Saints and Sinners

1044093_just_watchingHebrews 10:14  For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. 


Hebrews 10 confronts us with a seeming impossibility, improvement of that which is already perfect.  The confusion is cleared up when we understand that the writer is talking about two different aspects of our salvation here.  God’s once and for all declaration that guilty sinners are righteous through faith in the gospel (justification – our holy position) and our ongoing call to progress in holiness (sanctification – our holy practice).


We must, at the writer of Hebrews says elsewhere make every effort to be holy.  The sign of genuine saving grace is the passionate pursuit of sanctifying grace.  Christians are to be a holy people.


But our pursuit of holiness will surely go astray if the firm foundation of and motivation for that pursuit isn’t the justifying grace of the gospel.  When one is secure in God’s love for them and acceptance of them and in His justifying grace the pursuit of holiness becomes a joyful journey where every discovery of sin is also a discovery of grace because we find the debt of that sin forgiven and the power of that sin broken so that we can change.  The sad alternative is a depressing death march where every discovery of or mention of sin only seems to drive us deeper into despair and farther from God.


We are SAINTS positionally but remain SINNERS in practice.  Understanding that tension is critical to living a life of holiness and avoiding the twin dangers of  license (“We are forgiven saints, what does it matter what we do?”) and legalism (Living as if God’s love, acceptance and daily help was dependent on what I do or don’t do.)


Understanding that tension is also critical to the balance we give to those two truths – that we are both saints and sinners – as we pursue holiness.  19th century pastor Robert Murray McCheyne captured the right balance perfectly when he said – “For one look at yourself take ten looks at Christ.”  In other words as we pursue holiness never lose sight that that pursuit is not to gain some standing with God but because we already have a perfect standing with God through Christ.  So as we pursue holiness in the coming year let us be constantly reminding ourselves and others that “by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.”


[written by Mickey Connolly]