There is a meme circulating on Facebook right now regarding the “Disney Princess Theology.”
It refers to “White Christianity.” It accuses “White Christians” of having a “bad case of Disney Princess Theology.” The accusation is that when these “White Christians” read their Bibles, they always see themselves in the heroes of the story and never in the protagonists.
I’m not going to pretend that there are not some out there that in fact read their Bibles in a self-serving manner. There are many who have twisted the scriptures and used the Bible to justify all manners of hatred and evil.
The problem though with this post is that it totally discounts the Gospel. No one is supposed to remain “Saul” after seeing the light. They are to become a new creation. All the old is supposed to pass away. God even went so far as to change “Saul’s” name to “Paul.” Why? Because God wanted to clearly identify the complete work the Gospel had done in his life. The old Saul was crucified and buried with Christ. The new Paul was resurrected with the same Spirit and Power that raised Christ from the dead. He was no longer the protagonist in the story. He had become the hero. And not a hero in a self-serving sort of way. We learn that Paul is so transformed by the cross that he willingly gives up his own right and ultimately his life for a message that was once his life’s work to destroy.
The Gospel never intends for a child of God to stay a Haman or a Judas. Yes, before the cross we all played that role. We all were unrighteous before a holy God. All were born into sin. All had fallen short of God’s glorious standard of perfection. But the story doesn’t end there. Even Paul’s letter to the Romans doesn’t end there. Read Romans – the whole book as if it were one letter (as it was!) Don’t stop in Romans 7 and claim your identity as eternally frustrated – always failing to do what is right and perpetually falling into sin. Remember Romans 6! Remember Romans 8! And don’t gloss over the answer Paul gives at the end of Romans 7! Thank God! The answer is in Christ Jesus our Lord! He is the one who can save us from this wretched, miserable existence. And when He does, we can say with Paul, “there is therefore now NO CONDEMNATION!”
If you read the Bible and always see yourself in Haman and Judas, then do yourself a favor – come to the cross. The Good News is that Jesus offers you His life in exchange for the death of your old self. Haman, Judas, and Saul all die with Christ on the cross, and a brand new creation is resurrected to new life. This is the Good News! This is the great exchange! Christ took your punishment and offers you His reward.
Don’t let anyone despise you for this. After all, you can’t take credit for it. He did all the work. At the same time, do not allow anyone the opportunity to do injustice to the cross by guilting you into shame for the freedom that He purchased on your behalf with His own blood. It’s not a privilege that you earned. It’s a gift you receive. And to say that the gift was not enough to wash away ALL of your guilty stains was to say that His sacrifice was not enough. He’s worthy of so much more than our disdain and disrespect.
Sandra Hobbs · June 29, 2021 at 4:49 am
You make it sound like once someone is a Christian, they can never act in a selfish, racist, domineering, manipulative or otherwise sinful way. And that if there are enough Christians in a nation (how many is that?) that everything the nation/government does it right. Unfortunately, as I Christian, I know many times I have acted more like Haman, like Judas, like Egypt than I have like Esther, John or Israel. If I only read Scripture to confirm my own goodness, then I miss the point. The Word is meant to be a sword to divide joints from marrow, soul from spirit, and show me where I, too, need to repent, change my behaviour and make things right.
Admin · June 29, 2021 at 11:37 am
Hi Sandra – Welcome! I appreciate you taking the time to stop by and share your thoughts. Excuse the long reply, but this is a topic on which I have become passionate about.
I used to read my Bible always seeing myself as less than, never measuring up to the standard of perfection that I saw in Jesus. But then I started to realize that righteousness was not earned through obedience, but rather received through faith.
The fact that I retain the ability to sin after coming to Christ does not define me as a sinner no more than the fact that simply because I have the ability to murder does not define me as a murderer. Why does the church define “Christians” as poor sinners saved by grace and not as saints made holy and righteous through the blood of Jesus Christ?
Let us not mistake our capacity or ability to sin as our identity. Can a Christian sin and miss the mark? Absolutely! The question is do they have to? Are we damned to sin every day? Or is it possible for a follower of Christ to live for an entire day without sinning? Is it possible for Him to keep us from falling and present us faultless?
1 John explains things pretty well. I really appreciate the way the the NLT brings this to light within the context of the NKJV. What was John’s intent on writing the letter? What was he trying to convey to the followers of Christ?
