~ by Mark Maulding
God uses birth, not behavior or performance, to determine who you are. As a Christ follower, If you have been considering your behavior or performance to come to a conclusion of who you are and you see yourself only through the lens of what you do or don’t do, then I have good news for you! Remember! God uses birth, not behavior or performance to determine who you are!
When you hear, “I’m just a sinner saved by grace,” you have often heard it so many times that you probably nod your head in agreement without giving it much thought. However, you cannot find any New Covenant scriptures which proclaim that you are a sinner as a Christ follower. You may say, “What about where Paul writes:
1 Timothy 1:15 (TPT) “I can testify that the Word is true and deserves to be received by all, for Jesus Christ came into the world to bring sinners back to life—even me, the worst sinner of all!”
If you start reading in verse 9 and then to 17, you will see the larger story he is using to make this statement. He is saying that because he persecuted the church before he met Jesus on the Damascus Road, he is the worst sinner ever, and if God can save a sinner like him, He can save anyone.
When I played basketball in high school, I set a record for the most rebounds ever in the history of the school. A rebound is when you grab the basketball after it hits the backboard or rim and doesn’t go in the basket. To my knowledge, I still hold that record a few decades later. Though I have graduated from high school and no longer attend there, would it be a fair statement to say that I am the “chief rebounder” at my high school? Yes, it would be, though I am no longer a part of that school. It is simply a part of my past, just as Paul being the chief of sinners was a part of his past, though he says it in present tense.
Another issue is that you may have been told most of your life that you have two natures as a Christian — the old nature and the new nature. However, Romans is very clear that your old nature, identified as “sinner,” died once and for all on the cross with Jesus:
Romans 6:6 (TPT) “Could it be any clearer that our former identity is now and forever deprived of its power? For we were co-crucified with him to dismantle the stronghold of sin within us, so that we would not continue to live one moment longer submitted to sin’s power.”
It was put to death and you were given a new nature – Christ’s nature:
2 Corinthians 5:17 (TPT) “Now, if anyone is enfolded into Christ, he has become an entirely new creation. All that is related to the old order has vanished. Behold, everything is fresh and new.”
One more challenge you may find is that you grew up reading the New International Version Bible. I like it too, except where they translated the word flesh as sinful nature. That is very confusing because the old nature is dead and removed. However, God did not remove the flesh from the Christ follower. In addition, the old nature and the flesh are not the same. So when you see in places like Romans 8 that we are dealing with a sinful nature, it’s easy to make the assumption that you have one. To the NIV’s credit, the newest version changed 95% of those back to the flesh, which is more accurate.
Rejoice today! Though you and I can certainly act in a sinful way, we do not have a sinful nature.
Scripture states that the battlefield is in the mind. The conflict is between the flesh and the Spirit, not between two natures.
Galatians 5:17 (TPT) “For your self – life craves the things that offend the Holy Spirit and hinder him from living free within you! And the Holy Spirit’s intense cravings hinder your old self – life from dominating you! So then, the two incompatible and conflicting forces within you are your self – life of the flesh and the new creation life of the Spirit.”
“Why is this so important?” you may be asking. Because it goes to the very heart of the Gospel about what really happened when Jesus died on the cross for us and when we died with Him. Then, God raised us up with Him to walk in newness of life, for the very first time! It goes to the core of who you really are deep within. Can your identity be both a sinner and a saint, based on rebirth? Or, are you a saint who sometimes sins? According to Romans 6, you are a saint who sometimes sins. When we teach this truth on your new identity in Christ to people here at GLI and they have embraced it, we’ve watched God change their perspective. Why? People tend to act in a manner in how they see themselves. Will you believe the truth today so you can live freer in your own life?
Believe it! It’s the Gospel.
Live Free In Christ,
Mark Maulding, President and Founder
www.GraceLifeInternational.com – Leading Christians Into the Life-Giving Power of God’s Grace
© Mark Maulding (But feel free to share this.)
Bestselling Author God’s Best-Kept Secret: Christianity Is Easier Than You Think