So as you all know, I got married late last year. It was an awesome wedding (my personal favorite); held in my parents' front yard with a bluegrass band and handmade décor, it was just our style. Anyway, with the wondrousness of getting married also came the headache of changing my name.
Oh yeah, that's a little tid-bit of fun that no one really prepares you to handle. It starts with a trip to the social security office (which for most people is seamless; I however, forgot my SSN when I got my marriage license and had to sort a whole mess of problems, including my hubby being legally married to a man from IL... Ooops). Regardless, that's just the start. Then you have to get your driver's license changed and then all your bank documents, accounts, subscriptions, etc. After almost 9 months of being "Mrs. Whitaker" I am still finding accounts that I have not yet updated. It's a big deal.
I had a run-in with one of the banks due to them not wanting to use my new name to open an account because I was already on file with my old name. It was a source of frustration for me because I was thinking the whole time as they opened up a new account under my old name of "Carolyn Reams," "That's not me anymore, that person does not exist." I knew who I was and wanted to be seen as such. The things that called me according to my past did not reflect the person that I am today.
If you were wondering where this post was going, it's here: when we come to Christ, we are reborn as "New Creations." Scripture tells us that the old has passed away, behold all things have become new (2 Cor 5:17). When someone calls or treats us according to our old nature, we should not go along with it. God has revolutionized who we are. It is not like Jesus came in and gave us a make-over. That's too much like a divine cover-up. Instead, He changed the very make-up of who we are!!!! I really want that to get through.... He changed the very make-up of who we are!!!!
We are no longer sinners. Before you call me a heretic, I did NOT say that we don't sin any more BUT that we are not longer called according to our old nature (aka: "sinners"). We often look at Paul's discourse in Romans 7 as a stand-alone chapter (this is where he talks about how he doesn't do what he wants to do and does do what he doesn't want to do regarding sin). But it doesn't stop at chapter seven, and his argument didn't start there either.
Take a look with me. In chapter 6 he says: v7 "For the one who has died has been set free from sin. v10-11 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourself dead to sin... v18 &22 and having been set free from sin, have been made slaves of righteousness. These are just a few of the verses where Paul declares our freedom from our past way of life (if it is our past way of life, STOP speaking like you're still a sinner!!). A sinner by definition is someone who is still stuck in sin, if you're in Christ you've been freed from sin, so start living in your freedom.
Those verses I shared deal with what is before chapter 7, where Paul talks about his flesh. What comes after is often overlooked. Chapter 7 ends with Paul saying "Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the Law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin." THEN in chapter 8 he continue (the reader should understand that when Paul wrote, he did not use chapter breaks so his reader would not have confused this as a separated thought). He says: "There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.!"
Hallelujah! I'm not a "sinner" I am a slave to righteousness!!! There's a saying out there in the church that seems good on the surface, "I'm just a sinner saved by grace." It has the appearance of humility, but it neglects the POWER of Jesus that transformed you into a new creation. Sinners get saved by grace... and then they are not sinners anymore. That's the glory of our God!! He made beauty out of what was worthless, not by lowering His standards and accepting sinners into His kingdom but by loving sinners so much He transformed them into saints.
This issue of identity is heavy on my heart. For a long time I was a saved Christian but still lost. I didn't know who I was or who God made me to be. I hope to write more on this topic, as I learn more myself. It's a journey and it starts when God called us out of sin into sainthood.