Can Christians Be Called “Sinners”?
by Jack Cottrell (Notes) on Thursday, October 15, 2009 at 7:37pm
THIS IS A RECENT REQUEST (edited): “Someone asked me if it is OK to call a Christian a sinner. The one who asked seemed to think it is not. He reasons that the Bible refers to Christians as Overwhelming Conquerors, Saints, those who have the Righteousness of God in Christ, etc. So how can it be OK for a Christian to be called a Sinner and a Saint at the same time? Is this not a contradiction?”
MY REPLY: This is simply a matter of semantics. It depends on how one is defining the word “sinner,” and what it is being used in contrast with. If one decides to reserve the word “sinner” for those who are in the unsaved state, in contrast with saints, that’s OK with me. But he cannot insist this is the ONLY valid use of the term. Unless one believes that all saved people are perfectly holy and never commit sins after conversion, it is hardly possible to claim they are not sinners. If we sin, we are sinners (cf. Rom. 7:14-25). The contrast between saved and lost then becomes, we are FORGIVEN or JUSTIFIED sinners, while the lost are UNFORGIVEN sinners. One might consider Rom. 3:23, which says that all have sinned and “fall short of the glory of God” (present tense). The present tense suggests that the “falling short” is a present condition, not just a past state. Also, remember that the very definition of justification is that it means we are DECLARED righteous, not MADE righteous. For the rest of our lives on earth there will be a difference between how God looks at us through the blood of Jesus Christ, i.e., as righteous; and how we actually are, namely, in the process of becoming more and more holy but still falling short.