Total Depravity

Totally Depravity OR Saint in Christ

Total Depravity

The New Testament epistles written to the churches reference sinners 13 times mostly  referring to those who are not yet saved and not in Christ Jesus
All 4 gospels reference sinners 31 times, but those are all referring to non-Christians.

As born again, Spirit filled, Christians we are often tempted to believe and/or accused by the Devil and his minions of being "dirty rotten sinners" or "once a sinner always a sinner".

The TRUTH is that born again Christians are never referred to as sinners in God's Word - the closest it gets is: we are Saints who occasionally sin and those occurrences are becoming less and less as we work through our own personal sanctification.  According to God we were sinners before conversion and we are saints after conversion.  We have become a NEW creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) with a new heart and a new Spirit who are beloved by God (Ephesians 5:1). 

Saint in Christ

The entire New Testiment references saints 62 times with 44 being in the epistles, which were written to the churches (Christians). Revelation has 13 references.

As a born again, Spirit filled, Christian I am encouraged by the Holy Spirit and Scripture to believe that I am

  • a Saint in Christ (Eph 1:1)
  • a child of God in Christ (John 1:12)
  • a new creation in Christ (2 Cor 5:17)
  • complete in Christ (Col 2:10)
  • free from condemnation in Christ (Rom 8:1-2) [including not being called or labled a sinner which is judging someone's character which is to be left to God.  See below.]
  • fathered by God and the evil one cannot touch me in Christ (1 John 5:18-20)
  • a minister of reconciliation for God in Christ (2 Cor 5:17-21)
  • and much more in Christ Jesus

Now this is key:   If the following is true

What we believe determines how we will act.

We will never consistently behave in a manner inconsistent with what we believe.

[Hence the absolute need to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2, 2 Corinthians 10:4-5)]

then which of the two views about myself, total depravity [once a sinner always a sinner] or saint in Christ, does my Heavenly Father want me to identify with and think (meditate) on?

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of respect, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if something is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8 NET)

Can we see ourselves as both?  (double-minded? James 1:5-8)

Is one a lie and the other the truth?

I recommend we choose to believe, whole heartedly, who we truly are in Christ, and never look back.  See: Giving Thanks for Who I Am in Christ 

So then, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; what is old has passed away—look, what is new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17)

For neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything; the only thing that matters is a new creation! (Galatians 6:15)

Based on this truth from Scripture can a Christian be partly a new creation and partly an old one?  Does this Scripture in any way imply that we can be both?

Remember, this is key: (1) we will act according to what we believe and (2) often what we believe is a lie and we won't even know it because that's the nature of deception.

According to God’s Word, I am a Saint, a Holy one, who is sinning less and less by the grace of God and my resolve to live in Christ by the Spirit more and more and by the flesh less and less.  I do not identify myself as a sinner because nowhere in the NT does my Heavenly Father identify me, His child, as a sinner nor does my Lord and Savior.   I confess and renounce my sins and the lies I have believed to my Heavenly Father.  Then by God’s gift of repentance (2 Corinthians 7:9-11) I become genuinely sorrowful for my sin and false beliefs and I have a complete change of mind regarding my sin and false beliefs.  This change of mind, this repentance, includes choosing to be transformed by the renewal of my mind, that by testing I may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:2) and by taking every thought [function of the mind and will] captive to obey Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).

Sinner Verses in the Epistles

Majority Apply to Non-Christians

Romans 5:8 
but God shows his love for us in that while we were [past tense] still sinners, Christ died for us.

Galatians 2:17 
But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found  [past tense] to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not!

1 Peter 4:18 
And “If the righteous [in Christ] is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner [not in Christ]?”

1 Timothy 1:8-10 
8 But we know that the law is good if someone uses it legitimately, 9 realizing that law is not intended for a righteous person [saved in Christ], but for lawless and rebellious people, for the ungodly and sinners [not yet in Christ], for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 10 sexually immoral people, practicing homosexuals, kidnappers, liars, perjurers—in fact, for any who live contrary to sound teaching.

