Artists—singers, painters, writers, communicators—are often an odd blend of the hermit and the communal animal. Artists get in heated discussions of deep philosophical or theological concepts. Great storytellers they are and laugh at their own jokes. They cry more, laugh more, and sometimes withdraw more than most people. They swallow life in great gulps, then distill the pain and glory to three verses and a chorus or a play or a scene for I’m just a sinner saved by grace.
Gaither Vocal Band enlightens us once again with their song. Though the details may differ from story to story, we all are sinners—saved only by the wonderful grace of God.
When I stood condemned to death
He took my place
Now I live and breathe in freedom with each breath of life i take
Loved and forgiven
Back with the living
I’m just a sinner saved by grace
You are not just a “Sinner Saved by Grace”
If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, the problem with being “just a sinner saved by grace” is that it is, quite simply, untrue. It is high time to discard this tired phrase and the thinking that surrounds it. Here’s why.
Only the grace of God can indeed save us and all too frequently it is distorted to mean something it does not. I could certainly opine about the excesses and errors of hyper-grace theology, of which there is no shortage. But suffice it to say, any definition of grace that in any way grants a license to wrongdoing fundamentally misrepresents the nature of God’s grace. Grace does not provide an excuse for sin; it liberates us from sin’s power and enables us to live free.
And misrepresenting the nature of grace is precisely what “just a sinner saved by grace” does because it identifies us with a life that was nailed to the cross over two thousand years ago.
Often when I hear this line tossed around it is in the context of a Christian struggling against a particular vice, battling a destructive habit that has plagued him for some time. However honest and transparent said person may be about his weaknesses and his desire to be restored, to identify as “just a sinner” seldom helps him. It is rooted in false humility, and false humility is one sly deception and thief of destiny. If we are in Him, sin is no longer the truest thing about us, so why call ourselves as such? “Saved by grace” is not a mere afterthought to be tagged onto a misnomer. Grace is our new life.
Jesus is the ONLY WAY
In the person of Jesus Christ, who knew no sin but became it for us, his grace makes us brand new. For if any man is in Him, he is a new creature: old things have passed away; all things become new (2 Cor 5:17). The journey of learning to live in that newness of life requires a transformation process that can only happen by the renewing of the mind. We get to learn not the pat, Sunday school answers to life’s questions but how to believe and think like Jesus, how to operate from his perspective, and best of all, how to walk in the same intimate union with the Father that he did. This is the life now available for us to abide in by the power of the Holy Spirit.
When we know who we are, the voice of the Evil One has no sway. He can only undermine us when we begin to doubt our identity in Him. He cannot intimidate or subvert a man or woman walking in the knowledge of the Truth, conscious of the reality of God’s manifest presence. So if you believe that you are “just a sinner,” by faith you are guaranteed to sin even more. Not exactly accurate nomenclature for the victory over sin for which Jesus paid the ultimate price. As one persecutor turned apostle once said, “since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it?”
Just a thought, but perhaps the first step to discontinue living in it is to stop naming ourselves after it.
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God bless you and the people you love.