Am l Still a Sinner?
Let me be honest, for much of my Christian life I had a secret fear of the Holy Spirit. Partly because back in the day, we used words like ‘the Holy-Ghost!’ (a horrifying thought for a young boy!), and partly because I had heard so many hellfire and brimstone sermons. I remember being taught that if I do not listen to the Holy Spirit, I might end up like Ananias and Sapphira! I would imagine myself suddenly dying in the midst of worship because of my hidden sins!
The teachings of those days were so full of legalism. I never understood that the Holy Spirit is so very kind, gentle and he loves to tell me of who I am, not who I was! Now, you might ask me, ‘Are you saying that the Holy Spirit does not convict us of our sin?’. And yes! That’s exactly what I am saying.
He now convicts me of who I am in light of the cross.
I can already picture some religious cows getting ready for the abattoir of grace! “You mean I get to sin when I want without consequences and the Holy Spirit will just stand by and watch?” Of course not. If your predisposition is to see how much sin you can get away with, something is very wrong! The Spirit of grace, who is the Holy Spirit, is not about what we can get away with, but what we get to enjoy because of our new found right-standing with the Father! He teaches us to say ‘no’ to sin because children of God do not act that way. He reminds us of who we are!
Paul did the same thing. He spoke of who we are in order to help us realise we can, and will, overcome sin. In the church at Corinth, there was so much glory and sin in one place, Paul lists the sins of the past, and then he says ‘And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.’ (1Corinthians 6:11) Thank God for the word ‘but‘! We’d all be dead in the water without that word.
At the cross, Jesus said ‘It is finished’, this was not a statement related to our pardoning of sin, this had to do with an invasion of new creation upon an old earth that needs to be redeemed. I’m a new creation! You see, at the cross and through the resurrection, a new day dawned, a day of new life. And because Jesus was resurrected, we were resurrected. Just as the Father was pleased after the creation and rested, so, when Jesus had paid the price for the new creation, he could cry out, ‘it is finished’. Because from then on, new life would be breaking out on an old earth, redeeming people and nations and tribes all over the world. In this, the promise made to Abraham before the law would now be fulfilled not because of the law but because the mark of this new creation is a believing people. A faith-filled people!
The sum of Paul’s argument is that you were once a people marked by the circumcision of the flesh, but now your identity as the new creation is characterised by your faith! It’s not your right law-keeping or even your lawbreaking that sets you apart, but it is faith!
So what does this mean then?
My identity is now irrevocably changed. I am a son. Nothing can undo that. The cross is not the end point of our salvation, and it was not for Jesus. Our very life is now hidden with Him on high. The end point is the glorious duty of delighting in the Father forever and ever! I was dead to God, but now this union has produced a oneness with him that can’t be undone! It’s exciting! And what’s more exciting is that the primary reason for this union is the pleasure of knowing Him and being known by Him.
Calvin said this:
‘Engrafted into the death of Christ, we derive a secret energy from it. As the shoot does from the root. It is divine energy that flows through you ‘for it is God who works in you both to will and to do his good pleasure’ (Phil 2:13).
By the Spirit of God we remember who we really are in Christ.
Julian is a Director at Frequentsee, and author of The Kiss of the Father. He is passionate about bringing people into an authentic encounter with the Holy Spirit. He resides in Durban, South Africa, with his wife, Katia, and two children.