James 4:4-10 
[This looks like James is also addressing non-Christians here.]
4 Adulterers, do you not know that friendship with the world means hostility toward God? So whoever decides to be the world’s friend makes himself God’s enemy. 5 Or do you think the scripture means nothing when it says, “The spirit [our spirit] that God caused to live within us has an envious yearning”? 6 But he gives greater grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but he gives grace to the humble.” 7 So submit to God. But resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners [not yet in Christ], and make your hearts pure, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn, and weep. Turn your laughter into mourning and your joy into despair. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you.

James 5:19-20 
19 My brothers and sisters [in Christ], if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone turns him back, 20 he should know that the one who turns a sinner [not yet in Christ] back [to Christ and salvation] from his wandering path will save that person’s soul from death [the second death (Revelation 2:11, 20:6; Matthew 10:28)] and will cover a multitude of sins [forgiveness of all sin, past, present and future, for those in Christ].

Jude 14-16 
[This looks like Jude is addressing non-Christians here.]
14 Now Enoch, the seventh in descent beginning with Adam, even prophesied of them, saying, “Look! The Lord is coming with thousands and thousands of his holy ones, 15 to execute judgment on all, and to convict every person of all their thoroughly ungodly deeds that they have committed, and of all the harsh words that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” 16 These people are grumblers and fault-finders who go wherever their desires lead them, and they give bombastic speeches, enchanting folks for their own gain.

Once a Sinner Always a Sinner?

The following verses do not apply to NT Christians who are new creations in Christ and who have received from God a new heart and a new Spirit.

Isaiah 64:6 
We are all like one who is unclean, all our so-called righteous acts are like a menstrual rag in your sight. We all wither like a leaf; our sins carry us away like the wind.

Psalm 14:1-3
1 Fools say to themselves, “There is no God.”
They sin and commit evil deeds;
none of them does what is right.
2 The Lord looks down from heaven at the human race,
to see if there is anyone who is wise and seeks God.
3 Everyone rejects God;
they are all morally corrupt.
None of them does what is right,
not even one. 

Romans 3:9-11 [quote of Psalm 14:1-3]
9 What then? Are we better off? Certainly not, for we have already charged that Jews and Greeks alike are all under sin, 10 just as it is written: 
“There is no one righteous, not even one,
11 there is no one who understands,
there is no one who seeks God.”

Character Judgment

Calling a Christian a sinner, or any other person for that matter, is pronouncing judgement on them and is an attack on their character.  We can say they committed a sin and we can point out that sin to them but we cannot identify them as a sinner – that’s God’s domain.  This includes statements like: “We are all sinners.” or “Once a sinner always a sinner.”

Some Examples of Character Judgments

  • You are an adulterer
  • You are a liar
  • You are a thief
  • You are a fornicator
  • You are a sinner

Disciplining vs Judging

Discipline is an issue of confronting observed behavior—that which you have personally witnessed (Galatians 6:1); judgment is an issue of character. We are instructed to confront others concerning sins we have observed, but we are not allowed to judge their character (Matthew 7:1; Romans 14:13). Disciplining is our responsibility; judging character is God's responsibility.

For example, imagine that you just caught your child telling a lie. "You're a liar," you say to him. That's judgment, an attack on his character. But if you say, "Son, you just told a lie," that's discipline. You're holding him accountable based on an observed behavior.

Godly Discipline

Galatians 6:1 
Brothers and sisters, if a person is discovered in some sin, you who are spiritual restore such a person in a spirit of gentleness. Pay close attention to yourselves, so that you are not tempted too.

Character Judgment

Matthew 7:1
Do not judge so that you will not be judged.

James 4:12 
But there is only one who is lawgiver and judge—the one who is able to save and destroy. On the other hand, who are you to judge your neighbor?