1 John 2:1 – My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin.
The whole purpose John had in writing this letter was so that we would not sin. Is that even possible? That we would not sin? Doesn’t the Bible say that if we say we have no sin we are liars? Yes, it does say that, but let’s look at that in the context of John’s letter.
1 John 1:5 This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all.
Is there any darkness (ie sin) in God? No. (1 John 1:6)
Where are we after being born again? Are we not in the light? In Christ? (2 Cor. 5:17)
Does Christ not live in us? (Gal. 2:20)
If there is no darkness in God or in Christ, and we are in Him and He is in us, how can there be any darkness remaining still in us? If there remains a darkness in us, then logically wouldn’t that mean that there is a darkness in Him? After all, we are claiming we are in Him.
1 John 1: 6 So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth.
John confirms that this can’t be true. We cannot say we have fellowship with God and continue living in darkness. To say this is our current struggle is a lie. We aren’t practicing the truth. What truth?
7 But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.
The truth that we have been cleansed from all sin. If I come into your house and cleanse it and you of all your money, how much money would you have left? Wouldn’t you say you are broke? That once all of your money is taken away, you don’t have any money left? If the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin, how much sin then is to remain?
I hear the argument. But if we say we have no sin, we are liars! That’s in the Bible. Stay with me, I’m just about to get there, because it’s the very next verse.
1 John 1:8 If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth.
See, my claim just fell apart – right? Not exactly. Let’s jump back up a couple of verses to verse 6. Doesn’t that say that if we say we are in Him (in whom there is no darkness) and at the same time we continue to have darkness in us we are liars.
So which is it? Are we lying if we say we don’t have any sin? Or are we lying to say that we will continue to live in darkness and continue to sin in this mortal body while being in fellowship with Him? It can’t be both. We can’t be lying if we say either, because aren’t these contradictory statements? Doesn’t one of them have to be true? We’re either lying if we say we don’t have sin or we’re lying if we say we do.
Let’s hop back up again from verse 8 to verse 7. Verse 7 states that the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin and immediately proceeds to verse 8. Take the verse numbers out and lets read it this way.
“If you want to live in the light, it is necessary for the blood of Jesus to cleanse you from all of your sin. It’s impossible to live in the light (in Him) and retain your sin because that would mean that there is also darkness in Him. Therefore, in order to have fellowship with the light it is first necessary for you to be completely cleansed from your sin and darkness. The only thing that makes this possible is the blood of Jesus. Only Jesus’s blood can completely take away your sin. You might say, I don’t need the blood of Jesus to take away your sin, because you don’t believe you’re really that bad of a person. You may think you don’t have any sin that needs to be cleansed by the blood. This kind of thinking is deceived, because everyone has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Everyone has need for the blood to cleanse them from their sin. The fact that you say you don’t have any sin that needs cleansing proves you do because you just lied! But if you’ll admit the truth that you have sinned (pay attention to the past tense here), then God will forgive you. The blood of His son will atone for and cleanse your sin.”
1 John 1:9 But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.
Again, how much wickedness has He cleansed us from? All wickedness. And if He has cleansed us from all wickedness, how much wickedness do we retain? None. This wonderful cleansing in no way takes away our ability to sin. Sure, we can still sin. We have the ability to do so. But our nature has changed. We’ve now become partakers of God’s divine nature. And just as we were born of the sin nature and therefore were damned to bear the fruit of sin, so now are we born again of the divine nature and therefore are blessed to bear the fruit of righteousness. Every seed bears fruit after its own kind.
1 John 1:10 If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.
Pay attention again to verb tenses and think Romans 3:23. John has not said, “If we claim we have no sin . . . ” He says, “If we claim we have not sinned . . . ” If that’s our claim from the beginning, then we are claiming that we don’t need Jesus. We don’t need His blood to cleanse us from our sin because we would be perfect. And if we are perfect then we just proved God to be a liar, which is impossible because of the nature of who He is.
1 John 2:1 My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous.
Notice the word choice here. “IF.” “But if anyone does sin . . .” He doesn’t say “when,” he says “if.” Remember why John is writing you this letter – “So that you will not sin.” But if you do, don’t be discouraged. John uses the word if because the whole purpose of the letter he’s writing is to prove to you that you don’t have to sin, and in fact you shouldn’t continue to sin after coming to Christ.
I encourage you to read the whole book as one letter later, but for now I want to skip ahead a bit to chapter 3.
