Theology of "Sinners"


Hi there, everyone! Had someone from the congregation call me this morning concerned about using the term "sinners" in reference to Christians. The person felt that we are no longer referred to as sinners in the scriptures of the New Testament, and that therefore we ought not be referred to that way now either. An example of where this might occur would be when we prepare for the Lord's Supper and we invite people to come to the table if the know they are sinners and need Jesus' saving work in their lives, etc. So my question is this: In your opinion, should Christians refer to themselves as:

  • Saints
    • Always
    • Sometimes
    • Never
  • Sinners
    • Always
    • Sometimes
    • Never

Also (of course) why do you answer the way you do?

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That's a valid question, and I think the answer is "yes." The reality is that we are both -- the New Testament makes it clear of course, that we are "saints" -- God's chosen people, Holy & Dearly loved, the bride of Christ, & many other images that illustrate our nature that has been called & cleansed.

The reality is that we are, at least on this side of heaven, also sinners, as the sinful nature still rages within. Romans 7 attests to this (of course, that raises a whole other issue...! -- before, or after conversion?!).

The best way, I think, is to find a balance. When we do our time of confession, I try to find a way to bring out both the fact that we, as a church are "different" from non-believers; we are the people who have been once and for all forgiven by sin, and thus redeemed, but who also continually need to acknowledge our sinfulness.

So, that's not a very helpful answer, but it reflects the tension of the question.