Romans 14:4,13 
4 Who are you to pass judgment on another’s servant? Before his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
13 Therefore we must not pass judgment on one another, but rather determine never to place an obstacle or a trap before a brother or sister.

Positive Things to Think On...

4 ...he has bestowed on us his precious and most magnificent promises, so that by means of what was promised you may become partakers of the divine nature, after escaping the worldly corruption that is produced by evil desire5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith excellence, to excellence, knowledge6 to knowledge, self-control; to self-control, perseverance; to perseverance, godliness7 to godliness, brotherly affection; to brotherly affection, unselfish love8 For if these things are really yours and are continually increasing, they will keep you from becoming ineffective and unproductive in your pursuit of knowing our Lord Jesus Christ more intimately9 But concerning the one who lacks such things—he is blind. That is to say, he is nearsighted, since he has forgotten about the cleansing of his past sins. (2 Peter 1:1-11 NET)


22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Now those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also behave in accordance with the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-25 NET)


12 I am writing to you, little children, that your sins have been forgiven because of his name. 13 I am writing to you, fathers, that you have known him who has been from the beginning. I am writing to you, young people, that you have conquered the evil one. 14 I have written to you, children, that you have known the Father. I have written to you, fathers, that you have known him who has been from the beginning. I have written to you, young people, that you are strong, and the word of God resides in you, and you have conquered the evil one. (1 John 2:12-14 NET)


So then, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; what is old has passed away—look, what is new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Based on this truth from Scripture can a Christian be partly a new creation and partly an old one?  Does this Scripture in any way imply that we can be both?

Remember, this is key: (1) we will act according to what we believe and (2) often what we believe is a lie and we won't even know it because that's the nature of deception.


  1. Matthew 27:52

And tombs were opened, and the bodies of many saints who had died were raised.

  1. Acts 9:13

But Ananias replied, “Lord, I have heard from many people about this man, how much harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem,

  1. Acts 9:32

Now as Peter was traveling around from place to place, he also came down to the saints who lived in Lydda.

  1. Acts 9:41

He gave her his hand and helped her get up. Then he called the saints and widows and presented her alive.

  1. Acts 26:10

And that is what I did in Jerusalem: Not only did I lock up many of the saints in prisons by the authority I received from the chief priests, but I also cast my vote against them when they were sentenced to death.

  1. Romans 1:7

To all those loved by God in Rome, called to be saints: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!

  1. Romans 8:27

And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes on behalf of the saints according to God’s will.

  1. Romans 12:13

Contribute to the needs of the saints, pursue hospitality.

  1. Romans 15:25

But now I go to Jerusalem to minister to the saints.

  1. Romans 15:26

For Macedonia and Achaia are pleased to make some contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem.

  1. Romans 15:27

For they were pleased to do this, and indeed they are indebted to the Jerusalem saints. For if the Gentiles have shared in their spiritual things, they are obligated also to minister to them in material things.

  1. Romans 15:31

Pray that I may be rescued from those who are disobedient in Judea and that my ministry in Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints,

  1. Romans 16:2

so that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints and provide her with whatever help she may need from you, for she has been a great help to many, including me.

  1. 1 Corinthians 1:2

to the church of God that is in Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, and called to be saints, with all those in every place who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours.

  1. 1 Corinthians 6:1

When any of you has a legal dispute with another, does he dare go to court before the unrighteous rather than before the saints?

  1. 1 Corinthians 6:2

Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you not competent to settle trivial suits?

  1. 1 Corinthians 14:33

the saints,

  1. 1 Corinthians 16:1

With regard to the collection for the saints, please follow the directions that I gave to the churches of Galatia:

  1. 1 Corinthians 16:15

Now, brothers and sisters, you know about the household of Stephanus, that as the first converts of Achaia, they devoted themselves to ministry for the saints. I urge you

  1. 2 Corinthians 1:1

From Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, to the church of God that is in Corinth, with all the saints who are in all Achaia.

