Thursday, November 25, 2010

Are Christians Sinners? (First Post)

Most people define the word "sinner" as to mean "one who sins." So if you have commited a sin, then you're a sinner. Christians sin, therefore Christians are sinners.

However, in the Bible Christians are never called as such. In fact, the Holy Scripture consistently identifies the redeemed as saints, not sinners. See for example Paul's introductory statement in his 1st epistle to the Corinthians:
"Paul, [a] called apostle of Jesus Christ, by God's will, and Sosthenes the brother, to the assembly of God which is in Corinth, to [those] sanctified in Christ Jesus, called saints, with all that in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both theirs and ours..." (1 Cor. 1:1-2, Darby)
    It is interesting to note that Paul's primary purpose for writing this epistle was to rebuke the Christians in Corinth with regards to the negative reports he has been receiving concerning their spiritual/moral and ecclesiastical condition, and to exhort them to live God's love as they ought as God's children. In other words, First Corinthians reveals many of the problems that the Corinthian church faced. In fact, there is a problem in almost every chapter of the book!

    1. The Problem of Divisions in the Church (1 Cor. 1:10-13)
    2. The Problem of Worldly Wisdom (1 Cor. 1:17-2:16)
    3. The Problem of Carnality (1 Cor. 3:1-4)
    4. The Problem of Immorality in the Church (1 Cor. 5:1-13)
    5. The Problem of Bringing a Fellow Believer to Court (1 Cor. 6:1-8)
    6. The Problem of Fornication (1 Cor. 6:15-20)
    7. The Problem of Marriage and Divorce (1 Cor. 7:1-40)
    8. The Problem of Meats Offered to Idols (1 Cor. 8:1-13)
    9. The Problem of the Role Men and Women Should Have in Christ's Church (1 Cor. 11:1-17)
    10. The Problem of Abusing the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 11:20-34)
    11. The Problem of Spiritual Gifts (1 Cor. 12:1-31)
    12. The Problem of a Lack of Love (1 Cor. 13:1-13)
    13. The Problem of Speaking in Tongues (1 Cor. 14:1-40)
    14. The Problem of Wrong Teaching About the Resurrection of the Dead (1 Cor. 15:1-58)
    15. The Problem of Collecting for the Saints (1 Cor. 16:1-3)

    The Corinthian church was plagued with problems! In Tagalog, pasaway talaga itong mga taong 'to! But you see, despite their being pasaway, Paul still called them saints!

    Another instance of Christians not being identified as "sinners" is explicitly found in Romans 5:8. Paul wrote,
    "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Rom. 5:8, KJV)
      Note that the past tense is used – while we were yet sinners – which implies a change of status.  While we “were” yet sinners is a prior status of being sinners, different from what the recipients of the letter were as Paul wrote them.  Who, then, were the recipients of the letter? How did the author describe them? Paul wrote:
      " all that are in Rome, beloved of God, called saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and [our] Lord Jesus Christ." (Rom. 1:7, Darby)
        Clearly, Paul was referring to saints, not sinners!

        It is also an interesting fact that in the New Testament the word "sinner/s" is used 41 times, but none refer to people who are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ our Lord.

        You might ask: how then can Christians be called saints if they still commit sins even after being saved? (1 Jn. 1:8). In what sense does the Bible call them saints? and in what sense aren't they called sinners? According to Paul:
        "But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works..." (Rom. 4:5-6, KJV)
          There you go. It is with regard to our judicial standing before God that the Bible calls us saints. Since Christ already fulfilled the law perfectly on our behalf and died on the cross for our sins so that He may "present us holy in God's sight, without blemish, and free from accusation" (cf. Col. 1:22 / Rom. 3:24-25, 5:19 & Gal. 4:4-5; ), we are not seen by God as sinners. When God looks upon us, He sees not our uncleanliness but His Son's righteousness in virtue of our union with Him through faith.

          Our sainthood doesn't pertain to our actual way of living, but to our judicial standing before God "who justifieth the ungodly" through faith. We are already sinless positionally, but not yet in practice, or in other words: Righteous... But Not Yet

          Another reason why we are not called sinners anywhere in the Bible is that we are already free from the power of Sin and, by the grace of God, we do not and we cannot deliberately go back to our old sinful lifestyle:
          "What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?" (Rom. 6:1-2, NIV) 
          "We know that God’s children do not make a practice of sinning, for God’s Son holds them securely, and the evil one cannot touch them." (1 Jn. 5:18, NLT)
          Christians may fall into different temptations at varying degrees, but "God’s Son holds them securely." They are a new creature in Christ, and the Holy Spirit grieves in their heart whenever they transgress the law of God. It is not the believer's lifestyle to continue living in Sin, but to grow in love and holiness, being sanctified by the Spirit.

