Bruce Collins, Evangelist

The personal website of Bruce Collins

Only a Sinner!
When Jesus heard it, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” (Mark 2:17 NKJV)
And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ (Luke 18:13 NKJV)
My Question
I have been wondering what we as Christians really mean when we say that we are SINNERS saved by grace.  We tell the unsaved that they have to recognize that they are sinners in need of a Savior.  We don’t ask them to tell us what sins have made them sinners, but we imply that they should know that they have sinned.  We preach that the term sinner represents the nature that we have when we are born the first time.  Because we are sinners, the fruit of our lives is sin or acts of sin.  We usually equate the acts of sin with what has been called the seven deadly sins.  They are pride, envy, gluttony, greed, lust, sloth (laziness), and wrath (anger).  Obviously, there are many more sins that could and should be listed that result from our sin nature, but do we really believe that saved people really sin?  When we say we ARE sinners, not that we once were sinners, just what sins have we committed since the day of salvation?  I do believe that we have a new nature once we are saved and that new nature gives us a new conscience about sin.  But I do not believe that any of us can completely cease from sinning.  
Many people are quite open about the kind of life that they led before they were saved.  But are we ashamed of anything that we have done since we have been reached by God’s grace?  Do we really believe that we are just SINNERS saved by grace?  I know that we are made saints or sanctified or holy ones upon believing.  I also know that we are seen in the righteousness of Christ after we are saved.  But John says to the family of God to whom he is writing, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us (1 John 1:8 NKJV).”
The Publican
I believe the publican (the tax collector) was confessing his sin when he went up into the temple to pray.  I think he was saved in the New Testament sense before he approached God.  But apparently, he was still collecting taxes for the Romans and he needed to find a way to quit doing what he was doing and that is why he is praying for mercy.  He wasn’t praying for grace.  He went down to his house justified (or right with God) because He was confessing his sin and was actually acknowledging his need to be free from the occupation he was in.  That is what I think.  I think he represents the attitude every Christian should have after being born again or saved or redeemed.  When he said he was a sinner, he meant it.
The Sin that is Missing
To me the sin that is missing in the above list of seven deadly sins is the sin of questioning God.  It is the sin of unbelief.  It is the sin of telling God how to do His business instead of letting Him tell us.  It is interesting that God calls sinners and not those who think that they are righteous to repentance (or to a change of mind about their righteousness).  
It was the righteous that crucified the Lord.  That is, it was those who saw themselves as righteous, because  they obviously weren’t righteous.  Pilate knew it was envy (pride) that had caused them to want to crucify the Lord.  It seems to me that it is the pride of thinking we are righteous after we are saved that turns people away from the Gospel.  So when we say that we are sinners saved by grace do we really believe that?  If someone were to ask those of us that are just sinners saved by grace, what sins are we talking about, what would we say?
The term Sinner
Saying we are sinners should not be a point of pride or hypocrisy.  It is humbling to realize that we are sinners saved by grace.  But is the sin of questioning God still with us?  Do we try to use good skills of Bible interpretation to understand what really pleases God?  Do we let the Holy Spirit guide us into all truth?  And then when we understand the truth, do we submit to it?  
Our real problem is that before we are saved, we want to tell God how to save us.  After we are saved, we use all kinds of excuses to avoid the plain simple teaching of the epistles that explain the rest of the Bible to us.  We say that Paul was prejudiced, that the manuscripts on which the Bible is based are inaccurate, or that many of the principles laid out in Scripture just do not work in our day.  
God says, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9 NKJV)
Unbelief is the crowning sin in the Bible.   When we as Christians say that we are just sinners saved by grace, unfortunately, that is often the truth.  We have allowed false teachers to lead us away from the simple plain teaching of the Bible.  In addition, moral evil still cropped up in the first century.  Nearly every epistle written to Christians deals with these problems in some way.    It is not an academic issue.  It is reality!  It is time for us to be humbled by the fact that God loved us and saved us because we WERE and we ARE sinners.
Bruce Collins
Meditation for the week of December 4, 2022

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