Just STOP Saying “We Are All Sinners” – STOP IT!!

1Co 6:9-11 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, (10) nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (11) And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

I cannot fully convey to you how absolutely sick and tired I am of hearing this line from people who claim they are Christians. “Well, you know, we are all sinners.” Let me explain why this not only nauseates me, it makes me boiling mad.

I detest false piety. It’s what the hypocrite does. A showy disguise of “godliness” – or so they would have us think. And that is exactly what this motto is. It is a lie, disguised as humble, saintly, biblical, godliness and worse – it is a lie that is used to:

  • Minimize the sin of the wicked (like an abuser)
  • Guilt and shame the righteous who are the target of the wicked
  • Justify doing absolutely nothing in the face of evil

Let me illustrate. I will try to disguise the culprits, though I don’t really know why I should. Here is Janet. You probably already know her story. Janet has been married for 30 years. She is a true Christian, but she has been soooo confused not only by the deceiving tactics of her abuser husband (who claims to be a Christian and loves to quote Scriptures to her) but also by the false teachings of her church. As Janet begins to sort through the confusing fog of all this, she finally approaches her “friend” Margaret (you know, the kind of “friend” who it turns out you need to steer clear of).

“Margaret,” my husband is not who you and everyone thinks he is. He is not the saintly, serving, godly man he appears to be. Let me tell you what he is really like and what it is like to live with him.” And so Janet shares part of her story.

Now, Margaret, for numbers of reasons (none of which are good) begins to churn inside as she works to process what she is hearing. Her world is threatened and she doesn’t want her world rocked. Too costly to her. So, when Janet is finished, Margaret gives her some “Christian words of wisdom” – “Well, Janet, none of us are perfect. We are all sinners. You need to be patient and loving all the more.” Margaret feels so warm and fuzzy inside. She has been a fine Christian in all this you know.

What is the reality however? The truth is that what Margaret has just done is right out of the pit. It is a conniving, evil tidbit of distorted doctrine invented by man, never taught by God’s Word. Margaret has just blamed and shamed Janet, the victim, and enabled and protected the wicked. Margaret is an ally of evil.

The Bible NEVER teaches us that Christians are sinners. Never. We were. We used to be. We were born into this world fallen in Adam. By nature:

Eph 2:1-3 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins (2) in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience– (3) among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

BUT…. BUT GOD!!!

Eph 2:4-6 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, (5) even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ–by grace you have been saved– (6) and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,

The Christian is a child of God, a saint, a holy one, beloved of God, a new creation, and on and on the titles for us go. We are still battling our fallen flesh, but that is not who we are anymore.

Gal 5:16-17 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. (17) For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.

Notice the “you” very carefully (boldfaced). Who are YOU, Christian?  YOU are the one who wants to walk in the Spirit. Those are the things YOU want to do. YOU are not defined as a person any longer by the flesh. The Bible says this over and over again:

Rom 8:4-9 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (5) For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. (6) For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. (7) For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. (8) Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (9) You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.

Therefore, when some supposed Christian like Margaret says “Well, we are all sinners you know. You need to forgive him. You are just as bad as him in God’s sight…” they are denying Christ. They are denying and rejecting the gospel. They are saying that a true Christian walks in the flesh but is still on his way to heaven. They are saying that the Christian is just as evil as the wicked abuser, deceiver, liar, child of Satan.

So if you are using this line, repent of it! Go to the person you shamed and guilted with it and ask their forgiveness. Get your head screwed on straight and start thinking biblically.

And perhaps be reminded of this:

Isa 5:20-21 Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! (21) Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight!

The True Christian Forgives as Jesus Forgives – True, and False

This past week my wife and I were driving up the interstate when we saw a large billboard that said:

Real Christians Forgive Like Jesus

The sign also included a Scripture reference,

Luke 23:34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments.

This is an example of not only misusing Scripture, but of dealing simplistically with a Bible doctrine that requires far more than a mere five words on a sign. And it is not harmless! Great damage is done by these kinds of foolish statements thrown out at people like cannon shots.

The pessimistic realist that I am, I suggest to you that I know what the message is that these sign preachers are throwing at us. “You don’t forgive like Jesus forgives. If you are a real Christian, then you must love your enemies (true). And this means that you must not seek justice for wrongs they have done you, you must strive to maintain relationship with them, and if you don’t do these things then you are not forgiving as Jesus forgives and it is doubtful you are a Christian at all.

Yes, Jesus prayed that His Father would forgive those who crucified Him. But a short time before He was put on the cross (see John 17) Jesus specifically said that He was praying for those the Father had given to Him, not for the whole world. Jesus knows His elect. And Jesus’ death on the cross at the hands of these people was an act of redemption and atonement for His own. Jesus, in other words, was unique. To make an across the board simplistic application of Jesus’ prayer for His enemies there on the cross to every single Christian in every single case subsequent to the cross is foolish.

But there is more.

How does Jesus forgive? Does He forgive everyone? Of course not. Check this out:

2Th 1:5-10 This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering– (6) since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, (7) and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels (8) in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. (9) They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, (10) when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.

We could go on and on. The Lord does not forgive everyone. And yet these signboard preachers throw distortions of Bible truth at car after car motoring up the freeway, insisting that a real Christian forgives everyone no matter what. Offers the worst of them warm hugs and kisses. I ask you, is this what we see Jesus doing in the Gospels? Is this what the Apostles preached and practiced as recorded in The Acts and the Epistles? Of course not.

One final point (though I could go on and on).

Unsaved people see signs like this and do you know what they conclude? I know unsaved people. I know lots of them. Many are my friends. I know what they would have said if they were in my car when I went past that sign. “Christians are idiots and fools.” And you know what? People who claim to be Christians but who distort and pervert the Word of God like this are fools indeed!

Christians, true Christians, really do forgive as Jesus did. And more. We pray for God’s holy wrath and justice to break out upon the wicked and destroy them for their oppression of the widow and orphan. Yep –

Psa 139:21-22 Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD? And do I not loathe those who rise up against you? (22) I hate them with complete hatred; I count them my enemies.

Consider the End of the Wicked – Their Feet are “set” Upon Slippery Places

If we only look at this present time and fail to consider “the end,” then we can easily become bitter when we see the wicked apparently prospering at the expense of their victims.  The Psalmist said it:

Behold, these are the wicked; always at ease, they increase in riches. All in vain have I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence. For all the day long I have been stricken and rebuked every morning. If I had said, “I will speak thus,” I would have betrayed the generation of your children. But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end. Truly you set them in slippery places; you make them fall to ruin. (Psa 73:12-18)

You can either read or listen to the sermon I preached on this very Scripture recently. As you will see, we all need a tune-up on our eyes of faith so that we set our minds on the promises of God and what He tells us about the true precarious position of the wicked and the sure, solid ground Christ’s people stand upon.