1 John 3:4 Everyone who sins is breaking God’s law, for all sin is contrary to the law of God. 5 And you know that Jesus came to take away our sins, and there is no sin in him. 6 Anyone who continues to live in him will not sin. But anyone who keeps on sinning does not know him or understand who he is.
John again here is saying that if we continue to live in Him (in the light) “WE WILL NOT SIN.” And if anyone continues to sin does not understand who Jesus is or what He came for, because He came to set you free from the law of sin and death.
If you don’t understand that your old man (the one born of the sin nature) died with Christ, and that you were born again just like He was raised from the dead with the same Spirit. . . If you believe that while Jesus continues to overlook and forgive your sin because you prayed a prayer once, but that you are doomed to sin everyday . . . Then yeah, you will probably continue to struggle with sin and read your Bible and see yourselves in all of the unredeemed characters because those characters give you comfort.
But John is saying that you missed the whole point of the Gospel if you live this way. You don’t really know Him because you don’t really understand who He is. Because if you did, you wouldn’t continue to sin.
John makes it very black and white. Anyone who continues to abide in Him, to live in him WILL NOT SIN. If you believe otherwise maybe someone deceived you.
1 John 3:7 Dear children, don’t let anyone deceive you about this: When people do what is right, it shows that they are righteous, even as Christ is righteous. 8 But when people keep on sinning, it shows that they belong to the devil, who has been sinning since the beginning. But the Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil. 9 Those who have been born into God’s family do not make a practice of sinning, because God’s life[a] is in them. So they can’t keep on sinning, because they are children of God. 10 So now we can tell who are children of God and who are children of the devil. Anyone who does not live righteously and does not love other believers[b] does not belong to God.
I’m not saying we lose our ability to sin. We absolutely retain the ability. I’m not even saying that I won’t mess up or fall into sin. But I am saying that I won’t sin if I remain in Him. If I do that, it will be impossible for me to sin because it’s no longer in my nature to do so. I still have the choice to sin, but if I do make that choice – that’s exactly what it is – a choice. I am no longer under any obligation to obey sin (See Romans – especially 6 & 7). My heart is not damned to sin any longer, because He has given me a new heart.
Does the Spirit still correct and convict me? Yes. Often. But let me focus my attention on His ability to cleanse and keep me rather than my ability to miss the mark. I don’t see myself as a murderer. I don’t live my life trying to convince anyone and everyone that I haven’t murdered just because I have the ability to. Why do we as Christians define ourselves by our ability to sin and not by His ability to cleanse and keep us?
If all my good works are as filthy rags before Him, then how will I ever be seen by him as righteous? It is by faith alone. Faith in the finished work of Christ. That faith allows His blood to cleanse me of all unrighteousness, makes me one Spirit with Him, and empowers me with grace to live a godly life.
Don’t read to confirm your own goodness. Read to confirm His goodness. Read about Haman, Judas, Egypt in light of what He went through on the cross to make you like Him. The finished work of Christ puts you in a better position than Esther, John (the Baptist), and Israel, because they didn’t have the Spirit of God in them. They were under the old covenant. We have a new and better covenant than they had. We’ve been made one with Him. The one who is light and in whom there is no darkness.
The difference between humility and pride is the source of our perfection.
1 John 4:17 And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.
Admin · June 29, 2021 at 12:31 pm
“And that if there are enough Christians in a nation (how many is that?) that everything the nation/government does it right.”
This is an interesting comment. I’m not sure how you got that idea from the article. Maybe you’ve read other things I have written, because the topic is not completely foreign to my views.
However, I believe that as believers our government/nation is the kingdom of God. I don’t believe it is any nation state. We may live in the appearance of being American, Mexican, British, etc, but that is not our true identity. Our identity is as ambassadors from the kingdom of God. We are simply strangers in a strange land. We cannot serve two masters. We can either advance the kingdom of God or the USA – not both. And those two governments are not one in the same.
So to your statement, I believe that Christians – especially in the United States have been greatly deceived on many levels.
One, we’ve been deceived into thinking that the United States is God’s chosen government on earth and that it is somehow a “Christian government.” It is neither. While it may be superior to other forms of government, it does not have carte blanche nor carry God’s stamp of approval.
Two, we’ve been deceived into believing that having the right people in office is somehow going to save the nation. That if we can just pass a law making abortion legal that we’ve accomplished some great thing. We’ve been deceived into believing that voting is a virtue and that not voting is a sin. We’ve been deceived into believing that prayer is to be directed toward Washington, DC while neglecting our neighbors in our own town.
