“I am a sinner saved by grace.” Have you ever heard that phrase before? I certainly have. I’ve even said it myself. I have come to the conclusion that this is a theologically incorrect statement, and it is actually detrimental for the believer to believe this. How could I say such a thing? Aren’t we saved by grace? And if we are saved, then we were saved from our sinfulness, right? Yes. Then what’s the big deal?
When people say this phrase, they use it as a way to describe themselves. Let’s look at the first two words. “I am.” These words “I am” are a prerequisite for a statement of identity. The next two words are “a sinner.” This is a profound statement of identity. “I am a sinner.” Let me make this as loud and as clear as possible.
If you are a born again Christian, your identity is no longer in your sin. Your identity is in Christ!
You have been bought by the blood of Christ and have been made alive in him (1 Corinthians 6:20, Ephesians 2:5). You are a child of God (John 1:12). You are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). You are the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). You have been set free from the slavery of sin (Galatians 5:1, Romans 6:18).
Why is this phrase a big deal? It’s a big deal because I am no longer a sinner; I have been made a saint. I am no longer enslaved to worldly desires, but have been given the mind of Christ. I am no longer dead, I am alive. My sin does not define me, Christ does! In the New Testament, the word “saint” or “saints” is used to describe the believing person, not the word “sinner.” So why do we use the word “sinner” to describe ourselves? Maybe it’s because we see the sin in our life and we cower in defeat rather than go to war.
We decide to identify ourselves with our sin rather than identify ourselves with our Savior.
Please do not hear me wrong. I am not saying that a believing Christian will never sin. I am saying it is wrong to identify ourselves in our sin rather than identify ourselves with Christ.
This is why the phrase is detrimental to a believer. If I see the word “sinner” and think to myself, “This is who I am” then I will be complacent in my sin rather than live in the grace of Christ who has set me free from sin. We do have victory (1 Corinthians 15:57). We do have freedom! We have everything we need to live a life of godliness (2 Peter 1:3). We must fix our eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2) rather than fixing our eyes on sin.
When we say we are a sinner, we refute the gospel as if the cross of Christ hasn't made us righteous.
I am not saying I am without sin (1 John 1:10), I am saying my identity is no longer in my sin.
Christ came to save sinners.
· Romans 5:8 says, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Christ died for sinners in order to make them righteous.
· Romans 5:17 “For if, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.”
· Romans 5:19 “For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous.”
Maybe a more theologically correct way to say this phrase would be, “I was a sinner saved by grace.” But now I have been made into a saint! I have been graced with the imputed righteousness of Christ and have a holy standing before Almighty God because of the blood of Jesus!
Are there any other common phrases we use in the church that are not theologically sound?
I have made some pretty strong points. For those of you who are older and wiser than me and disagree, please let me know. If you disagree, show me scripture to support your thoughts, and we can have a good discussion.