I’ve heard many Christians say, “I’m just a sinner, saved by grace”. In fact, I used to claim this statement myself for many years. But today, as I am continuing to learn more about the grace that God has freely given us, I can stand before you in truth and say, “I am no longer a sinner!”
Now, if you want to get some religious people upset really quickly, I dare you to say to them what I just said to you. They would be quick to correct my statement that I am not a sinner, using scriptures like:
“If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.” (I John 1:10), or:
“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)
I am not questioning the fact that I still sin. In fact, I think you would be hard pressed to find any Christian who would be so bold to say that they never do anything wrong. But, just because I still sin, does that make me a sinner?
To accurately answer this question, let’s look at how we all became sinners in the first place. Romans 5:12 tells us that we became sinners because of what Adam, our first ancestor, did. Because of Adam’s original sin, we now all have a “sin gene” in our DNA that is a part of who we are. We didn’t do anything to cause this “sin gene” to be inside of us – just the fact that we were born ensured that we would be sinners. In short, we are not sinners because we sin. We are sinners because we were born into sin from our ancestor Adam.
Verses 13 and 14 are SO amazing! “For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law” (Romans 5:13). This tells us that because the law did not exist between the time of Adam and Moses, God was not punishing people because of their sins. Think about it…how can you break a law when no law exists? Sure, people were still suffering and dying, because sin produces death – but death came from the sin itself, not from God’s punishment!
Here is where it gets good! In verses 15-21, Paul explicitly shows us how just as we became sinners because of Adam (not because of our sins), that when we put our faith in Jesus, we now become righteous and justified before God. Just as we did not “sin” our way into becoming sinners, we can’t “behave” our way into become righteous and justified. Once you believe in Jesus, you are given a new nature – a new spirit – a sinless spirit!
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Over and over again in verses 15-18, we are told that righteousness and grace is a “free gift” to us through faith in Jesus Christ. Here is a breakdown of who God now says we are, as believers in Jesus:
- Vs. 15: Because of one man’s offense (Adam), many died. Because of one Man’s grace, grace abounds to many!
- Vs. 16: Through Adam, judgment brought condemnation. Through Jesus, the free gift brings justification!
- Vs. 17: Through Adam, death reigned. Through Jesus, we reign in life!
- Vs. 18: Because of Adam, judgment resulted in condemnation. Because of Jesus, the free gift results in justification!
- Vs. 19: One man’s disobedience made many sinners. One Man’s obedience made many righteous!
- Vs. 20: Because of the law, sin abounded. But grace abounds much more!
- Vs. 21: Sin reigned in death. But through Jesus Christ, grace reigns through righteousness!
I want to especially point out verse 19. Because of Adam, we were made sinners. But now, because we have faith in Jesus, we are no longer sinners. Just as before the law, we are no longer being judged by God for our sins. Not only that, but God does not see us as sinners – He sees us as righteous!
I’ll say again that this does not mean that we never perpetrate sin. But at our core, we are no longer sinners, we are righteous. A person who tells a lie cannot automatically be labeled as a compulsive liar. A person who has a drink cannot automatically be labeled as an alcoholic. On the flip side, a mean person who does a good deed cannot be automatically be labeled as a great guy!
As believers in Christ, our actions no longer dictate our identity. I am no longer considered a sinner. You are no longer considered a sinner. And I am convinced that once we can own up to our true identity – the righteousness of God by faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 5:17) – we will actually see less and less sin show up in our lives!