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Just a Sinner?

He was looking down in shame.  It had been less than 24 hours since my Christian brother slipped and turned to the bottle for some relief for his pain.  He lifted his chin and took a deep breath.  As a tear dripped from his eye, he struggled to get his words out, “I can’t explain it Trey, I’m just a poor sinner.  I keep screwing up.  Just when I think I have everything under control, my sinful nature takes over and I just fail.  I just can’t seem to get out of this cycle of failure when my sinful nature keeps taking over.”


I also spoke with a lady a few weeks ago who told me of her experience at a recent small group meeting where several of her sisters in Christ proclaimed their current sinful natures during testimonial time.  How many times have you heard from a pulpit what a sinner you are?  “I’m just a sinner saved by grace” is a key Christian calling card in churches across America today.  Sometimes we put the words “just a poor, lowly” in front of sinner in that sentence for a more dramatic effect.  This statement is one of my least favorite “Christianisms”.  (Not sure if that’s an actual word, but it sounds good.)


Now, please understand, SIN IS BAD. (I know where many of you are going in your thoughts right now) I'm not downplaying sin at all. It's just that these words used to come out of my mouth all the time.  For years I would justify my sins by proclaiming what a lowly sinner I was.  Even AFTER I had the revelation of Christ and was saved, I still used this expression of depravity.  I mean, it sounds so humble and respectful to say, right?.  It shows I know who I am and my place in being a servant to God, right?  The problem is, whenever I used to say those words . . . I usually ended up sinning the same type of sin again, and again.  Why?  Maybe I was focusing on my sin so much, that I didn't focus on Jesus and his grace to guide me away from my sin.  I finally learned that when I used those words after becoming a Christian, I wasn’t sharing who I truly am, my true identity as a forgiven, holy and justified son of God. After this revelation of identity . . . EVERYTHING CHANGED!


Now, every time I hear a Christian use this “I’m just a sinner” phrase, it shutters me like fingernails dragging down a chalk board.  Why do believers in Christ still say these words when THE WORD says something completely opposite? 


“Wait . . . What do you mean Trey?  We are all just sinners.  That’s what I’ve heard since I was a kid in church.  Where are you going with this?”  My answer to that is a question, “Is saying I’m just a poor lowly sinner, as a Christian, an accurate description of who I am?  Or am I stuck in the mind and heart set of who I used to be?"


“For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.”   – 2 Corinthians 5:21


If you look closely at Paul’s letters to the churches he planted, you see a common theme in his prayers and key thoughts.  He talks of transformation, a major change that happens in you, when you believe in the power of the blood and resurrection of Christ and accept his grace through faith.   Two unimaginable transformations are mentioned in the above passage.  1) Jesus became what he wasn’t so that 2) We could become what we weren’t.  We could become what God created us to actually be.  Whatever we were, Christ became.  Whatever Christ is, we now have become.  Think about this closely.  Through Christ, we have the righteousness of God.  Righteousness is our new nature . . . and our new nature wants us to walk out our salvation as God directs us through his Hoy Spirt.  YOU Christian brothers and sisters . . . Have been transformed . . . from Sinner to Saint . . . so how about we shout that out loud instead!!


“My old self (sinner/sinful nature) has been crucified with Christ.  It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” -Galatians 2:20 (with parenthesis by me for emphasis.)


Think about this.  Before the revelation of our heartfelt need and repentance to Jesus, we were born with a tendency or inclination for evil.  We were born in sin.  Depravity.  We were born sinners with a sinful nature given to us.  Not because of our actions, but because of the actions of a man, Adam, in the beginning, we inherited this nature.   Then the day you understood this and then  repented to Jesus and accepted his grace through your faith in his blood sacrifice and resurrection, you were transformed.  Yes . . . your sinful nature was hung on that cross.  You were transformed from sinner to a saint.  How can “Christ who lives in me” still be looked at as a sinner or someone with a sinful nature in God’s eyes?  How can you have Christ in you and still have a sinful nature?  Those two realities cannot exist together inside of you.  Christ completed God’s plan to make you one with Him. 

  • “You were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked . . .”- Ephesians 2:1

  • “. . . even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive In Christ . . . “- Ephesians 2:5

  • “ . . . and such were some of you.  But you were washed sanctified you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit f our God.”  - 1 Corinthians 6:11

  • “ . . . While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  - Romans 5:8

Do you find it interesting that a Christian is not referred to as a sinner in the present tense anywhere in the bible?  Sinners are who we USED to be . . . PAST TENSE!  The only place that you could try and argue that is when Paul calls himself the worst sinner of all in 1 Timothy 1.  But if you read the entire chapter, you can clearly see that he is referring to his previous life BEFORE his encounter with and revelation in Jesus.  He went from sinner to saint that day and went on to write two thirds of the New Testament trying to reinforce this truth with the churches he planted.  Yes, there was no doubt, Paul still had struggles, which he plead to God about in Romans 7 and 2 Corinthians 12, but he was already changed by grace through his faith in Jesus.  Paul clearly communicates the obvious biblical fact that he WAS a sinner saved by grace. You and I WERE sinners saved by grace. COME ON MAN!


If we, as Christians, can’t properly trumpet the truth of our complete salvation and the death of our “sinship” (according to my spell check that’s not a word either) or our sinful nature, once we repented to Jesus, then we aren’t communicating the gospel.  Way too many Christians today, either don’t understand the power of Jesus blood and resurrection to their life or they continue to believe the inaccuracy of teachings that they aren’t complete and full In Christ (Colossians 1).  My question, “If we aren’t full in Christ, as Paul so beautifully communicates, then why did Christ die?  If we are full In Christ, then how can there be room in us, for a sinful nature to co-exist?”  Hmmm . . .


So, brothers and sisters In Christ, let’s always trumpet WHO we truly are!  We are Christians

. . . SAINTS!  If we do happen to screw up we can rest that we have THE HOPE that Peter talks about.  We all know we sometimes may not have perfect actions, but we can celebrate the fact that HE, who lives in us, IS PERFECTION! 


Now . . .  I know you’re asking . . . “Ok Trey, what about our walk In Christ, after we understand our sinful nature has been crucified?  What am I responsible for now?  What action do I need to take?  I still need to do something, right?”  We will explore that walk next time.  Believe me, it's a really cool walk!

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