Sinner – Saint Paradox - I Can’t Dance…Do You Love Me? – Purity 654
Purity 654 02/14/2022 Purity 654 Podcast
Today’s photo of a glimmering sunrise at Hillsboro Beach, Florida comes to us from my personal photo archives and was taken 10 days after Valentine’s Day in 2015. A lot has changed in my life since that time and I share it today because I find myself in a very reflective mood as I had a pretty eventful weekend and luckily decided last week to take today off from work.
Last Monday I decided to take off today because I realized that it was not only going to be “Super Bowl Monday” but it was also going to be the first Valentine’s Day that my wife TammyLyn and I would celebrate as a couple!
In case you are wondering, enjoying Valentine’s Day in my wife’s company and the love we share is the focus today. While I did stay up to see the game last night and 10pm is late for me, Super Bowl Monday will not be the recuperative holiday for me as it was in the past.
I don’t drink anymore so it will not be a day of hangovers, or continued day drinking, as it had been in my past when I was in bondage to my many addictions. But I have to admit that the end of the NFL football season is still somewhat of an event and a milestone each year for me as I see it as somewhat of a seasonal marker for our nearing “mid-winter”, as President’s Day is next week and after that our hopes for spring arriving are not so distant, or unrealistic, anymore! As we go through what can be challenging winters in upstate NY, every milestone we can reach that brings us closer to the season of green is to be considered a victory and should be celebrated!
But today, beyond seasonal milestones, I am thanking God in heaven above for the gift of His love that has not only empowered me to leave the darkness of my past behind but for staying with me and guiding me to help me to find the love of my life here on earth in my wife, TammyLyn!
My wife and I were brought together through our seeking to serve and know God more and I know that God brought TammyLyn into my life as a partner for life and as an expression of His love for both of us. Valentine’s Day is the holiday where we remember the love in our life and I am filled with joy at the prospect of just spending the day with TammyLyn in each other’s presence.
And of course if we are to celebrate love today, we have to remember that God is love and how He showed His love for all of us in Jesus Christ.
1 John 4:7-11 (NKJV)
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
9 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.
10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
Yeah, God showed His love for us all by sending Jesus to pay for our sins and by giving eternal life to those who put their faith in Him. And Jesus’s simple commandments tell us that we are to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves.
God wants us to have a love relationship with Him and share the love He pours into us with the people in our lives.
The problem with this possible “love connection” with God, isn’t God. It’s us. Like Peter in Luke 5, when he got the idea that Jesus was the Messiah, we think we are not worthy because we are sinful men and when we think about the holiness of God we wonder if there is any way that God could possibly love us.
My mind goes to strange places sometimes and this morning I thought about that Contour’s R&B Hit “Do you love me..(Now that I can Dance).
When we think of God, we think we have to earn His love by being good or holy. We wrongly get the idea that our performance will be the only thing that will make us right with Him and that we have to make Him love us.
But the thing is that we don’t have to “really move”, or “really groove”, we don’t have to “mash potatoes” (whatever that is), or “do the twist” to make God love us.
Our confusion about the whole “sinner/saint paradox” can drive us away from God when we think we have to earn His love. But God is love, He loves sinners like you and me, and wants us to know His love and the new eternal life He offers us in Christ.
And I know, you may be saying did: “M.T. Clark, a vocal advocate for knowing that we are saints and for experiencing our freedom in Christ just call himself, and me, a sinner?
Yes, we are saints who sin. We sinned before Christ and because we are not perfect like Christ, we will sin after we make Him our Lord and Savior, after He gives us a new and everlasting spiritual life and our new identity as saints.
This saint/sinner paradox reminds me of the scene in the film, “Chinatown” where Jack Nicholson slaps Faye Dunaway repeatedly demanding the truth until she shamefully has to admit that due to an incestuous encounter with her father, “her sister” was in fact “her daughter”!, proving that two seemingly contradictory things can be simultaneously true.
