Stamp of Approval

It’s Time To Be A Humble Sinner Rather Than A Self-Righteous Saint!

The words sinner and saint are loaded terms. They mean different things to different people. They are like the word church, which can also mean various things. The word church might be thought of as a specific building where people go to worship God. It might mean a particular denomination like Lutheran or Roman Catholic. Church might mean a specific or local congregation. To some, church means something to avoid or reject.

I understand saint to mean a singular believer in Christ and the communion of saints, to be the plural number of those who believe in Christ. To many, the word saint means holiness or righteousness. Christians understand their holiness comes from Christ. Believers in Christ recognize they are sinners who have been cleansed by the shed blood of Christ and with His innocent suffering and death. In Christ, we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins by God’s grace. (Ephesians 1:7)

Ed, my old neighbor in Saskatchewan, has a different understanding of the word saint.  To him, a saint is an annoying self-righteous person convinced of their moral superiority and who shows a mean-hearted rejection of others which are obvious sinners in their eyes.

I told Ed that Jesus warned of self-righteous saints through one of his stories. It’s found in Luke 18:10-14: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about Himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men – robbers, evildoers, adulterers – or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get. But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

In the season of Lent, we seek to recognize that we can get carried away with our righteousness and look down on others. The world at any given time is never short on folks who see themselves as better than others. When we compare ourselves to others, we will readily see how we might be more or less or about equal to others. Comparisons such as: who is taller, older, a harder worker, more stubborn, more sinful, etc., never end.

Christians are to compare themselves to the sinless life of Jesus, His sacrificial death for all sinners, including those crucifying Him. Christians are to remember, “There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Our righteousness is not about being right or doing right but about trust in the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ, God’s Son. We trust that we are justified freely through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Jesus as a sacrifice of atonement through faith in His blood. (Romans 3:19-25) “By grace, we are saved, through faith – and this not from ourselves. It is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9   

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