – soon or later! Doesn’t matter to me! Take good care, heather

      • Thanks for reading! I just want to reiterate that I did not stop believing because other people represented Christianity poorly. I stopped believing because I could see no evidence that any of the claims of Christianity were true. The cruelties of Christianity did influence me to seek more answers and ask more questions, but it is not why I stopped believing. It’s a common misunderstanding that a lot of people have, so I just wanted to clarify to make sure that I’m representing my reasons for belief properly. Have a great Easter Monday!

      • Thanks for the clarification.

        I do remember you sharing that you stopped believing when God went silent in your life. I’m not sure what evidence you looked at to disprove Christianity. However, much of what you have shared with me centers upon how you were treated – especially by your family. The fact that others in your sphere of influence did not woo you towards a greater trust in Christ by how they lived their life and how they treated you is what makes me sad.

        Today is a National Holiday in South Africa – it is Easter Monday, but the holiday here is called Family Day. I always felt that there should be a holiday after Easter! 🙂 So, Happy Family Day, Evan!

      • Happy Family Day to you too!

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