Should a believer in the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ call themselves a "sinner"?
I felt it was time to address this topic. Many topics elicit an emotional response when you disagree with someone that has been indoctrinated into a certain belief regardless of whether their belief is actually truth supported by scripture or not. I have witnessed believers often referring to themselves as a “sinner” or by the extended text of “sinner saved by grace”. Are these terms actually scripturally supported terms to refer to a believer in Jesus Christ?
You may wonder, “Why is it a big deal what believers call themselves or other believers?”, but if it is not important, then why would God have inspired the scripture writers to call His children specific words? Obviously God has a huge interest in the terms His children refer to themselves as. Just as you would care about what your kids call themselves, God cares deeply about what His children call themselves. If your children are constantly calling themselves or others “stupid”, “loser”, “idiot”, “useless”, and other words like that, you would have an active interest in guiding them to change their perspective of themselves and others. That is the catalyst for me writing this, to help believers change their perspective of themselves from a negative to a positive.
So let us begin and where better to start than with that word “sinner”. Did you ever wonder how many times the term “sinner” and “sinners” is used in the NT? I did. So, I researched it and I will list them all below. I will use the King James Version. This will include the usage before and after Jesus went to the cross for all of us.
Luke 7:37 KJV And, behold , a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster box of ointment,
Luke 7:39 KJV Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying , This man, if he were a prophet , would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner.
Luke 15:7 KJV 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.
Luke 15:10 KJV Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.
Luke 18:13 KJV And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying , God be merciful to me a sinner.
Luke 19:7 KJV And when they saw it, they all murmured , saying , That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner.
John 9:16 KJV Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day. Others said , How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them.
John 9:24 KJV Then again called they the man that was blind, and said unto him, Give God the praise: we know that this man is a sinner.
John 9:25 KJV He answered and said , Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know , that, whereas I was blind, now I see.
Romans 3:7 KJV For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his glory; why yet am I also judged as a sinner?
James 5:20 KJV Let him know , that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.
1 Peter 4:18 KJV And if the righteous scarcely be saved , where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear ?
Matthew 9:10 KJV And it came to pass , as Jesus sat at meat in the house , behold , many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples.
Matthew 9:11 KJV And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?
Matthew 9:13 KJV But go ye and learn what that meaneth , I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
Matthew 11:19 KJV The Son of man came eating and drinking , and they say , Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children.
Matthew 26:45 KJV Then cometh he to his disciples, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest : behold , the hour is at hand , and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.
Mark 2:15 KJV And it came to pass , that, as Jesus sat at meat in his house, many publicans and sinners sat also together with Jesus and his disciples: for there were many, and they followed him.
Mark 2:16 KJV And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners?
Mark 2:17 KJV 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.
Mark 14:41 KJV And he cometh the third time, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest : it is enough , the hour is come ; behold , the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.
Luke 5:30 KJV But their scribes and Pharisees murmured against his disciples, saying , Why do ye eat and drink with publicans and sinners?
Luke 5:32 KJV I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
Luke 6:32 KJV For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them.
Luke 6:33 KJV And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same.
Luke 6:34 KJV 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 .
Luke 7:34 KJV The Son of man is come eating and drinking ; and ye say , Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners!
Luke 13:2 KJV And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things?
Luke 13:4 KJV Or those eighteen , upon whom the tower in Siloam fell , and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem?
Luke 15:1 KJV Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him.
Luke 15:2 KJV And the Pharisees and scribes murmured , saying , This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.
John 9:31 KJV Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth.
Romans 5:8 KJV But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:19 KJV For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
Galatians 2:15 KJV We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles,
Galatians 2:17 KJV But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid .
1 Timothy 1:9 KJV 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 Timothy 1:15 KJV This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.
Hebrews 7:26 KJV For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens;
Hebrews 12:3 KJV For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.
James 4:8 KJV Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.
Jude 1:15 KJV To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed , and of all their hard [speeches] which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.
Each and every usage of the word “sinner” or “sinners” is used towards people before they come to a saving knowledge of Christ. You may be thinking “Hold on, you are missing one!”, but I’m not. Yes, you could say there is one instance where it appears to be used towards a believer, this would be Paul’s usage in 1 Timothy 1:15, but if we actually look at this verse in context we can clearly see Paul is actually speaking of his past. Bible scholars have made this same truthful conclusion for centuries.
Now I am not saying that you will never commit a sin. You must allow Christ in you and the Holy Spirit to work and one day you will reach a place of no wrong doing in any way in the natural realm as well as supernatural, but it most likely will be when Jesus calls you home. You must always remember however your position and place of favor as a member of His Body. As a believer doing sin and being sin are two different things. A believer may commit a sin, but a believer is not a “sinner”.
You may not agree with the fact that you are no longer a “sinner”, you may have been taught different, you may want to argue with me, but I am not the one who originally made this claim. God makes this claim about you, that you are not a “sinner”, in scripture. So who do you think is actually right about who you are? God or your favorite teacher or pastor?
Which leads us to now to a wonderful revelation into what God actually chooses to call His children in scripture.
I did a lot of work already so now it’s your time to open your bibles and look up for yourself what believers are referred as. It has been scripturally established that believers are not called “sinner” or “sinners”, but I just can’t leave you completely hanging. I just can’t help myself but to share a few with you. It’s so exciting to know who you really are, so I can’t hold back.
Believer, body, brethren, bride, brother, called, children of God, chosen, chosen generation, church, disciple, faithful, heir of righteousness, holy nation, justified, light, peculiar people, righteous, royal priesthood, saints, salt, did I just go ahead and list them all? Can you find any more? If you do leave them in a comment below.
God bless, and I hope now you will stop calling yourself a “sinner” which is no better than calling yourself, a child of God, “loser”, “ugly” or “worthless” and start calling yourself “beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.” And “Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren which are with me to greet you.”