Identity Series: Part 6—You Are No Longer a Sinner, You are a Saint

In the past few weeks we’ve looked at a few False Identities men are prone to latch onto such as Social GroupsHobbies, and Romantic Relationships. We then shifted gears to look at Who God Says You Are, which is the only place you can find your true identity. Please subscribe using the links in the sidebar to be sure you don’t miss out on the remainder of this series.

You Are No Longer a Sinner, You are a Saint

Would you believe me if I told you anyone who is in Christ is no longer a sinner? What if God told you it was true? The truth is, He has told you just that:

You also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus (Romans 6:11).

When Christ took all of your sin upon Himself on the cross, He destroyed its power over you. Because of this, your previous identity of “sinner” died along with Christ:

My old self [sinner] has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:20).

Saint Paul of the Cross

Now that the power of sin over me has been broken, I can trust that Christ living within me will empower me to live the life He has called me to. But not only that, I can also trust Him when He says that I am truly dead to sin. Which means I am no longer a sinner—I am a saint!

In the same way that you cannot be both “in Adam” and “in Christ,” you cannot be both a saint and a sinner. You are one or the other. In order to reconcile this with what feels like a very different reality—we all still sin—we need to look at it a bit deeper.

First, what is the definition of a sinner? One who sins, right? Nope. A sinner is one who can do nothing but sin. See the difference? If you are still separated from Christ, everything you do, no matter how noble or good it is, is done apart from Him. And anything done apart from Christ is sin. If you are in Him, though, you now have the ability to do good things “in Christ”—things that are not sin. Likewise, a saint is not someone who never sins, but someone who doesn’t have to sin. Sin has lost its power over you. You are not a sinner who has been saved, but a saint who sometimes gives in to sin.

We see this being played out with Paul as he shares his own continuing struggle with sin:

I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.

I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me (Romans 7:18–23).

Sounds familiar, right? This same battle played out in my mind every time I gave in to porn. Why do I keep doing this if I’m supposedly dead to sin? Paul can’t really be “dead to sin” if he’s writing this, can he? Well, let’s look closer. Paul clearly states in this passage that he loves God’s law with all his heart. We also know he is a follower of Christ at this point by reading the rest of the letter, so it’s clear that he is “in Christ.” Therefore, he must also be dead to sin. But why does he still struggle? The key to understanding this seeming contradiction is to notice a few easily overlooked phrases.

First: “I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.” Did you catch that? Sin is doing these actions within Paul. Not Paul. Paul is a saint—dead to sin and alive to Christ. This sin does not define him, but it still influences him. It has no ability to change his standing in Christ, but it can still wreak havoc in his life.

Saint Paul

This sin within us is commonly referred to as “the flesh” throughout the New Testament. The flesh is not us; it is a false self—a lie. At the end of our life here on Earth, it will die, but the real you will continue to exist. That is why Paul says it is not really he who is sinning but the flesh within him. His true identity—who he really is—is completely separate from this sin within him. It does not define him.

Second: “There is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me.” Something else is inside of Paul. Something that is not Paul. The power he is referring to here is the devil and all of his minions, who are constantly trying to convince you that your sin does define you. They are trying to get you to lose sight of the reality that you are dead to sin. These powers are waging a war within Paul’s mind (and our minds as well) by whispering lies and accusations in an attempt to lure him back into the bondage of sin.

As one who is “in Christ,” though, you are no longer a slave to sin. But if you believe Satan’s lie that you still are a slave, you will continue to live as if his accusation is true. As long as you still believe your identity is “sinner,” you will believe that you have no choice but to give in to sin whenever temptation comes. If, however, you believe that you are a saint, you will trust the Word of God when it says that sin is no longer your master. And once you chose to trust the Word, you can begin to live in the truth it declares.

Come back next week for Part 7: You Are a Child of God


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  • dennis matthewson

    “Likewise, a saint is not someone who never sins, but someone who doesn’t have to sin [at any given time.”] I would add those four words because, if “I inevitably do what is wrong,” then I MUST sin (that is, I HAVE to sin) though maybe not at any given time. Picky, I know, but it does make a difference…