Saints, Sinners and Strugglers
Do you feel discouraged in your struggles against sin? Pastor Oliver encourages us to not lose heart but trust in the work of our faithful God.
One of the best descriptions of a Christian that I've read is that believers are sinners, saints and strugglers at the same time. When we repented of our sins and trusted in Jesus Christ, we were sanctified in Christ Jesus and set apart to be His holy people (saints) (1 Cor 1:2). We are now God's special possession and people (1 Pet 2:9). We are a new creation in Christ Jesus (2 Cor 5:17). Yet, as many of us are deeply aware, though the penalty and power of sin have been broken by Christ death on the Cross and His resurrection, sin is still present in our lives.
We are living in a broken and fallen world. We still sin in our thoughts, desires and actions (1 Jn 1:8). Creation still awaits the complete restoration that will come when Christ returns (Rom 8:22-23). and because creation is broken, we will still experience the effects of the fall. Our health fails, we face conflicts in our relationships, and we still struggle daily with our sins and idols. God's work, which started when the Spirit of Christ came to dwell in us, will be finally completed when Christ returns. So, in this in-between time of Jesus first and second coming, we will still struggle because of the fall's ongoing effects. Believers are simultaneously saints, sinners and strugglers.
We are still sinners. We should not be complacent about our ongoing battle with sin (1 Jn 1:8, 1 Pet 2:11). To presume that we are prefect would mean we will neglect to be watchful when facing temptations. It also means that we shouldn't be surprised when a fellow church member sins or sin against you. As sinners, we will still continue to hurt one another in our interactions. Decide to continue to forgive one another (Eph 4:32).
Yet we are now saints. When guilt for our sins threatens to overwhelm us, remember that there is no condemnation for us who are in Christ Jesus (Rom 8:1). Our identity is that we are now God's people and loved by Him (1 Pet 2:9, Zeph 3:17). As saints, we can now walk in Jesus and grow increasingly to Christlikeness (Col 2:6-7, Eph 4:15). It also means that we can believe that other believers can change and grow. The gospel is not only the power of God for salvation (Rom 1:16). God's power also enables us to change and grow increasingly to Christlikeness (Phil 1:6, Eph 2:10). This means we should be hopeful that other believers can change. We continue to speak scripture with love, helping one another grow to maturity in Christ.
But we live in a fallen and broken world, as we hope for the restoration of all things when Christ returns. We will face struggles. Even if you do not struggle now, you would have faced struggles in the past and will face struggles to come. We cannot escape the taint of the corruption of this broken world. We will face injustice at work, struggle with physical, emotional and mental health, and heartbreaks in our families. This means that as believers, we ought to grow in our compassion and empathy for one another. We are all facing our personal struggles. Be quick to sympathise and show care. So, let us come together as the faith community of this local church and bear one another's burden (Gal 6:2).
The gospel offers hope for believers. Christ died for our sins at the Cross and was raised to life for our lives. And Jesus understands and sympathises with our weaknesses and struggles. The author of Hebrews reminds us: "for we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathise with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin" (Heb 4:15). Jesus struggled and faced the Cross and crucifixion, and yet did not sin, as He continued to entrust Himself to His Father God. And God vindicated Jesus by raising Him from the dead to life. May we continue to trust in our faithful God and walk daily in faith, remembering that we are saints, sinners and strugglers.
- There will be a Good Friday Service on April 2 at 9am. Easter services will be conducted on Saturday, April 3, at 5pm and Sunday, April 4, at 9am. We will also receive new members via baptisms and transfers this weekend. Do invite your friends and family to join us for these services.
- We will be having a Quarterly Congregational Meeting (QCM) for English Congregation members on Sunday, April 11 at 2pm. The Zoom link is http://gracebaptistchurch.sg/gbcmeets. We will be giving thanks for new CGs, welcoming more than 20 new members and introducing new leaders. Do join us for this meeting!