The term “sinner” seems to have been lost from the Christian vocabulary. It is a bit like the use of the “good man” terminology to which people would inevitably reply with the text where Jesus said that “none is good but God” which uses the same kind of condemnation which others use with “The heart is desperately wicked, who can understand it”. But they then neglect to mention that “Their hearts were cleansed by faith”. Jesus Himself also used the term “good man” in its proper context, that there is no problem in using the term good or bad as in its normal use, that there are good and bad people.

In the church it has not been unusual to hear people say “we are all miserable sinners saved by grace”. No wonder Paul said “wretched man that I am…” when this is all that supposed Christians can come up with. The King James version of the bible says that “sin is the transgression of the law” but this is wrong because it also says that before the law was given, sin was in the world. Other versions read it as “sin is lawlessness” which apparently is a better rendering of the matter.

There is a reason why the law described the condition of sin as being distinct from the condition of non-sinning, and that is so we can tell the difference between these two states. Jesus said to the woman, “GO AND SIN NO MORE” but the church has taught that it is impossible not to sin, and the reason it has taught this is because it is judging from law and not from grace, it has not changed the terms of reference which change the conditions under which the person operates, it is still referencing law and not Spirit.

Paul’s experience in Romans 7 is that of a sinner, not of a saint. The position of being a sinner is the position from which one needs to be rescued so that they cease in the main to sin, because they are now operating from a cleansed heart instead of an evil heart. “The good man out of the treasure of his heart speaks forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart”.

So it is indeed “by their fruit you shall know them”. The sinner naturally sins, the one released from the condition of sin does not naturally sin. John even says “He cannot sin, for the seed of God remains in him”. Or similar. Christ in the heart is the seed of God remaining, the Christian is following Christ, is led by the Spirit, under which condition it says “you will NOT fulfill the lust of the flesh”. Paul in Romans 7 is under the control of, and being led by, his flesh, not by the Spirit. He confesses he does evil, not good. He also confesses that it is the evil that dwells in him that does this against his own will, his will is completely powerless to do good, because the seed in him is that of the flesh, of evil, it is evil seed.

The point is that many of the church cannot differentiate between good and evil, between a sinner and a saint, and they just want to ‘tar them both with the same brush’ so as to allow sin and sinning to continue. So if you cannot tell the difference between the spiritual and the fleshly, the heavenly and the earthly, which is the whole point of Romans 7, then you should not be attempting to represent the Christian church to others, especially if you are supposed to be a spiritual leader of them.

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