Are we sinners because we sin OR do we sin because we are sinners? Your answer will determine how much you think like Augustine, Father of the Catholic Church.
Consider the question with a word substitution based on 1John 3:4 (sin=transgression of the law)
Are we lawbreakers because we break the law or do we break the law because we are lawbreakers?
When we substitute the synonym for sin then the answer becomes very apparent….we are sinners because we sin. We are lawbreakers because we break the law.
I thought I should share this because someone made the following comment recently: >>”We are not sinners because we sin We sin because we are sinners.”<<
— I completely disagree with the statement. It is a very Augustinian view wherein we poor humans really have no say in whether we sin or not.
“Sin” isn’t some super powerful force that we can’t really overcome…it isn’t that “we just can’t help ourselves” and so we are slaves to commit sin. Paul wasn’t saying that in Roman’s 7 we were slaves to the bondage that comes with breaking the law. Once people see that Paul was referring back to the divorce that took place in Jer 3:8 between and the House of Israel then the solution appears: God divorced the House of Israel…which meant that they were in bondage with no hope because of the broken relationship. Even if they lived righteously, which they COULD do (see Zechariah and Elizabeth – Luke 1:6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.)
If you think that you sin because you were born a sinner then you will forever be a victim and will not be the overcomer that Jesus wants you to be. However, once you realize that you are a sinner because you sin (transgress the law) then you will do as Jesus commanded – go and sin no more. It is possible to overcome sin. It is possible to be like Zechariah and Elizabeth and to be blameless before God. It is possible to be like Cornelius or Job or Daniel, Enoch, or Noah. Once you realize that you can decide to not label yourself as a sinner then you can begin taking responsibility for your actions and yearn to live for righteousness.
I pray you will do that.