Let me start by asking: Who is a Christian?
I know some will quickly give an answer by saying, “A Christian is one who is Christlike.”
This is definitely true. In fact Mrs. White wrote clearly that “to be a Christian is to be Christlike.”— Adventist Home, 427. But when we take time to study those who profess to be Christians in our environment and in the Church of God, this question lead us to ask another question: “Did Christ sin in thought and deed?”
The answer to this question is an emphatic No. He didn’t sin in any form. It was written of Christ:
“For he [God] hath made him [Christ] to be sin for us [humanity], who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” 2 Cor. 5:21 (emphasis supplied).
“And ye know that he [Christ] was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.” 1 John 3:5 (emphasis supplied).
Who then is a Christian?
A Christian is one who have experienced deliverance from the power of sin, Satan and the world. Therefore, Christianity is a religion that teaches deliverance from the power of sin, Satan and the world and practical godliness. A life that has not experience deliverance from the power of sin is not a Christian life in truth. He may profess to be a Christian but in reality he is not; he is still in bondage to the power of sin, Satan and the world. “A Christian has victory over his besetments, over his passions.”— White, Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 1, p. 158. Christ is not a minister of sin and His followers should not be the minister of sin like wise (Gal. 2:17). It was written of Christ that He hate sin but loves righteousness. “Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity” Heb 1:9.
It is also written of the true Christian that, “He hates sin . . . The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, which have heretofore been preferred before Christ, are now turned from, and Christ is the charm of his life, the crown of his rejoicing.”— White, Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 2, p. 294.
The primary purpose Christ came into this world is to save His people from their sin. Angel Gabriel told Joseph the mission of Christ when he appeared to him in a dream. He said, “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” Matt 1:21.
It is imperative to note that the Angel didn’t say, “He shall save his people in their sins.” Christ does not save in sin, but out from sin. John gave a similar record. He wrote that Christ “was manifested [revealed] to take away our sins” 1 John 3:5 (emphasis supplied). Christ was revealed to take away our sins. when he take sit away it becomes His and we become the righteousness of God in Christ. Satan seeks to present to professing Christians another gospel which is false. He wants them to believe that Christ will save them in their sin. Sin is powerful and until we understand this fact we cannot understand the power of grace. The failure to overcome sin daily lies in the failure to understand this fact that sin is powerful and controlling. Overcoming sin of any kind is not about trying, it is by the indwelling grace of Christ in the life. Overcoming sin lies in a power stronger than sin and outside of us. This is where grace comes in. The embodiment of grace is revealed in the person of Jesus Christ.
Grace is popularly defined as unmerited favor of Christ towards a repentant sinner. This is right and true. This definition steam from some Biblical accounts such as the flood account when “Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD” despite living amidst a corrupt world that is “filled with violence”. (Gen. 6:8, 11). Or when Lot found grace in the sight of God before the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. (Gen. 19:19). Jacob, Joseph, Moses also found unmerited favor in the sight of God (Gen 33:10, 39:4, Ex. 33:12). These account and many more proves that when a soul finds grace in the sight of God, he or she finds unmerited favor. This unmerited favor is what Christ gave, as a gift, to humanity that they might be saved from sin, Satan and the world.
Paul wrote that, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Eph 2:8-9. It is by grace, the unmerited favor, of Christ extended to sinners like us that delivers us from the power of sin. But this grace, being a gift, must be received by faith. The hand that receives this precious gift of grace is faith. Faith is not the power that saves. Grace is what saves. Faith is the invisible hand that receives from the omnipotent God that saves. “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.” Romans 5:8-9. “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God” 1 John 3:1. Such grace is called forgiving grace. This grace justifies the sinner who believes in the atoning death of Jesus Christ and receives it by the hand of faith. This grace cleanses the soul that is defiled with sin. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9. This grace reclaims the sinner from the garb and stronghold of sin.
What is your habit? Is it anger? Is it addiction to fornication, adultery, pornography, masturbation, gambling, lying, stealing? Do you indulge in drinking alcohol, smoking and gluttony? Are you struggling with sinful passions? You need the forgiving grace that delivers from any manner of sin. This grace does not just forgive, it removes sin of the heart. John rightfully said, it also “cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9. To cleanse means to take away or remove sin out of the heart in such a way that the stains and filthiness of sin will not be seen by God the Father anymore because of the antoning blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, has made it so. Some may say, how is this possible? All you need do is have faith and it is so.
Despite the aforementioned definition of grace being an unmerited favor of Christ toward the repentant sinner. This grace is called FORGIVING GRACE. But this grace has a second part. Grace is not just forgiveness of sin, reclaiming or deliverance from its power. Grace is also the power and strength given to those who have experienced the new birth; those who have experienced the forgiving grace that they may daily overcome through the strength and power of Christ that works in them. This is what I call, the OVERCOMING GRACE. Many receive the forgiving grace and went on to rely on their strength in overcoming sin. They end up falling and rising, falling and rising believing this to be a true Christian experience. This is false.
If we are Christians, bearing the mark and stamp of Christ’s name upon our forehead, did Jesus Christ, sin, repent, sin, repent while he was here on earth? A true Christian should daily overcome every known sin, that the spirit of Christ reveals to him or her through the Law, by the power of Christ that Christ is willing to give them daily.
In our next article, we shall study carefully this OVERCOMING GRACE and see from the scripture how it can be obtained NOW.