Recently I addressed in some comments this subject of who a Christian is – and who is not. As you know, we have had the tiring mantra of “we are all sinners” thrown at us as an excuse for abusers and as a club to force us to “show love and forgiveness.” We aren’t buying that line anymore. The Christian is not a sinner. We still sin, but “sinner” is no longer the title Scripture gives us. Saint, heir, child of God, beloved, holy ones – these are the terms the Bible uses.
Here are some comments (from this post) that I made earlier-
There are things that are true of every single Christian, no matter how new of a believer they are. For example:
- They are led by the Spirit (Romans 8). If they aren’t, they are not Christians (also Romans 8).
- They love and have commonality and fellowship with other genuine believers, in contrast to the false Christians of whom John says “they went out from us because they were not of us.” (1 John 2:19)
- They are characterized by a heart desire to do the things Paul describes as the fruit of the Holy Spirit (see Gal 5) and they are grieved at the things of the flesh.
- They have all been “taught” by the Spirit of Jesus (1John 2:27 But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie–just as it has taught you, abide in him). And one of the fundamental things the Spirit of Jesus has taught them is to love. Do abusers love? I don’t think so. Of course not.
- And then you have that whole body of Scripture in which Jesus teaches us about trees. Good trees bear good fruit. Bad trees bear bad fruit. You can tell what kind of tree they are by the fruit. Matthew 7:16-18 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? (17) So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. (18) A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit.
I could go on, but the point is that there are many things that are true of every Christian and we must take care not to be drawn into the false and common claim “but we are all sinners.” I say again, the Bible never calls Christians “sinners.” It gives many titles to us, but “sinner” is not one of them. A Christian will never continue to walk habitually in sin so as to be characterized by sin. If a person is so characterized, they are not a Christian.
This does not mean the Christian in this life is ever perfectly sanctified, but it does mean that there are many biblical standards that we must hold people to who claim to be Christians. A person who is habitually abusive to others and is not truly repentant about doing so is simply not a Christian.
When pastors or churches or counselors and others excuse the abuser’s wickedness with the get-out-of-jail-free card “we are all sinners,” they are denying God’s Word on the subject. Really, they are lowering the standard so low that essentially anyone can be a Christian. Obedience to Christ, they say, is not necessary. Their “free and gracious” salvation means that faith without works IS worthy of heaven (no matter what the Apostle James said). It is just such a “gospel” of universalism that is a plague in the churches today and largely explains why your abuser sits in a church pew, accepted by “the saints,” while you are outside the doors.