          Now we turn once more to the original question of this article: Are Christians sinners?

          The answer should depend on how the word "sinner" is defined. Technically if we follow the common definition of the word sinner as "anyone who commits sins," in this sense we can say that Christians are still sinners. Biblically speaking, however, Christians are no longer sinners but saints—in so far as they are already justified before God, and that they are no longer under Sin's dominion. In the Bible, the term "sinner" is applied only to unbelievers, not to God's children.



          1. Hi,

            You're correct Christians are not sinners.

            1Peter 4:18 "If the righteous scarcely be saved, Where shall the ungodly and sinner appear?"

            Here God tells us that there are 2 different groups of people.
            Group 1: Righteous
            Group 2: Ungodly, Sinner.
            Clearly you are either righteous or a sinner. You can't be both.

            But we should use God's definitions of sin to understand scripture. Man's definitions are ambiguous causing misunderstanding of scripture.

            God's definitions of sin are basically covered by the following examples:
            Mark3:29 Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Christians do not commit this sin.
            John16:9 Unbelief in Jesus. Christians do not sin here. 1John5:17 “all unrighteousness is sin”. Christians are righteous through Christ so here we don't sin.
            1John3:4 “Sin is transgression of the law” . This is breaking the 10 commandments which results in a death penalty. Christians do not sin here as we are not under the law of sin and death. Christ SETS FREE from it Rom 8:2

            Regarding the law of sin and death it should be noted that “whatever the law says it says to those who are UNDER IT” Romans3:19,20.
            Also “the law was NOT MADE for a righteous person (Christians), but for....the ungodly and for sinners” 1Tim1:9

            As Christians, our "old man has been crucified" with Christ (Rom 6:6) and it is" no longer I that lives but Christ lives in me" (Gal 2:20). We are NOT UNDER the law, and “where there is NO LAW there is NO TRANSGRESSION (SIN)” (Rom 4:15).

            1John3:9 confirms this.“Whoever has been born of God DOES NOT SIN, for His seed remains in him; and he CANNOT sin”

            Of course we still see Christians doing wrong (erroneously called sin by man's ambiguous definitions), but as sons of God we are disciplined for our wrong.

            Jesus truly set us FREE from sin, John8:36

          2. Hi Harold,

            First I wanna say welcome to my blog, and thank you for dropping a comment. You said:

            [Of course we still see Christians doing wrong (erroneously called sin by man's ambiguous definitions), but as sons of God we are disciplined for our wrong.]

            Are you saying that when Christians do "wrong", they are not "sinning"? Please clarify this for me.


            1. Hi Jeph,

              Sorry for the late reply.

              Yes, Christians cannot be charged with sin, even though our physical behavior is not perfect.

              We cannot be charged with the sin of transgression of the law (1john 3:4) as we're not under the law (Rom 8:2, Rom 10:4, Gal 3:25, Gal 5:18, 1tim 1:9).

              We cannot be charged with the sin of unrighteousness (1John 5:17) as our faith is counted for righteousness (Rom 4:5).

              Christians abide in Christ, and in him there is no sin, 1John 3;5.

              Rom 8:33
              Who shall lay ANY THING to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth.




          Commenting Rules:

          1. No trolling or baiting; submit relevant responses to appropriate blog-posts.
          2. No name calling, bashing, flaming or posting of any ad hominems or personal attacks or insults of any kind
          3. No spamming, advertising or soliciting.
          4. No littering in the comment-box (multi-posting or cross-posting).
          5. No blasphemous post and no links to occultic and cultic materials and immoral sites.
          6. No negative one-liners.
          7. No impersonating
          8. No heckling; harrassments
          9. No posting in all caps; no posting in all bold letters
          10. If you're posting Anonymously, please provide a name so you can be addressed properly.

          *All mature, sensible, and honest comments are welcome and encouraged. Comments will be filtered by the blog-owner before granting them to be published.