And that’s what a paradox is – a situation like our Christian identity where we are truly born again adopted children of God, saints, who unfortunately will sin by either the things we do or the things we fail to do. Unfortunately this paradox can really confuse us.
Our guilt, shame, and the devil is there to slap us around with his temptations, accusations, and condemnations that tell us we are a sinner and God can’t love us.
But Christ is there to tell us, like the woman caught in adultery, that we are truly are forgiven, we are not condemned, we are new creations, and He encourages us to experience the peace and joy of being a saint by “sinning no more”.
This sinner/saint paradox can drive us absolutely batty and may make us want to smack ourselves!
But we don’t have to slap ourselves or dance to earn God’s love, and as James 1 indicates, we shouldn’t doubt the love of God, and the forgiveness and sainthood we receive when we put our faith in Jesus, because if we do doubt we will tend to be double minded and be unstable in all our ways.
Christ wants us to know the love of God and to give us rest.
In 2015 when I took today’s photo, I was a Christian but man did I have a lot of the sinful habits in my life that made me feel unworthy. But even though I was living in sinful patterns; I knew that God’s word was true and told me that I was forgiven and was a new creation. Because of my continual failures and dark ways, I rejoiced over my salvation because I knew I “couldn’t dance” and earn my place in God’s kingdom.
But I didn’t need to dance. I just needed to abide in Christ to know His presence and love and to walk with Him. So I walked. I rejoiced that I was “just a sinner saved by grace” all through the wild days of my mad existence as a double minded unstable carnal Christian.
At the time I took today’s photo, I had been living this tumultuous life of a Christian living in the condemnation of a life of the flesh for about 5 years. But I kept walking and talking with God and about a month after I took this photo, I walked into a Christian recovery program and put down the booze and the condemnation that came with it for good.
God gives us His love and encourages us to walk toward Him. Our relationship with Him isn’t based on our performance, but God does encourage us to walk like His Son Jesus Christ walked, because He knows of the peace, love, and joy that we can experience when we walk in the Spirit.
I used to identify myself as a sinner saved by grace (and I am one) but when I did that, I made the mistake of identifying with my sin more than with the new creation that God made me to be, a saint, when I put my faith in Christ.
And when I realized that my identity as a saint, who admittedly sins, was not just a theological concept but was a spiritual and existential reality that I could live in, I decided to believe it and live it out.
And I can tell you that, when I started identifying myself with who I am in Christ, the chains of “the sinner” were loosened and I was able to break free and walk away from them.
I am still far from being perfect, but I am experiencing a victorious life of freedom from many of my past sins and habits because I have drawn closer to the One who is perfect and identify with God more than the things that would separate me from Him.
So as we celebrate the love we have today on Valentine’s Day, remember that God is love and that His love for you and the gift of salvation and a new life in Christ are free. He loves you just the way you are, but He would encourage you to stop slapping yourself around and instead agree to embrace the new life He has for you.
The greatest love of all can be happening to you. When you accept God’s love, you can learn to love yourself and then take the love God has given you to love the other people in your life.
Today’s Bible verses come to us from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”.
This morning’s meditation verse is:
Psalm 38:9 (NLT2)
9 You know what I long for, Lord; you hear my every sigh.
Today’s Bible verses tells us that God knows what we long for and that He hears us as we lament and walk through life.
Part of the problem we can have with our experiencing the love of God is that we may have idea that God is somehow distant or uncaring.
But the truth is that God is all knowing and that He is love. God’s love is demonstrated through the advent of Christ on the earth to reconcile us to Him.
As our Creator, God made us. He knows us inside and out! His omniscience is testified about in His word and today’s verse indicates that He knows the desire of our hearts!
He knows us! He loves us! And as today’s verse tells us He even hears our every sigh!
