You’ve Got Questions: How Am I Really a Sinner?
This question is vital because if you do not realize that you are a sinner, then you will not recognize your need for a Savior. If you don’t first understand the serious consequences of being an unsaved sinner, then you will never see the worth and value of what Jesus did on the cross.
First of all, what is “sin?” In short, sin is a word that describes anything that fails to meet God’s standard of perfection. The Scriptures make it clear that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Sin is not just murder, rape, or robbery. Sin is failing to do the things we should and doing those things that we should not. Failing to do the things we should are called sins of omission, and doing those things that we should not are called sins of commission. In other words, when the Scriptures say “You shall not” and you do, that is a sin of commission. Equally, when the Scriptures say “You shall” and you do not, that is a sin of omission. Again, sin is failing to do what is required of us, and doing those things which God has prohibited.
Summarized, sin is the barrier between you and a satisfying relationship with God. Just as light and dark cannot exist together, neither can God and sin. Furthermore, sin is a barrier between us and other people. You need only to read the newspaper or listen to a news report to see how true this really is. We live in a time when terrorism abounds and when the world as we know it can be instantly obliterated by nuclear aggression. Finally, sin is the deprivation of good. As such, sin is characterized by a lack of something rather than being something in itself. As noted above, sin is a break in relationship to God and others rather than being an ontological substance. David Horton brings this concept to light and he is worth quoting at length:
“Evil is not a substance but a corruption of the good substances God made. Evil is like rust to a car or rot to a tree. It is a lack in good things, but it is not a thing in itself. Evil is like a wound in an arm or moth holes in a garment. It exists only in another but not in itself. . . To say that evil is not a thing, but a lack in things, is not to claim that it is not real. Evil is a real lack in good things, as the blind person know only too well. Evil is not a real substance, but it is a real privation in good substances. It is not an actual entity but a real corruption in an actual entity” (The Portable Seminary, David Horton. p. 360).
God made this world and all that is in it: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. … God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Gen. 1:1, 27). He created human beings to be like Him and to have unhindered fellowship with Him, and when His work of creation was finished he saw that it was “very good” (Gen. 1:31). Although the first people God created, Adam and Eve, had complete freedom to live in friendship and trust with him, they chose to rebel (Gen. 3:1–7). Because God designed that Adam would represent the entire human race, his sin was catastrophic not only for him but for us: “one trespass led to condemnation for all men” (Rom. 5:18). Our fellowship with God was broken. Instead of enjoying His holy pleasure, we instead face His righteous wrath. Through this sin, we all died spiritually (see Rom. 3:1–20; Eph. 2:1–10) and the entire world was affected. “The creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it” (Rom. 8:20). And we all individually sin against God in our own lives: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).
He Who Sins
If someone lies, what do you call him? A liar. If someone steals he is a thief. It concludes that the one who commits something is categorized from the act he committed. If someone sins, he is a sinner. But who has sinned? As quoted above, “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Everyone is a sinner. The Bible says that we are sinners in Romans 5:8, “But God shows his love for us, in that, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (emphasis mine). We are really sinners because we sin.