As Christians we often identify ourselves as sinners. We say things such as “We are all sinners”. Or, “I am a sinner just like anyone else”. Why?
The word sinner is often used in two ways. It frequently refers to someone who lives in sin. That is, the person who continually sins and has no desire stop. It is also applied to the individual who has committed a major moral offense. This is often a onetime event. When we think of ourselves as sinners, we tend to put ourselves in one or both of those two categories.
Though we may refer to ourselves as sinners, that is not how the Bible refers to followers of Jesus. The Bible uses a different word for those who give their lives to God. It calls us Saints (Phil 1:1).
Now, we admit that Paul identified himself with sinners when in his first letter to Timothy he said, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost” (1Tim 1:15, ESV). But he went beyond that identification. Paul continued, “but I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in Him for eternal life” (1Tim 1:6). Paul was saying that his life was held up as an example of the mercy and patience of God as well as what the love of God can do in the life of a sinner. Paul was a new man, not a sinner, and a saint by the grace and mercy of God. Incidentally, there is no other verse in the Bible where a faithful follower of God is called sinner. The forgiveness of God reforms the heart, and everything is made new from the inside out.
That is why Paul’s letters often began with the phrase, “to the saints” in whatever city he was writing to. Paul addressed those who were born again as saints. If we are born-again Christians, baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, we should rightly refer to ourselves as saints. This new identity that Christ gives us, allow us to gain the strength and fight against the sin that is within us. We ought not identify ourselves with that which we desire to depart from. The way we phrase things, will affect the way we see ourselves. In the same way, if we continue identifying ourselves with sin, calling ourselves sinners, how can we overcome it? Instead, we should identify with the identity God gave us as sons and daughters of the Holy one. The more we identify with the holiness of God is the more we will act as the holy people that we really are. This is not because of our own merits, but because Jesus covered us and cleansed us with His blood.
So, the next time we feel insufficient to overcome sin, and feel worthless in the sight of God, remember the new identity God has given us and say, I am holy in Jesus’ name. And, because I am holy, I will not fall into sin. This is how we tap into a power that is not ours but His. We know that change takes time. But, we can also notice when change is in process. It is not when we stop sinning that we start to be called saints, but by the mercy of Jesus when we start believing in Him. So, be glad, because today you are not called sinner, but rather sons and daughters of God through Christ Jesus.