I know I’m going to make a lot of folks mad by saying this, but I don’t ever call Christians, sinners, even though many refer to themselves as such. This is not the same thing as saying we don’t sin because everyone does. Christians battle against this sin nature everyday because we live in a fallen world; we are not perfect. We still have the propensity to sin in thoughts, words and deeds, and it continues until we are called home to heaven. But should we Christians label ourselves, sinners? Where does the Bible say we are?
The apostle John wrote: “Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him…He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.” (1 John 3:6, 8)
Although John was speaking to Jews, this also applies to Christians. Here he explains that one cannot be righteous and a sinner at the same time. A sinner is a heathen. One who has never come to faith in Christ. They are unregenerate, as opposed to being spiritually born again. The unregenerate is still in their sins. They have not received forgiveness or cleansing from God. The blood sacrifice of Christ does nothing for them because of their unbelief.
The apostle Paul tells us in Romans 5:6-8 that “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” He died for the ungodly. Paul equates the ungodly with sinners. Christians are never characterized as ungodly. Note the past tense: while we were still sinners.
In the New Testament, there are 28 uses of the word sinners and 13 of the word sinner. None refer to people who have come to saving faith in Christ. Jesus said it is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. He had not come to call the righteous, but sinners .
The apostle Paul often referred to believers as saints. A sinner is always an unbeliever, an unredeemed person. Nowhere in Scriptures is a a person who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ ever referred to as a sinner. God has forgiven the sins of the believer. He also regenerates them through the power of His Spirit. They are saints indwelled by the very Spirit of God. (Philemon1:5, Phil 1:1, Eph 1:1, Romans 1:7)
While we were yet sinners God saved us, but that does not mean we are to stay in the state of sin. If we are living according to the revelation of the grace of God, our hearts should be focused on a right standing with God. When we do sin, we confess it. We repent. It’s covered under the blood of Christ. He paid for it. There is no stain. God promised to forgive and He no longer remembers it. Ephesians 2:6 tells us that God has raised up believers and seated them in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. No sinner, nothing unclean, can ever enter heaven.