C says, "What is wrong for God to see us as righteous because of Christ's act and to see us as sinners for what we really are?" Therein lies the crux of disagreement between C and me - What are we, really? Another facebook friend, the wise Lip Kee accurately summarized C's and my respective positions thus:
1. For Stanley, the term "Christian" and "sinner" are used to define the spiritual IDENTITY of a person.
A "Christian" is someone who believes in and accepts the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, saved from the prison called "sin", and born again as a child of the most high God. The IDENTITY of a believer, a saved person, a Christian, is that of "the righteousness of God in Christ" (Rom 5:21), even if he were to fail and fall, and commit sinful acts.
Does a Christian still have the flesh in him? Does sin in the flesh have an influence over the believer? Is it possible for a child of God to still commit sins? Yes, yes, and yes. But he remains forever a born again child of God. He cannot "un-born" himself from God's family.
In contrast, a "sinner" is an unbelieving, Christ-less, unsaved person who belongs to the tribe of the first Adam and has yet to be reborn into God's family. The IDENTITY of an unsaved person remains that of a "sinner", regardless of how saintly he behaves, and how many good works he has done.
Stanley believes that the real IDENTITY of a Christian is found in the last Adam, our Lord Jesus Christ, and not in the first Adam. As born-again children of God, our true IDENTITY is found in the Spirit (the supernatural), not in the flesh (the natural).
Since we are taught in the Bible to walk NOT by sight (i.e. to perceive and live naturally, to look to ourselves and depend on our self-efforts) but by faith (i.e. to perceive and live super-naturally, to look to Jesus and depend on His grace), we are to see our IDENTITY in Christ, in the Spirit, and not in our humanity, in the natural.
I believe it is in the above sense that Stanley asserts that a Christian (a child of God) can never become a sinner (a non child of God) and should therefore not be addressed as such.
2. For C, the term "sinner" simply describes a person based on his actions and deeds. The term "sinner" does not so much define the identity of a person as it DESCRIBES THE DEEDS performed by him.
Therefore, when a person, regardless of whether he is a believer or an unbeliever, commits a sinful deed, he is described as a sinner.
Here, we are NOT talking about the person's identiy. His identity as a beloved child of God remains intact - he is still fully forgiven, still completely accepted, still perfectly righteous IN CHRIST.
Nevertheless, when seen and described in his humanity, in the natural state (in contrast to the spiritual state which is IN CHRIST), this person is indeed someone who has done wrong and fallen short - a doer of sin, a sinner.
The question remains, "What are we, really?" A cow gives birth to a calf (ie. a little cow), a dog gives birth to a puppy (ie. a little dog), a cat gives birth to a kitten (ie. a little cat), a sheep ... well, you get the picture.
We often call a Christian as a born-again believer. Do you know why? Jesus tells us why in John 3:3-6 :
In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.a]">"
"How can a man be born when he is old?" Nicodemus asked. "Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born!"Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit."
In the natural, when we were born into this world, when we came out from our mothers' wombs, we were born of the flesh and thus identified as such, the natural man.
In the supernatural, when we are born again into the kingdom of God, we are born of the Spirit and thus we are now also spirit. What are we, really? We are spirit and thus identified as such, the spiritual man.
The natural man does not understand the things of God while the spiritual man is able to listen to the voice of God - "The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one." (1 Cor 2:14)
Does the spiritual man commit sins? Yes, he does. Does that make him a sinner? No, for that is not his identity anymore because a sinner is a citizen of the natural world, not the kingdom of God. The spiritual man's identity remains forever the "righteousness of God in Christ" (2 Cor 5:21).
Let me give an illustration:
A Singaporean has just emigrated to Australia. He renounced his Singaporean citizenship and became a citizen of Australia.
One day, this brand new Australian went shopping at a shopping mall and a few hours later, felt hungry and proceeded to a food court for dinner. The food court was crowded but he finally spied an empty seat, quickly rushed towards it and placed a packet of tissue paper on the table before joining a queue for fish and chips.
Let me ask you: does this typical Singaporean habit of reserving a seat with a packet of tissue paper make him a Singaporean again? No, he is still an Australian. This is his new identity and the Singaporean habits within him does not change his new identity at all. Of course, over a period of time, we can expect him to display less and less of those typical Singaporean habits but he is an Australian now.
Do you know what you are? You are the spiritual man (woman). Your identity is not based on your acts of good or bad; your identity is based on only ONE ACT, that one act of Christ - "Yes, Adam’s one sin brings condemnation for everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone." (Rom 5:18)