The above is one of the saddest statements made in the Christian church. It displays a lack of understanding about how God sees sin and worse, how God sees saints.
The picture to the right is an excellent depiction of the believer's relationship to sin. We cannot be in sin while at the same time being in Christ for Jesus is the bridge that takes us from death (sin) to life.
Do you know that God never calls a Christian a sinner? So what is the difference between being a sinner and being a Christian?
Below we review every occurrence of the word "sinner" in the King James Bible. The purpose is not to give a deep exposition of each text, but to simply see who God calls "sinners". In doing this, we will see how God contrasts sinners versus those who belong to Him. You will notice that you can only be one or the other, not both.
Lot could either dwell with God's chosen (Abraham) OR with the sinners (Sodom).
"Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom. But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly." Genesis 1:12-13One is in sin prior to the offering and hallowed afterwards.
"The censers of these sinners against their own souls, let them make them broad plates for a covering of the altar: for they offered them before the LORD, therefore they are hallowed: and they shall be a sign unto the children of Israel." Numbers 16:38Either one is a part of God's camp OR the camp of sinners.
"And Samuel said, When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the LORD anointed thee king over Israel? And the LORD sent thee on a journey, and said, Go and utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites, and fight against them until they be consumed." I Samuel 15:17-18You are either delighting in God's law OR are in the way of a sinner.
"Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night." Psalms 1:1-2One is either righteous OR a sinner.
"Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous." Psalms 1:5One is a sinner before salvation and changed from being a sinner afterwards
“Behold, the righteous shall be recompensed in the earth: much more the wicked and the sinner.” Proverbs 11:31
"Evil pursueth sinners: but to the righteous good shall be repayed." Proverbs 13:21
"For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous." Romans 5:19
"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, for whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;" I Timothy 1:9-10
Further, neither is Paul claiming here to be a "chief sinner" as some often misinterpret. He says that he is chief amongst those sinners who have been saved by Christ. He is expounding upon the extraordinary salvatory power of Christ, to the point where God could save even him.
"And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; who WAS BEFORE a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.
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. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting." I Timothy 1:12-16
In verse 12-13, Paul makes a clear distinction between his condition pre-salvation and afterwards be speaking of what he was "before". Paul doesn’t continue in the ways of unrighteousness and neither is he glorying about such a sinful state. He is making a stark contrast between what he was before (a sinner) and what he is now (saved). Unless we can say that such things are behind us, we cannot inherit the Kingdom of God (I Corinthians 6:9-11).
One either has integrity and is redeemed with mercy by Christ OR one is a sinner.
"Gather not my soul with sinners, nor my life with bloody men: In whose hands is mischief, and their right hand is full of bribes. But as for me, I will walk in mine integrity: redeem me, and be merciful unto me." Psalms 26:9-11
Zion and her converts are redeemed, BUT the sinner is consumed.
"Let the sinners be consumed out of the earth, and let the wicked be no more. Bless thou the LORD, O my soul. Praise ye the LORD." Psalms 104:35
"Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it." Isaiah 13:9
"Zion shall be redeemed with judgment, and her converts with righteousness. And the destruction of the transgressors and of the sinners shall be together, and they that forsake the LORD shall be consumed." Isaiah 1:27-18
Those called by God's name shall inherit the land, BUT the sinners will die.
"All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword, which say, The evil shall not overtake nor prevent us. In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old: That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and of all the heathen, which are called by my name, saith the LORD that doeth this." Amos 9:10-12
One is either upright OR a the sinner.
"Good and upright is the LORD: therefore will he teach sinners in the way." Psalms 25:8
“Righteousness keepeth him that is upright in the way: but wickedness overthroweth the sinner.” Proverbs 13:6
"The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings? He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly; he that despiseth the gain of oppressions, that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil; He shall dwell on high: his place of defence shall be the munitions of rocks: bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure." Isaiah 33:14-16
One is either a good man OR a sinner.
“A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children's children: and the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just.” Proverbs 13:22
“For God giveth to a man that is good in his sight wisdom, and knowledge, and joy: but to the sinner he giveth travail, to gather and to heap up, that he may give to him that is good before God. This also is vanity and vexation of spirit.” Ecclesiastes 2:26
“All things come alike to all: there is one event to the righteous, and to the wicked; to the good and to the clean, and to the unclean; to him that sacrificeth, and to him that sacrificeth not: as is the good, so is the sinner; and he that sweareth, as he that feareth an oath.” Ecclesiastes 9:2
He who pleases God escapes, BUT the sinner is taken.
