In Colossians 1:2 Paul greets the church at Colossea with the greeting, “saints and faithful brothers in Christ.”
This simple greeting helps us understand the tension between our position and ourÂ practice. Â Or what some grammarians/exegetesÂ like to call the indicative (present) and the imperative (command) aspects of the Christian life.
On the one hand, Paul’s address of the Colossians as “saints” reminds andÂ reinforcesÂ the truth that those who are “in Christ”–through theÂ transferenceÂ of their faith from themselves and their abilities to care for this life and the next–are now considered unique, distinct,Â set apart to God and for God. Â This is our position.
On the other hand, Paul’s subtle address of the Colossians as “faith brothers” reminds and reinforces the truth that those who are “in Christ” must continue to believe and be faithful–loyal, trustworthy followers.
This tension of our position and practice is what we call the theology of the imperfect. Â The reality that though in Christ we are new creatures (2 Corinthians 5:17) yet we must daily surrender to become transformed/conformed into the image of Christ.
So, we must understand that we are “sinners saved by grace.”
I am not what I ought to be –
ah, how imperfect and deficient!
I am not what I wish to be –
I abhor what is evil, and I would cleave to what is good!
I am not what I hope to be –
soon, soon shall I put off mortality, and with mortality all sin and imperfection.
Yet, though I am not what I ought to be,
nor what I wish to be,
nor what I hope to be,
I can truly say, I am not what I once was;
a slave to sin and Satan;
and I can heartily join with the apostle, and acknowledge,
“By the grace of God I am what I am.”
– John Newton, as quoted inÂ The Christian Pioneer, (as posted by Trever Wax)
But, in contrast to the truth that we are also “sinners saved by grace” we must understand–believe and live from the stand point–that we are “saints who sometimes sin.” Â ThisÂ perspectiveÂ will empower our living. Â Are we simply sinners who can’t help but sin? No. Â We have been freed from sin (Romans 6:1-14) and sin is then a choice and not a requirement. Â Will we at times sin–yes and praise God for grace. Â But we should not settle for being defeated by sin–we should live in the victory that Jesus has already won on the Cross (Colossians 1:13-14; 2:6-7;Â 2:13-15). Â We must remember we are saints.
So, as those who are trusting in Christ as our only means of an eternal relationship with God–live like a saint. Â You are a saint, now live like it.