Are Christians No Longer Sinners?

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

Once Christians are saved, are they no longer sinners? What does the Bible say about this?

Romans 7

I still struggle over my sinful nature every single day. I just can’t break free from the tendency of my heart. It reminds me of the struggle the Apostle Paul had after conversion, where he wrote, “For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing” (Rom 7:18b-19). Doesn’t that describe you? It does me! I suppose we can take a bit of comfort in knowing that we’re in a struggle, because any old dead fish can float downstream (Eph 2:1), but the ones who struggle with sin are swimming upstream against the culture and their own sinful nature. They (and we) simply must press on and look ahead to the coming kingdom, however, if there is no struggle with sin, there may be no presence of the Spirit, so even though we battle with sin, it’s good to be in the battle, but if there’s no battle, it’s time to examine one’s self to see if they’re in the faith or not. In our little victories over sin, God is pleased, even though we fall infinitely short (Rom 3:23), but that is what sanctification is…a slow growing process of holiness in the person’s life brought about by the Holy Spirit, and why I believe He is called the “Holy Spirit.” He lives to make us holy and more like Christ. Even in Paul’s sin, he understood that “it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me,” (Rom 7:17), but he does acknowledge that only through Jesus Christ can he possibly be saved (Rom 7:24-25). Paul wasn’t the only wretch on the planet.

Saints Yet Sinners

Martin Luther must have understood the tension between the now and the not yet; the time now when we struggle with sin and the time when we’ll be saved to sin no more, but even after we’re saved, the Bible still says, all have sinned and all are still sinners (1st John 1:8, 10; Rom 3:23), so it’s difficult to reconcile their statement that they’re not sinners with Scripture. Once some people are saved, they believe they are no longer sinners, but that’s really sad, because Jesus came to die for sinners and not the just (which is really zero; Rom 3:10-12, 23). When I pressed one man at our church who said that, I ask him, “So you haven’t told a lie in the 7 years you’ve been saved?” He said, “Well, no, I’ve told a few,” so I said, “See, you’re a liar like the rest of us!?” He said, he wasn’t a liar, so I asked, “How many lies does it take to be called a liar” (hint; just one!) and how many bank robberies does it take to be called a bank robber? Why else would Paul call himself the chief of sinners after his conversion, and after God had appointed him as the Apostle to the Gentiles, if he still didn’t consider himself one? Why would God appoint a sinner for such an important position? It’s because He can’t find a sinless one! The only Sinless One was Jesus Christ, Who is also God, so God uses sinners like us, even though we have received the righteousness of Christ, but even that is not our own righteousness (2nd Cor 5:21). Our own righteousness isn’t very pleasant to read about (Isaiah 64:6). Not every person I know that says they’re not a sinner is self-righteous. I’m not making sweeping generalizations, but I have had at least two people come up to me and complain about others in our church, and they came across as self-righteous because they looked down on the other church members, who, like the rest of us, are sinners! And what he was talking about was not an essential area of concern. To me, it was not sin, but to them, who believed they “knew no sin,” it was offensive. I tried talking with these men about what Jesus said of those who trusted in their own righteousness, and their self-righteousness made them look down on others, even despising some (Luke 18:9; Rom 10:3). Sadly, they are no longer with us.

Confessing Sin

Why, if we’re no longer sinners, why would the Apostle John tell us that when we have sin, we can confess it to God since “he is faithful and just to forgive us” (1st John 1:9)? If a believer is suddenly no longer a sinner, why are we often told in the Bible to confess our sins (from Exodus to Revelation)? Isn’t repentance and confession of sin an ongoing process after God brings them to Christ (2nd Tim 2:25)? If I tried to live with my wife and tell her, “Well, I’m not a sinner (she’d laugh!) and so I don’t need to ask your forgiveness when I do something that makes you mad because we have a personal relationship with one another.” That won’t sit well at all. John sandwiches the verse about asking for forgiveness between two verses that declare we need it! “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1st John 1:8), and “If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us” (1st John 1:10).

