Costume Jewelry or Tarnished Silver

How do we know “It’s In There!” – the raw ingredients for living the victorious Christian life?  We know because the Bible tells us so.  The Bible says:

  • You are holy and beloved. (Col 3:12)
  • The seed of God lives in you. (I Jn 3:9)
  • You have a new heart. (Ez 26:36)  Your old deceptively wicked heart has been removed.
  • Your new self is created in the likeness of God; in righteousness and holiness. (Eph 4:24)
  • When you look in the mirror, you see a representation of the glory of the Lord. (II Cor 3:18)
  • He who has died with Christ has ceased from sin. (I Pet 4:1)
  • The time for sin is in your past. (I Pet 4:3)
  • God’s divine power has granted to you everything pertaining to life and godliness. (II Pet 1:3)
  • You share the divine nature. (II Pet 1:4)
  • You have a moral resemblance to Christ. (I Jn 2:29)
  • You are a new creation. (II Cor 5:17)
  • Your old nature died with Christ (Rom 6:6)
  • Holiness is your new default mode.  (All of the above and more)

Add to this the fact that the apostles’ exhortation to ethical behavior is always based on our new identity (Eph 4:1); not a new list of qualities to strive for or an ABC formula for spiritual success, and it all adds up to a fundamentally positive description of believers.   At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I keep getting up on my New Covenant soapbox and celebrating all that became new when we accepted Christ because the “miserable-sinner Christianity” that runs through so many Protestant confessional formulas and catechisms is still alive and well in the twenty-first century church.  (See the recommended article by Robert Saucy, “Sinners” Who Are Forgiven or “Saints” Who Sin?)

I am reminded of the word picture Dwight Edward’s uses for this issue in his book, Revolution Within, and I quote.  “Costume jewelry is essentially worthless metal covered with an attractive coating.  So many believers see themselves in that way – sinners through and through, yet covered by the blood of Christ.  Tarnished silver is a much truer image of who we are after conversion.  While we are covered by the infinite righteousness of Christ, we are also new creations in Christ (silver) clothed in an earth suit that is sin-saturated (tarnished).  The new you isn’t a sinner but rather a saint who struggles with the tarnish of sin.”

Is this talk of costume jewelry and tarnished silver and forgiven sinners and sinning saints just theoretical and theological splitting of hairs?  On the contrary, I think it has tremendous implications for how we live.  Let’s see if we can flesh out some of the practical implications next time.