"But that's not what my church teaches," you object. "Aren't there lots of verses that affirm what terrible sinners we all are? Even my pastor confesses that he sins every day. We're all sinners."
These claims make my heart ache, because these beliefs are not in line with Scripture, and they diminish the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. There is not one single New Testament verse that says that God's children are sinners; quite the opposite, in fact. Just do a search for "sinner" on your favorite phone app or website, such as BibleGateway.com. The King James New Testament yields 42 results, not a single one of which comes even close to calling Christians "sinners." In fact, there are several that show, in no uncertain terms, that sin is incompatible with the born-again life.
When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.
I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.
Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth.
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
1 Timothy 1:9
Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers....
1 Peter 4:18
And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?
So what is a "sinner," then? Is it someone who sins multiple times a day and refuses to repent? Or is it someone who begs God for forgiveness whenever he accidentally steps on an ant or lets out an unkind word? Am I just splitting hairs here, picking on how people choose to define a word? We do not need to agree on a definition, but if we can at least agree that the Bible uses the word consistently from verse to verse, then an obvious pattern emerges.
It is clear from these scriptures that there is a measurable difference between the saved and the unsaved. The saved are called "righteous" and "just", while those who are not are "lawless", "ungodly", "profane", "murderers", and, yes, even "sinners". I have much more to say about this, particularly referring to the many other verses that affirm that Christians can indeed experience victory over sin, this side of Heaven, but it can wait for now.
In the next few posts, I will shed some light on scriptures that are often used to back up the false assertion that Christians are sinners, most prominently: Romans 7:14-25, 1 Timothy 1:15, and 1 John 1:6-10.