Conclusion

I don’t mind admitting to anyone that will listen that I’m a sinner. If I try to deny that, my life will prove me wrong, so I believe it’s best to admit we’re still sinners, yet saved. Still a work in progress but secure in His hands (John 10:27-29). It is sanctification that is at work. God is working in us and through us, but that doesn’t mean we just “let go and let God.” No, Jesus said “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able” (Luke 13:24), and so we must “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many” (Matt 7:13).

Read more here: Why Are We Born Sinners?

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible : English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.



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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Jennifer H MacRae Howie August 18, 2018 at 3:40 pm

I’m not too sure many Christians DO want to know this, but they certainly need to know it. Without an awareness that we still sin we have no need to confess our sin and, therefore, no way to receive God’s mercy. We enter by Jesus’ righteousness and continue in our own. Thank you, Sir, good article.

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Jack Wellman August 18, 2018 at 5:30 pm

Thank you for the encouraging words Jennifer. Love you pointing out God’s mercy.

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Betty September 10, 2020 at 3:14 pm

We are saints. Not sinners. We are dead to sin. Even when we fall short it does not undo what Christ did on the cross. If we believe we are sinners we dilute the power of the blood. Read 1john 3:9. No one who is born of God will continue to sin..they have been born of God. Im sure they do t mean we are perfect. But we must know our identity. Rise up as saints. Kings. Queens.

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Jack Wellman September 11, 2020 at 10:56 am

Hello Betty. I disagree and so do the Bible with your opinion. The Bible (not me or you) says “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23), and “There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not on” (Rom 3:10-12). Solomon’s wisdom understood that “there is no one who does not sin” (1 King 8:46) so either I believe you (you are not a sinner) or I believe the Bible. Clearly the Bible is right and you are wrong, so have you stopped sinning? Do you never sin anymore? If so, either you are in heaven or you are God who does not sin. Humble yourself and admit you are a sinner…I sense your pride is clouding your judgment of Scripture for you are a sinner like all mankind. the 1 John 3 is “those who continually sin” is the best translation but you need a good study Bible for you are in great error and I pray you are not teaching others this heresy. 1 JOhn 1:8, & 10 says “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 1If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” so you are in serious error as you can read from Scripture. Your opinion does not match the Word of God.

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Norm Toler March 29, 2021 at 10:48 am

I noticed that of all of the scriptures you quote that these scriptures are conspicuous by their absence—-1) “WE ARE the righteousness of God IN Christ.” 2 Corinthians 5:21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. Also this one—->“But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:21-24).

This view still being a sinner is in my view a dangerous dichotomy bordering on a kind of schizophrenic or bipolar condition in the Christian walk.

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Jack Wellman March 29, 2021 at 1:32 pm

Hello Mr. Toler. What is dangerous is to think (as you do) that you are not a sinner any more which means you don’t sin anymore, so that’s like calling God a liar (1 John 1:8, 10) so I suggest a good study Bible and look into this more diligently. Do you not sin any more? Don’t you sin even after being born again? Christians are both sinners and saints. All human beings are sinners because we are born in sin. But not all humans are saints. According to the Bible, a saint is not someone who has done wonderful things, nor is it someone who has been deemed a saint by a church or organization. The word translated “saint” in the New Testament, hagios, literally means “sacred, physically pure; morally blameless or religious; ceremonially consecrated; holy.” In the context of New Testament passages, saints are those who belong to the body of Christ, saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8–9). In other words, saint is another word for a Christian, a true believer in the Lord Jesus Christ.

It is a clear biblical truth that all are born in sin and all have a sin nature. Scripture says that God created humankind originally good and without a sin nature: “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.’ . . . God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:26–27). However, Genesis 3 records the fall of Adam and Eve, and with that fall sin entered into the two previously sinless creatures. And when they had children, their sin nature was passed along to their offspring. Thus, every human being is a sinner.

