What stance should I, a Christian, take on my own state of being before God? Am I sinful or holy?
Paul confesses of himself, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst” (1 Timothy 1:15). However, he also states, “Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin” (1 Corinthians 1:30 NLT). Through these verses, and many more, we can see the basic Christian teaching that without Christ, we are nothing but sinful creatures; but with Christ, we are holy, a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9-10). So the two truths we have are:
1. We are utterly sinful apart from Christ.
2. With Christ, we are totally cleansed and holy through our union with him.
Holiness and Humility: You Can’t Have One Without the Other
If we were to deny either one of these truths, then our standing before God would crumble. We must never deny our own sinfulness apart from Christ, but we must also never deny how completely the work of Christ has changed us through grace and justification. Indeed, if either of these truths were forgotten, this would be evidence that we don’t know God; for the mark of holiness from God is the humility to know that everything good that I am comes completely from him.
Yes we are holy, yes we are pure, yes we are a royal priesthood – but this is solely due to Christ. Apart from him we are nothing but sin (John 15:5, Galatians 2:20).
Holiness and Humility: The More Holy and Humble You Are, the More You’ll Realize How Much You’re Not
Ironically, the deeper you move into Christ, the more you realize how sinful you are apart from him. The clearer your eyes become because of him, the clearer you can understand how poorly you see without Jesus. The mark of maturity in Christ is the ability to recognize one’s own immaturity when away from Christ. The more holiness and humility I receive, the more heightened my senses become to all the un-holiness that still occurs when I drift from him. You will sin less the more holy you become, but the sin that remains will hurt your more.
The closer I draw to Jesus, the more fully aware I become of my own sinfulness apart from him and thus my deep, eternal need for him.
Holiness and Humility: The More Holy You Are, the More Humbly You Rely on God
Holiness given by God, therefore, never boasts in itself. Holiness from God comes with the humility to know how evil we are without him. The mark of a true saint is seen in the person who knows how evil he or she truly is apart from Jesus, and thus gives all the credit to God for the holiness, purity, and freedom that is truly theirs in Christ. If we truly are holy in Christ, we will have the humility to know that it comes from Christ alone.
Like Paul, then, let us all recognize both of these truths, that we are nothing but sin away from Jesus and but holy saints when united to Jesus. We all, like Paul, can then say, “As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Galatians 6:14).
Holiness expressed through humility – this is the mark of a true saint.
(Supporting verses: Psalm 44:3, Psalm 21:3, Acts 17:25, Psalm 109:27, 1 Corinthians 4:7, 1 Chronicles 29:14, 1 Peter 4:10-11, Isaiah 10:15)