Christians often refer to themselves as “sinners.” They do this in an effort to relate to the world and make the gospel an easier pill to swallow. They quote silly clichés like, “We’re not perfect, we’re just forgiven” or, “We’re all just a bunch of hypocrites!” Once I even heard a preacher say, “If you scratch the paint off every saint, you’ll find a sinner underneath.”
A Flawed Trend
This is a false humility that contradicts what the Bible teaches. But before we consider what the Bible says, let’s stop and think about what Christians are saying. What they are saying is: “I was a sinner, then Jesus saved me, and now I’m still a sinner.” How much sense does that make? If you are still a sinner after Jesus saves you, then He really hasn’t done anything for you.
What the Bible Says
The Bible says that once Jesus saves you, your relationship with sin changes. God doesn’t regard you as a sinner; rather, He regards you as a saint. The Greek word “saint” means “holy person.” To be holy means to be “clean,” “pure,” or “set apart.” We are set apart from sin because we have been cleansed and purified of our sins. Specifically, the Bible says that if you are a Christian:
- You are not condemned by sin. Paul declares that “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). God will no longer punish us for our sin or treat us as our sins deserve. We are no longer guilty in His sight because Jesus has paid the penalty for our sins and satisfied His wrath in our behalf.
- You are not controlled by sin. Paul also declares that “sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace” (Rom. 6:14). We are no longer obligated to obey our sinful desires and impulses. We have put our flesh to death and Jesus has broken sin’s power over us.
- You are not characterized by sin. Paul explains that “you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord” (Eph. 5:8). We are no longer defined or identified by our sin. We are new creatures with new natures living new lives. “You have taken off your old self with its practices and put on the new self” (Col. 3:9-10).
What It Means For Us
It is difficult to stop calling ourselves sinners because, let’s face it, we know how sinful we can be. But understand that capability does not determine identity. I can play catch but that doesn’t make me a baseball player. I can make breakfast but that doesn’t make me a cook. I can put a Band-Aid on my daughter’s boo-boos but that doesn’t make me a doctor. In the same way, I am still capable of committing sins but that doesn’t make me a sinner.
So if you are a Christian, stop calling yourself a sinner. You are not a sinner; you are a saint. Stop rejecting your God-given identity and refusing Jesus’ work on your behalf. The next time a preacher or fellow Christian calls you a sinner, tell them to speak for themselves because you know who you are in Christ.
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