We tell unbelievers that we are sinners just like them, only difference is, we’ve met Jesus, accepted His gift of salvation, and been saved.
And let me just say, this is completely false.
That’s right. We are lying when we speak these words. We are not sinners. We are something quite different…
You see, somewhere along the way Christians got the idea in their minds that they need to refer to themselves as “sinners” and not saints. Yet, the Bible, more specifically, the New Testament, does not refer to followers of Christ as sinners in the present tense.
Sure, Paul mentions the sins many of his fellow brethren used to commit. He even reminds us that Christ died for us when we were still sinners. Catch that? Paul did not write that Christ died for us while we were still sinners, so that we could remain sinners.
In fact, almost all references to the word “sinner” in the New Testament refer to Jesus, dong things like eating with sinners and tax collectors, or forgiving sinners, or being called a sinner Himself by the Pharisees. (The book of James makes a reference to sinners, but is specifically addressing those who have walked away from the Lord and are practicing sin. Likewise, in 1 Timothy, Paul refers to himself as a sinner, in that he was once the foremost of all sinners–needing salvation that much more).
Jesus certainly never referred to a believer as a sinner. He would heal a person of their affliction, and then forgive them of their sin (or vice versa). So if Jesus Christ, who is the foundation of our faith never once called those who love Him “sinners” why do we?
In the Christian culture, it seems that calling oneself a “sinner” has become a disingenuous way of appearing to be humble or making yourself out to look just like everyone else. “Oh, you know…I’m just a sinner.” Ha, ha. Shake it off. See, I’m just like you. I sin too.
But we aren’t sinners. We are saints.
In fact, we are told in scripture that as a result of the Holy Spirit coming to live within us, we no longer need to sin. We are free from sin’s grip and yet we continue to speak as though we are helpless sinning creatures being throw to and fro by our fleshly desires.
However, the whole message of saint versus sinner is painfully confused. In the book of 1 John, for instance, Paul says, “If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” Yes, we get this scripture. We have all sinned. Period. But that is usually where we stop, but if you keep reading Paul says…
“My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” 1 John 2:1.
Paul tells us as clear as day, that we do not actually need to sin any more, but if we do, we have Jesus as our advocate. Think about that for one moment. Because of the Spirit in you, you need not sin ever again. If Jesus was sinless and we have the Spirit of the Living God residing in us, well then, we are perfectly capable of living a sinless life, as well.
Now, I’m not pretending or suggesting that I am some sinless perfect being, nor that every Christian should be. But the powerful point here, is that we can be. We can be sinless. Why?
Because we are not sinners. We are saints.
Perhaps Paul said it best when he wrote so succinctly this Truth: “But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not!”