Sinner Or Saint?

“The most philosophical questions in life are the most practical. There is nothing like your honest perspective on ‘Who is God?’ and ‘Who am I?’ to color your day” (“Who are You Really?”, Andree Seu,, 1-18-2010). The Bible has a tendency to also keep things simple, since there are basically only two choices about who we are: saved or not; sinner or saint.

When I study the Bible, I find that there is no limbo in God’s mind. He loves or He hates (Isaiah 61:8, Amos 5:15). He creates or He destroys (Jeremiah 18:7ff). There is no middle ground. One cannot be more or less believing, or kind of saved, or sort of in grace. God’s religion forces us to make a decision and act, understanding that the consequences of either path we choose are clear (Matthew 7:13-14, Deuteronomy 30:19-20).

A Scriptural Starting Point to Self Identity

“That, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth”  (Ephesians 4:22-24).

Yet, am I not still a “sinner”?

In spite of the fact that they have been transformed by the saving grace of Jesus Christ, I still hear many Christians who candidly call themselves sinners. “I have spent years cultivating my self-image as a sinner. I thought it was both biblical and humble. A gentle friend brought other Scripture to my attention. He reminded me that I was a ‘new creation’ (2 Corinthians 5:17). I knew that already, but I told him I can still say I’m a sinner. My friend said that was confusing, and not particularly doing me any good. He said the Old Man, crucified with Christ when I was baptized into Christ’s death, would like me to think I am him” (Seu). It seems self-defeating to say things like, “Well, we are all just sinners, anyway”. The idea I find in the Bible is that I am a saint, and that I should be bold (Hebrews 10:35ff) and confident about the fact that I have been made holy and blameless before Christ (Ephesians 1:3-4). The Bible only describes Christians as sinners when they are habitually living unfaithfully (James 4:8).