Far too many Christians have become far too comfortable with sin! Instead of struggling against sin, disciples are accepting sin as an unavoidable norm and embracing the idea that they are indeed sinners. While it is true that in one sense, we might be considered sinners (cf. 1 Tim. 1:15), this fact must be reconciled with the idea that disciples are described as saints (cf. Rom. 1:7, et al).
Disciples are challenged and expected to “die to sin.” As Paul asked, “How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” (Rom. 6:2). Therefore, “sinner” should represent our past existence—one a disciple is struggling against, not continuing to embrace as a norm.
This does not mean disciples will never, in any way, sin against the Lord. John acknowledges as fact our struggle when he writes, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8-9).
Within John’s words—a truth seen in a variety of other passages—lies the basic difference between a struggling saint and a settling sinner. A struggling saint will confess sin as wrong, seeking to remain cleansed (or sanctified, thus saintly) of these confessed sins. A settling sinner sees no need for confession. Such thinking acknowledges sin in one’s life as an unavoidable norm for a disciple, and as such, a somehow acceptable norm. Where a saint struggles against sin, striving to avoid it by God’s grace, sinners tend to settle into sin, essentially continuing in it that grace may abound.
John continues “My little children, these things I write to you, so that you many not sin” (1 John 2:1). The goal of every disciples should be to cease from sin (cf. 1 Pet. 4:1), not embrace it in any way. By all means, a disciple will acknowledge the sinful state of his past, and even confess the struggles with sin he faces now, but by no means should he ever embrace “sinner” as his current reality.