“And I find more bitter than death the woman, whose heart is snares and nets, and her hands as bands: whoso pleaseth God shall escape from her; but the sinner shall be taken by her.” Ecclesiastes 7:26
Those who have wisdom vs. the sinner.
"Let not thine heart envy sinners: but be thou in the fear of the LORD all the day long." Proverbs 23:17
“Though a sinner do evil an hundred times, and his days be prolonged, yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before him” Ecclesiastes 8:12
“Wisdom is better than weapons of war: but one sinner destroyeth much good.” Ecclesiastes 9:18
"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 11:19
"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! But wisdom is justified of all her children." Luke 7:34-35
The son vs. the sinner.
"My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not." Proverbs 1:10
The end for God’s children vs the end for sinners.
“There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed.” Isaiah 65:20
Here God is using the concept of age to reference the end for humanity. Is it possible for a “child” to die at 100 years of age? No. By definition, such is not a child; the statement is an oxymoron. For His children, He dismantles the concept of age and makes it irrelevant.
When will death occur for God’s children? When a “child” reaches 100 years. In other words, the end for God’s people is everlasting life (which transcends age). Yet, the end for sinners is always damnation no matter how long they live.
Pre-salvation: a sinner. Post-salvation: forgiven.
“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; And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. 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 7:37-39
The woman with the alabaster box was a sinner. Yet, Jesus tells her “Thy sins are forgiven.” Luke 7:48b
Pre-salvation: lost. Post-salvation: found.
“Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them. And he spake this parable unto them, saying, What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. 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. Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it? And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost. Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.” Luke 15:1-7
One is either dead OR alive, lost OR found; one cannot be both.
It should be noted that Jesus builds on this analogy with the story of the prodigal son immediately after this. Again we see the contrast, “for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.” Luke 15:32
Either one worships and obeys God OR one is a sinner.
"Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth." John 9:31
"Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded." James 4:8
One is either a saint OR a sinner.
"And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, 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." Judah 1:14-15
We WERE sinners, but we are NOW justified.
“The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. 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. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” Luke 18:11-14
"But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him." Romans 5:8-9
"We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. 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. For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor." Galatians 2:15-18
One is either made whole OR still sick with sin. Either given mercy through repentance OR still a sinner.
"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. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. 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 9:10-13
"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. 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 2:15-17
"But their scribes and Pharisees murmured against his disciples, saying, Why do ye eat and drink with publicans and sinners? And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." Luke 5:30
"And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. 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? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." Luke 13:2-5
One either loves one's enemies and does good OR one is a sinner.
"For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. 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. But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil." Luke 6:32-35
One is either on the side of Jesus Christ OR on the side of sinners.
"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." Matthew 26:45
"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" Mark 14:41
"Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds." Hebrews 12:2-3
Pre-salvation: sinner. Post-salvation: saved.
“And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner. And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold. And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Luke 19:7-10
"Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens." Hebrews 7:25-26
One is either doing the work of God OR one is a sinner.
"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 9:16
"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 9:24
"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." John 9:27
The Pharisees tried to label Jesus as a sinner, but their accusations could not deny that He did the works of God.
One is either working towards good OR evil.
"For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his glory; why yet am I also judged as a sinner? And not rather, (as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say,) Let us do evil, that good may come? whose damnation is just." Romans 3:7-8
You are either converted from being a sinner OR you are still a sinner.
"Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee." Psalms 51:13
"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." James 5:20
You convert a sinner. Convert is the Greek word "epistrephō" which means: to turn, to cause to return, to bring back.
We have reviewed every Scripture with the word sinner/sinners in the KJV above. If God defines Christians as sinners - and we apply these texts about sinners to Christians - then Christians are damned and have no hope.
When people still claim to be sinners while also professing salvation, not only is this concept unbiblical, but they make the same mistake Peter made. They are calling that which God has cleaned & sanctified "unholy and unclean" (Acts 10:9-15). God does not clean us so that we can then go back to wallowing in the mire or returning to the vomit of sin.
It is clear when you review these verses that when God speaks of "sinners", He is not speaking of those who have been born again through faith in Jesus Christ. So, who is God speaking of in these texts and what does that say about Christians and sin?