We’ve been discussing Tim Keller’s The Reason for God in our Christian Ed hour after church. The last two weeks we’ve explored the personal and communal evidences of the effects of sin.
The lad leading our discussion asked us how we think the folks around us view their own human nature. Do they view themselves as naturally good? Are they like John Locke and believe we are a blank slate, and neutral until outside influences move us to lean more toward good or evil? Or do they see themselves as naturally prone to evil (original sin)? Do they view themselves as sinners or as simply good people?
These are good questions to think through. If you don’t know how someone would answer, you probably don’t know them well enough to effectively contextualize the gospel. As I write this, I’m realizing how I really need to get to know folks more deeply. At an individual level, I definitely need to spend time asking better questions and listening more.
But on a general level, what I’ve seen people espouse about their relation to status before God is this: they believe themselves neither a sinner nor a saint. Instead it’s more of a hybrid. Kind of like a “sainter.” They’re not perfect, but neither are they bad enough to label themselves a sinner and need a bloody death on a cross to save them.
Unfortunately there is no hybrid third category of “sainter” and we all need the cross just as much as the one next door or next continent. But the good news of the gospel is that Christians are the same time sinners and saints (declared righteous before God). Either we are a sinner and saint, or we are simply a sinner. There is no “sainter.”