Saints, on the other hand, are not born saints; they become saints by being reborn. Because we have all “sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), we are all in need of spiritual rebirth, without which we will continue in our sinful state throughout eternity. But God, in His great mercy and grace, has provided the (only) means for turning a sinner into a saint—the Lord Jesus Christ, who came “to give His life as a ransom for many.” When we confess our need for a Savior from sin and accept His sacrifice on the cross on our behalf, we become saints.

There is no hierarchy of saints. All who belong to Christ by faith are saints, and none of us are more “saintly” than our Christian brothers and sisters. The apostle Paul, who is no more of a saint than the most obscure Christian, begins his first letter to the Corinthian church by declaring that they were “sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be saints, together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:2, emphasis added). In this verse, hagios is translated “saints,” “holy,” and “sanctified” in different Bible versions, leading to the unmistakable conclusion that all who have ever called upon Christ for salvation are saints, made holy by the Lord. We are all “fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19).

We are not saints because we have been declared to be saints by a church, nor can we work our way to sainthood. Once we are saved by faith, however, we are called to certain actions befitting our calling as saints of God. “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy’” (1 Peter 1:15–16). Saints are not sinless, but the lives of saints do reflect the reality of the presence of Christ in our hearts, in whom we “live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). What is dangerous to me is the pride that some say “I’m not a sinner” or “I’m no longer a sinner” while the godly man, the Apostle Paul said he was the chief of all sinners. Please repent of this prideful view of yourself. We are sinners yet saved, but only when we pass thru the veil will we be saved to sin no more. Read the Word more closely. And your words betray a bitter spirit in you as you said those who believe we still sin are “a dangerous dichotomy bordering on a kind of schizophrenic or bipolar condition.” Are you a doctor? Have you a degree in phycology? Your harsh words as such are very un-Christ like my friend. Please repent of this bitter attitude you have.

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Carol Uren February 8, 2021 at 5:46 am

Thank you for this. One of my sons shocked me by announcing that because he’s saved he’s no longer a sinner. He goes to a church where they, apparently, have ‘apostles’ so I assume he’s getting this heresy from there. Worrying.

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Paul J Fishman March 24, 2021 at 12:44 pm

I have NO choice but to agree with this article. Except for a very few exception, the mass of humanity EVEN us in the Body of Christ have a sinful human nature and each of us at time commit sin by action or inaction. We can even commit sin by NOT going to God in prayer ahead of times of temptation. This especially in Western Cultures is our worst vice.

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Jack Wellman March 24, 2021 at 1:41 pm

Very well said Mr. Fishman. What a great and insight comment you left. Truly godly words of wisdom. Thank you sir.

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Paul Fishman March 25, 2021 at 6:21 am

Yesterday I had a very bad moment and KNOW I must turn to the Lord again and again. Thank You

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Jim May 22, 2021 at 10:39 am

Awesome I love to hear the truth nothing can stand against it and not be exposed of it’s TRUE nature. We still must be changed and that doesn’t happen until the last trump in the twinkling of an eye. Oh what a day that will be

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Case July 17, 2021 at 2:10 pm

All of your verses are merely speaking about non believers claiming things, like being without sin, or people like Paul speaking about himself before a follower as to relate to people from his own experiences of being a non follower. What you are claiming is that we don’t have free will, we are sinners and will always be, which is no true at all. Our nature was not to sin. Once man did sin and took on a sin nature God sent His Son to take back and restore what was from the beginning. If our nature was to sin from the beginning then Adam and Eve would not have needed a fruit to sin they would have already been sinning. If your identity is giving credit to satan more
Than Jesus then it is flawed. Either we are slaves to sin or to righteousness and I think we both know what the Bible says about that.

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Jack Wellman July 17, 2021 at 2:42 pm

Hello Case. Please read the Bible like in 1 John 1:8, & 1 John 1:10 which is why we need daily confession of sins (1 John 1:9). So you no longer sin? Have you stopped sinning altogether? If so, you should be in heaven. Paul was not referring to before conversion as he said he obeyed the Law so a good study Bible will help you out much my friend to clear up your misunderstanding. Finally, Jesus was not flawed and it was impossible for Him to have any flaws.

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