A saint in God’s dominion and a sinner in the earthly dominion

As Christians, are we fully-redeemed saints of God, or are we still sinners?  As believers in Christ, while we live in this earthly dominion, we are also a part of God’s heavenly dominion.  In other words, we have one foot on earth and one foot in heaven.  Our citizenship is simultaneously in both our heavenly and earthly nations.

Paul speaks of “dominion” in Romans 6:14-15,

“14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

15 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!”

In v. 14, Paul seems to be implying a sense of authority rather than a sense of mastery or domination  (The definition of dominion might include: jurisdiction; territory of a sovereign/government; sovereign control; supremacy; domination; authority; command; power; etc.).

If he was implying mastery, he would not have asked the rhetorical question in v. 15  Paul was warning Christians to refrain from taking advantage of God’s grace by intentionally committing sins we know are wrong.  It implies that we as Christians have the potential to commit sins we already know are wrong.  We may be redeemed but we are not free to sin whenever we want (6:12, 15).

Within the church, there is a debate whether we are still sinners. Some would say we are no longer sinners but redeemed saints of God, and have the potential of moral perfection.  Others would say we are still sinners and cannot stop sinning even if we tried.

The body of Christ and our Christian leaders are far from moral perfection. It is only Christ who is totally righteous and it’s only through his sanctification that we are made righteous (Rom. 6:11, 4:24).  I believe Luther was right about humanity’s sin and God’s grace. The doctor of theology, Martin Luther, said we are simultaneously both saint and sinner.  He accepted both realities about man’s sin and redemption.  Humanity’s sin is utterly depraved while we are still in a state of being redeemed.  If we are in God’s dominion of grace, we can be assured that we have eternal life, and have been, and will be fully, set free from sin and death because God has promised this.

Our desire for significance

PrintTruly great people carry themselves with genuine humility through and through, and do not try to prove themselves to anyone.  We admire such people.  It is a godly trait and one that prideful people envy in humble people.  Pride is a temptation common to all human beings and is one of our bigger weaknesses. It’s traditionally known as one of the seven deadly sins.

St. Augustine said, “It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels.”  Finding true humility in people is hard to come by and is an impossibility for most of us.  Even within the church, we all have a desire for recognition (including all human beings).  We want to be associated with people or things greater than ourselves.  I admit, even clergy/pastors do it, e.g., we like to claim we baptized x number of people on baptism Sunday.

In 1 Corinthians 1:14-17, Paul had lambasted some of the Christians for bragging they were baptized by Paul himself (as if his act of baptizing made them more special).

I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name. (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. (1 Corinthians 1:14-17)

We try to associate ourselves with something greater than ourselves in order to alter how people perceive us.  Why do we do this?  As most human beings, at times, we feel insecure about ourselves or status.  We have an insatiable desire to be seen as more significant because we feel insignificant in comparison to others.  It comes from our sin of wanting to be God in God’s place.

Paul said he would rather have not baptized anyone except Crispus and Gaius–probably because they were the humble ones who did not brag about having been personally baptized by Paul. It sounds like Paul did not baptized many people, maybe for this very reason. He didn’t care to baptize more people.

Ideally, we ought to be satisfied with associating ourselves with God in Jesus Christ.  We can ask the Holy Spirit to help us forsake this deadly sin of pride.  God will help us all if we ask.