February 02, 2011

Better Sinners?

John 8:31-34; Romans 6:11-18

If you hold to my teaching . . . you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

—  John 8:31-32

Fact 1: No one is perfect. We’ll always be sinners in this life.

Fact 2: Jesus makes us new, setting us free from our sin.

How can both of these be true? Are we stuck in sin or freed from it? Or both? The Bible assures us that we are new creatures in Christ. But if we’re new, why do we still resent people who hurt us? Why do we obsess over buying stuff? Why do we worry as if we have no faith?

Let’s get more specific. King David was a sinner: he arranged the murder of a soldier to cover up an affair he had with the man’s wife (2 Samuel 11). Yet God called David “a man after his own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22). So, was David also a sinner “after [God’s] own heart”? What would that mean?

In this life, we’re never done with sin. But God’s not done with us either. He makes us new through a process called sanctification. But how does that work? And should we be worried that maybe his sanctification isn’t enough?

Here’s where the Bible’s stories are so important. The more we get to know the sinners of the Bible, the more we begin to discover what it looks like when God changes someone. Then we can see better how God is working to make changes in our lives.

Lord, though we'd rather be congratulated on our spiritual success, we need you to astonish us with your grace. Please turn our eyes toward you. Amen.

About the author — Ron Vanderwell

Ron Vanderwell recently became the senior pastor of New Life Church in New Lenox, Illinois. He has been a pastor for 22 years, serving as a church planter for the previous 12 years at The Gathering in Sacramento, California, and before that as a pastor in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Ron and his wife, Deb, have three sons: John, Adam, and Jake. Ron shares more of his reflections on “squinting” for God in his blog at www.squintforgod.com.

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