“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.
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.
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?