I am not a sinner. There! I said it! Let me say it again…I AM NOT A SINNER! I’ve been told all my life, even as a child, that I am a sinner, and that as such I can only be saved by the grace of Christ, but I’m declaring myself healed, saved, no longer captive to sin. According to traditional wisdom, I can be saved, but I’m still a sinner. The only way for me to stop being a sinner is to die, and I’m not even sure that’s the end of it! What’s up with that?!! I was driving along Highway 101 near Cabrillo on the coast north of Los Angeles when this thought hit me. My heart immediately swelled with recognition – the kind of undeniable recognition that comes when you have been granted a nugget of eternal truth – and I immediately wanted to shout it to the whole world. So, here I go…
I AM NOT A SINNER. I have sinned, yes (a lot, actually), but I am not a sinner. I know Paul said, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), but that’s in the past. If we want to quote Paul, he also said:
But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid.
For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his glory; why yet am I also judged as a sinner?
For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
These scriptures clearly indicate that Christ came to save sinners. They tell me that he does not foster sin; that once His truth has come to me, I am no longer judged a sinner; and that by His obedience, I can be made righteous. What did Isaiah have to say about it? How’s this familiar scripture from Isaiah 1:18:
Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
I perused through all the references to the word “sinner” in the New Testament, and never once did it say I have to stay a sinner my whole life. As a matter of fact, the vast majority of the references described one person, usually a Sadducee or a Pharisee, calling someone else a sinner. Christ Himself was typically accused of being a friend of sinners, but not their accuser. So, I just don’t want to be considered a sinner any more. I’m just not a sinner.
I am not a sinner, because I don’t feel like a sinner. I really don’t. My heart feels good and righteous and loving. I truly have no desire to sin or to do evil:
And it came to pass that when Ammon arose he also administered unto them, and also did all the servants of Lamoni; and they did all declare unto the people the selfsame thing—that their hearts had been changed; that they had no more desire to do evil.(Alma 19:33)
And, you know what, I’m not even going to hedge my declaration by saying something like “Now, I don’t mean I’m perfect…”. I’m just going to glory in the fact that I have been relieved, through the atonement of Jesus Christ, from the burden of sin! Sure, I get caught by surprise sometimes by a particular situation, and I don’t always react the way I would aspire to, but that certainly doesn’t make me a sinner, and I refuse to accept that label. Somehow, while I’ve been living for the last 20 years, I have been truly cleansed. My heart seeks constantly after righteousness. Sin is abhorrent to me. Righteousness, love, integrity, goodness – these are precious to me. I feel clean. I feel honorable. I feel loved.
I am not a sinner, and I think that telling people that they are sinners is a Great Lie, one perpetuated by Satan and his minions to minimize the power of Christ and to keep us from truly believing in Him, in His promises, and in ourselves. To continue to think of ourselves as sinners is to deny the power of the Holy Ghost and of the atonement. To do this is to deny Christ. Christ said He would cleanse us in His blood:
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
O then ye unbelieving, turn ye unto the Lord; cry mightily unto the Father in the name of Jesus, that perhaps ye may be found spotless, pure, fair, and white, having been cleansed by the blood of the Lamb, at that great and last day.
Now I say unto you that ye must repent, and be born again; for the Spirit saith if ye are not born again ye cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven; therefore come and be baptized unto repentance, that ye may be washed from your sins, that ye may have faith on the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world, who is mighty to save and to cleanse from all unrighteousness.
Why would we want to perpetuate the concept of ourselves as sinners? I have been baptized, and I have exercised “…faith on the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world, who is mighty to save and cleanse from all unrighteousness.” I testify of His cleansing power. In my case, it has been a process, but it has been as sure a process as the one experienced by Alma the Younger. Just as he was cleansed in 3 days, so I am cleansed after 20 years. No matter; I am at peace, and I am no longer a sinner.
I think I understand better now the rejoicing of Jacob, brother of Nephi, in 2 Nephi 9:19:
O the greatness of the mercy of our God, the Holy One of Israel! For he delivereth his saints from that awful monster the devil, and death, and hell, and that lake of fire and brimstone, which is endless torment.
Why do we need to wait until we’re dead to lay hold of the “mercy of our God, the Holy One of Israel”; to be delivered “from that awful monster the devil”? Well, I’m not going to wait, and I have been delivered. I refuse to continue to be labeled as anything other than a righteous man of God. I refuse to continue to submit to that awful monster, and to sell myself short just because I have not yet reached the perfection that is Christ.
I am not a sinner. I have been told very clearly by the scriptures and by His voice that my sins are forgiven; and even if I hadn’t been told that, I would still know it. Nephi, Enos, Alma, Nephi son of Helaman, and Moroni – even the Prophet Joseph – were all forgiven of their sins. Am I a great prophet like they are? Perhaps not, but I’m still not a sinner. I don’t have to be a president or a prophet or an apostle or a general authority to be completely cleansed and completely forgiven. The scriptures are clear:
Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more.
Do I glory in myself? Am I being prideful? I am most certainly not. No, I am shouting from the rooftops that you don’t have to be a sinner, either. This is not just about me or Enos or Joseph! This is a promise for all of us, and that is the message of these great prophets. The promise is for you, and until we accept this promise and its accompanying blessing, we can never approach the Savior, for no unclean thing can dwell with God (1 Nephi 10:21):
37 And I say unto you again that he cannot save them in their sins; for I cannot deny his word, and he hath said that no unclean thing can inherit the kingdom of heaven; therefore, how can ye be saved, except ye inherit the kingdom of heaven? Therefore, ye cannot be saved in your sins.
We cannot be saved in our sins. We must cast them off. We must no longer even think of ourselves as sinners.
Brethren and Sisters, as long as we wait for our redemption, we effectively deny Christ’s power to save. If you have truly repented, then be forgiven! Believe Him! Accept the cleansing power of His blood. Rejoice in your salvation – now! We were meant to live free of sin, not just to die free of sin. If we continue to consider ourselves sinners, we have not truly forsaken sin, and we will forever labor under its burden. This greatly limits our ability to have joy, which in turn denies God His glory.
I am not a sinner. I refuse to be a sinner. God doesn’t want me to be a sinner. I believe Christ promises, and in His cleansing power of forgiveness, freely (Oh, so freely – and lovingly) given. I so declare in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.