So as today is Valentine’s and the enemy may seek to torment those of us who don’t have a perfect romantic love relationship in our lives, let me remind you and encourage you that God’s love is the greatest love of all and that you can receive comfort from it always and have the assurance that, no matter what, God will never leave you or forsake you.
God’s love has carried me through the toughest trials of my life, and I know that in the darkest days of my soul that He heard my every sigh, wiped away every one of my tears, and gave me hope.
So whether you are actively enjoying the benefits of loving relationships in your life or not, remember that God loves for you is real and powerful and when you abide in it you can feel it and the peace and joy of having Him forever in your life.
As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org where I always share insights from prominent Christian theologians and counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk.
Paul prays in Ephesians 1:18, “I pray the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.” Jesus has met your needs for acceptance, security, and significance. Read the following list aloud, morning and evening, for the next few weeks. Think about what you are reading and let the truth of who you are in Christ renew your mind. This is your inheritance in Christ.
I renounce the lie that I am rejected, unloved, or shameful.
In Christ I am accepted.
· I am God’s child. (John 1:12)
· I am Christ’s friend. (John 15:5)
· I have been justified. (Romans 5:1)
· I am united with the Lord and I am one spirit with Him. (1 Corinthians 6:17)
· I have been bought with a price: I belong to God. (1 Corinthians 6:19, 20)
· I am a member of Christ’s body. (1 Corinthians 12:27)
· I am a saint, a holy one. (Ephesians 1:1)
· I have been adopted as God’s child. (Ephesians 1:5)
· I have direct access to God through the Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 2:18)
· I have been redeemed and forgiven of all my sins. (Colossians 1:14)
· I am complete in Christ. (Colossians 2:10)
· I renounce the lie that I am guilty, unprotected, alone, or abandoned.
In Christ I am secure.
· I am free from condemnation. (Romans 8:1, 2)
· I am assured that all things work together for good. (Romans 8:28)
· I am free from any condemning charges against me. (Romans 8:31-34)
· I cannot be separated from the love of God. (Romans 8:35-39)
· I have been established, anointed, and sealed by God. (2 Corinthians 1:21, 22)
· I am confident that the good work God has begun in me will be perfected. (Philippians 1:6)
· I am a citizen of heaven. (Philippians 3:20)
· I am hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:3)
· I have not been given a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7)
· I can find grace and mercy to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)
· I am born of God and the evil one cannot touch me. (1 John 5:18)
I renounce the lie that I am worthless, inadequate, helpless, or hopeless.
In Christ I am significant.
· I am the salt of the earth and the light of the world. (Matthew 5:13, 14)
· I am a branch of the true vine, Jesus, a channel of His life. (John 15:1,5)
· I have been chosen and appointed by God to bear fruit. (John 15:16)
· I am a personal, Spirit-empowered witness of Christ’s. (Acts 1:8)
· I am a temple of God. (1 Corinthians 3:16)
· I am a minister of reconciliation for God. (2 Corinthians 5:17-21)
· I am God’s coworker. (2 Corinthians 6:1)
· I am seated with Christ in the heavenly realm. (Ephesians 2:6)
· I am God’s workmanship, created for good works. (Ephesians 2:10)
· I may approach God with freedom and confidence. (Ephesians 3:12)
· I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me! (Philippians 4:13)
I am not the great “I Am,” but by the grace of God I am what I am.
(See Exodus 3:14; John 8:24, 28, 58; 1 Corinthians 15:10.)
OVERCOMING ANCESTRAL SINS
148. Luke 6:40
149. Exodus 20:4-6157
Join our “Victory over the Darkness”, “The Bondage Breaker”, "Freedom in Christ" series of Discipleship Classes via the mt4christ247 podcast!
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My wife, TammyLyn, also offers Christian encouragement via her Facebook Group: Ask, Seek, Knock (https://www.facebook.com/groups/529047851449098 ) and her podcast Ask, Seek, and Knock on Podbean (https://feed.podbean.com/tammalyn78/feed.xml)
Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship