Am I a sinner because I sin? Or do I sin because I’m a sinner? The question of the born again believer’s position or status is not a new subject or debate. The apostle Paul clearly describes himself as both sinner and saint, even describing himself as the chief of sinners (I Timothy 1:15
). Romans 7
pretty clearly describes the battle of the mind from two perspectives. In Romans 7
, Paul describes his experience as a sinner, (vs. 15-20
) and at times, the lack of control to overcome his tendency to sin. He goes on to say, “I’m a miserable man, and who is going to deliver me from this awful body of death?” (vs. 24
) Yet in the very next chapter, he begins with a completely different perspective of himself based on his position in Christ, not his present day experience. He starts out by saying, “I am no longer under any condemnation because I walk in the Spirit of new life not under the flesh, which is death.” Paul did not have a personality disorder from chapter 7 to chapter 8 but rather a change in perspective of who he was.
We must make the decision in our mind, not based on how we feel, or on our past history, but rather on what God says about us. We ARE more than conquerors (Romans 8:37
), we ARE saints in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6
), we ARE partakers of the divine nature (II Peter 1:4
). In contrast, if we say we have not sinned we make God out to be a liar, but if we walk in darkness or practice sinful living we have no fellowship with Him (I John 1:6-10
). The only way we can harmonize these two opposing views is with the understanding that the occasional act of sin is not the same as practicing sinful living. Take note: practice only makes one better at what he does, and followers of Christ certainly don’t want to become better sinners.
The saints addressed in the New Testament epistles were called saints based on their citizenship in heaven, not on their perfect and holy performances. Our status as saints doesn’t mean we cannot, or will not, ever sin again. Rather, our perspective should be that I am a saint who may occasionally sin, not a hopeless, desperate sinner who one day reaches heaven’s gates and finally becomes a saint. Remember as a person thinks in their heart so they are (Proverbs 23:7), so stinking thinking will bring about stinking living, but aligning my thinking with what God says about me will bring about victorious living.