I don’t believe that we can change the course of this nation by electing the right people into office. I believe that even with the right people in office, the nation could still be headed in the wrong direction. The church has been preoccupied with politics and has completely ignored the great commission.
We think change happens from the top down, when in reality it happens at the bottom. If the church would take the commission of Christ seriously and begin sharing the Good News with people in their own cities and towns, there would be a ground-swell of change and transformation take place across this nation that I believe would be reflected at the top.
This will never happen, because we’re so focused on the evils at the top that our only course of action is to complain. We fail to realize that if the church was to reach out to young women before and after unwanted pregnancies, we could eliminate abortion one by one. It wouldn’t matter to those who are being saved and filled with the love and compassion of God what the law allowed or disallowed. Life would be valued and celebrated.
So to your comment – yes and no. Yes, I believe that a nation could be changed with the church making enough disciples (not just saying a sinner’s prayer, but real disciples). But no, that will not make everything a nation or government does right.
Admin · June 29, 2021 at 12:52 pm
“The Word is meant to be a sword to divide joints from marrow, soul from spirit, and show me where I, too, need to repent, change my behaviour and make things right.”
I love this verse, but must admit that I’ve not always understood what it meant. In my youth I would just get excited about the sword part.
However, now something stands out to me. The part about the word of God (which isn’t a book BTW – it’s Jesus) dividing between soul and spirit.
Spirit is truth. Soul is feelings and emotions.
As sinners before being born again we were driven by our souls. If it feels good or feels right – do it. Proverbs has some insight on this – “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.”
If you make me mad, I’ll feel better if I yell, scream, punch . . . The list goes on. The way seems or feels right to unbelievers. But when we are born again we become justified and righteous. It is at this point that we live by faith. No longer trusting in what we feel or see, but by faith.
In fact, many times, the only time we have the opportunity to live by faith is when our feelings are in conflict with the truth. The Bible goes to great lengths to convey what a child of God is like. He is a partaker of the divine nature of God. He bears the fruit of the spirit naturally because of the seed in him which has enabled him to become born again.
Let’s just look at one of those fruits. Patience. How many times do I sell myself short and have a full-blown identity crisis because I don’t feel patient? After all, God wants me to be patient. I know this. I read it in my Bible. So what do I do when I don’t feel patient?
I live by faith. I submit myself to the Spirit of Truth that says that I am patient and the devil flees from me. “Ok God, thank you for making me patient. I don’t feel patient right now, but I submit to what you said. You said I was patient and kind. Thank you that you don’t define me by my feelings – by my soul, but rather by the truth, and the truth is that you’ve made me one Spirit with you. Thank you for this opportunity to remind me who I really am. I am patient. I submit myself to you and to your truth.”
When we do this, the enemy loses a foothold in our lives. He’s been counting on us to go into 3 days of depression and try to work ourselves back into the holiness we once held before we felt impatient.
Yes, the Spirit of God shows us our weaknesses and shortcomings. Not so we work harder to control them, but so that we will submit to His will and truth about who we are.
It is the truth that sets us free.
If the truth that I know and believe says that I’m just a sinner saved by grace who will inevitably sin everyday, then I wonder if that’s the only experience of freedom I’ll ever enjoy. God should understand my weakness, because He made me this way.
Does that look like freedom to you? Wasn’t the truth supposed to set us free? So if the truth that we’ve been taught keeps us bound in our sin, is it really truth?
If it’s the truth that sets us free, then what keeps us in bondage (to sin)? Wouldn’t it be a lie?
What if the truth I believed was that the blood of Jesus was enough to cleanse me from all my sin . . .That all the old passed away . . . That everything has been made new . . . That I have fellowship with Him, so there is no longer any darkness in me . . . That if I remain in Him, I will not sin . . .That I am now a partaker of His divine nature . . . That just as it was natural and easy for me to sin as a sinner, it is now just as natural and easy for me to produce good (righteous) fruit now that I am a saint . . .
The list could go on.
What if that was the truth that I believed? Would that eliminate my ability or capacity to sin? No. But could it preoccupy my mind enough that sin is no longer my focus. Neither in trying to avoid it nor in the condemnation I felt from doing it. What if my focus was on His wonderful ability to cleanse me if I ever do sin? What if my focus was on producing good fruit instead of avoiding bad fruit?
What if the Word of God actually helped me divide between the truth and my feelings?