I'm A Christian, Not a Sinner!
Updated: Jan 16
In 1 Timothy 1:15, Paul described himself as the foremost among sinners. Paul was referencing the sins he had committed in the past, not his present manner of life. He recognized he had committed terrible offenses in the sight of God before his baptism into Christ (Acts 8:1-3; 9:17-20). Upon being baptized into Christ, his sins were washed away by the blood of Christ (Acts 22:16; Matt. 26:28). When Paul described Christian life, he did not characterize it as “sinful,” nor did he describe Christians simply as “sinners” as some do today. In Romans 6:2, he instead asked concerning Christian life, “How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” The question is rhetorical. Christians do not continue living in sin. Christians cannot be “sinners” perpetually.
Paul does not contradict John, who also wrote concerning Christians in 1 John 1:8, saying, “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.” John drew attention to the missteps of Christians as they serve God. Those missteps are considered unacceptable for the Christian’s life; they are to be confessed and repented to maintain our relationship with God.
In Romans 6, Paul presented the same point in a different framework. In Romans 6:13, Christians must not “go on presenting the members of [their bodies] to sin as instruments of unrighteousness.” Sin does not characterize Christian life, and God does not want Christians thinking of themselves as “sinners,” though they stumble in sin from time to time.
If you are in Christ, do not say, “I am a sinner.” Instead, say, “I have been forgiven!” “I am an instrument of God’s righteousness!” “I am walking in the light!” Glorify God for the work He does in you as you believe in Him (1 Thess. 2:13). If you are in Christ, you are dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus (Romans 6:11)!