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Christian – Sinner or Saint?

Now that Jesus has come to live in you (assuming He has) by His Spirit, how do you describe your true identity? In other words, who are you? If you say that you are a believer, a Christian (a “little Christ”), you are accurate from a biblical standpoint. It is common to hear believers say that they are now children of God. After all, the Bible teaches it. You are either a believer and you belong to God or you are an unbeliever who belongs to Satan. But did you know that you are either a sinner or a saint?

Though we have heard the term “saint” before, we tend to identify more with being a sinner than a saint because we typically learn these terms in the context of religious and doctrinal teaching or have heard them used as clichés in everyday life. It is important to understand the origin and the intent of these words as they are used in the Bible.

As explained in previous writings, the word “sin” came from the sport of archery and signified completely missing the mark of the intended target. Thus, the term “sinner” is a biblical reference to a person whose life has completely missed the mark of God’s intended purpose for their life. Scripturally, the term is used synonymously with the term “unbeliever,” indicating someone whose life is still under the control of Satan. Left to themselves, sinners have no chance of pleasing God.

Therefore, for a believer, it is a deception to think you are a sinner as part of your fundamental identity. By contrast, the term “saint” represents a sanctified person. One who is “called out.” Being a saint is synonymous with being a believer. Of course, through time, the term “saint” has been misconstrued to mean a perfect person with holy behavior who is honored after their death for some particular outstanding characteristic.

Consequently, the glory goes to men for their good works rather than to the Creator who made the good works possible through faith and grace in Jesus Christ. It is important to understand that being a saint does not mean one has sinless behavior. If you say that you have not sinned, you make God out to be a liar (1 John 1:10). Being a saint reveals your identity as a believer, and there are inherent responsibilities in this identity to represent God in a glorifying way.

Who’s Teaching You?

But aren’t we just “sinners saved by grace”? We hear this a lot, and this is fine-sounding theology taught by many of our pastors and favorite radio teachers. They teach that we have two natures within us, a sinful nature and a holy nature. These two natures battle within us like two knights—one representing good and the other representing evil—and the holy nature ultimately wins the battle over the sinful one. Is it true that you are a spiritual schizophrenic?

No, the Scriptures teach that you have the fundamental identity of being a saint of the most High God. It is a high calling and one that we need faith and God’s grace to live up to.

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