“Christians are not perfect, just forgiven.” I’ve seen this bumper sticker hundreds of times. If you see it, please rip it off. This is not the message we want to be sending. Christians are not just forgiven. We’re forgiven and born to a radically new kind of life! We are much much more than “just forgiven.”
What kind of fight is the Christian life? It is a winning fight. A victorious fight. A conquering fight.
God has given us His Spirit, and because His Spirit resides in us, we will see fruit in our lives. We will advance. We will make headway. We will progress. Fruit naturally grows on trees. It is the nature of an apple tree to produce apples. It is the nature of a believer in whom God’s Spirit dwells to produce fruit. Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Faithfulness. Gentleness. Self-Control. Fruit.
Why is it important to remember this? Because one of the greatest obstacles to growth is unbelief in the possibility of growth. We ought to see ourselves as people who will make genuine progress in our lives, so that in five years the sin that I used to battle with everyday is no longer a significant temptation. The addiction I felt is no longer enslaving me. The sinful attitudes I struggled with have been replaced with good fruit. The fight is a winning fight.
So Christians are not sinners who happen to be forgiven. Christians are forgiven, redeemed, Spirit-indwelt, new creation saints who happen to struggle with sin. Let me say that again! We are not sinners who happen to be forgiven. We are saints who happen to sin. Our primary identity–the core of who we are–has been radically changed. We are new creations (2 Cor 5:17)! This perspective on our identity and on the Christian life in general is a main staple of Pauline theology. The Christian life is a fight, to be sure (see my previous post), but it is a winning fight.