It’s Not Just Semantics

Q. I have a question regarding this “sinner-righteous” position. In Romans, Paul makes it clear that we were sinners before Christ came into our lives. In 2 Corinthians 5:17 (“old things have passed away; behold all things are become new”, and then verse 21 (“…that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him”), it seems to me that we have been changed from actually being “sinners” to “sons of God” (many verses that I know you know!). So, is this just a semantics thing, or what? I know that I sin, but in Romans 7, Paul says that it is “sin in me” not “me” that is sinning. This difference makes all the difference, as I see it, in how we perceive ourselves; and this perception is affirming of Christ’s finished work on Calvary.

A. You’re describing our status as God has chosen to see us, since by faith we have accepted the death of Jesus as payment in full for our sins. But in reality we still sin. Paul explained this in Romans 7:18-20 when he said he couldn’t keep himself from doing things he didn’t want to do. Then he referred to the change in God’s perception of him by saying when he sinned it wasn’t him but the sin living within him that was at fault.

So the point is this. Because of our faith, God has chosen to see us now as we will be after He has perfected us, not as we still are. Paul said our response should be to “live up to what we’ve already attained” (Phil. 3:16), because although “everything is permissible, not everything is beneficial” (1 Cor. 10:13). Striving to live a life pleasing to God is the way we express our gratitude for having already been made perfect in His sight.

So it’s not just semantics. It’s the freedom to reach for the highest levels of spiritual maturity without any possibility of failure and with every possibility of blessing.

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