  1. 2 Corinthians 8:1

Now we make known to you, brothers and sisters, the grace of God given to the churches of Macedonia,

  1. 2 Corinthians 8:4

begging us with great earnestness for the blessing and fellowship of helping the saints.

  1. 2 Corinthians 9:1

For it is not necessary for me to write you about this service to the saints,

  1. 2 Corinthians 9:12

because the service of this ministry is not only providing for the needs of the saints but is also overflowing with many thanks to God.

  1. 2 Corinthians 13:12

Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you.

  1. Ephesians 1:1

From Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints [in Ephesus], the faithful in Christ Jesus.

  1. Ephesians 1:15

For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints,

  1. Ephesians 1:18

—since the eyes of your heart have been enlightened—so that you can know what is the hope of his calling, what is the wealth of his glorious inheritance in the saints,

  1. Ephesians 2:19

So then you are no longer foreigners and noncitizens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of God’s household,

  1. Ephesians 3:8

To me—less than the least of all the saints—this grace was given, to proclaim to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ

  1. Ephesians 3:18

you will be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,

  1. Ephesians 4:12

to equip the saints for the work of ministry, that is, to build up the body of Christ,

  1. Ephesians 5:3

But among you there must not be either sexual immorality, impurity of any kind, or greed, as these are not fitting for the saints.

  1. Ephesians 6:18

With every prayer and petition, pray at all times in the Spirit, and to this end be alert, with all perseverance and petitions for all the saints.

  1. Philippians 1:1

From Paul and Timothy, slaves of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the overseers and deacons.

  1. Philippians 4:21

Give greetings to all the saints in Christ Jesus. The brothers with me here send greetings.

  1. Philippians 4:22

All the saints greet you, especially those who belong to Caesar’s household.

  1. Colossians 1:2

to the saints, the faithful brothers and sisters in Christ, at Colossae. Grace and peace to you from God our Father!

  1. Colossians 1:4

since we heard about your faith in Christ Jesus and the love that you have for all the saints.

  1. Colossians 1:12

giving thanks to the Father who has qualified you to share in the saints’ inheritance in the light.

  1. Colossians 1:26

that is, the mystery that has been kept hidden from ages and generations, but has now been revealed to his saints.

  1. 1 Thessalonians 3:13

so that your hearts are strengthened in holiness to be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.

  1. 2 Thessalonians 1:10

when he comes to be glorified among his saints and admired on that day among all who have believed—and you did in fact believe our testimony.

  1. 1 Timothy 5:10

and has a reputation for good works: as one who has raised children, practiced hospitality, washed the feet of the saints, helped those in distress—as one who has exhibited all kinds of good works.

  1. Philemon 1:5

because I hear of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints.

  1. Philemon 1:7

I have had great joy and encouragement because of your love, for the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you, brother.

  1. Hebrews 6:10

For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love you have demonstrated for his name, in having served and continuing to serve the saints.

  1. Hebrews 13:24

Greetings to all your leaders and all the saints. Those from Italy send you greetings.

  1. Jude 1:3

Dear friends, although I have been eager to write to you about our common salvation, I now feel compelled instead to write to encourage you to contend earnestly for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.

  1. Revelation 5:8

and when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders threw themselves to the ground before the Lamb. Each of them had a harp and golden bowls full of incense (which are the prayers of the saints).

  1. Revelation 8:3

Another angel holding a golden censer came and was stationed at the altar. A large amount of incense was given to him to offer up, with the prayers of all the saints, on the golden altar that is before the throne.

  1. Revelation 8:4

The smoke coming from the incense, along with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel’s hand.

  1. Revelation 11:18

The nations were enraged, but your wrath has come, and the time has come for the dead to be judged, and the time has come to give to your servants, the prophets, their reward, as well as to the saints and to those who revere your name, both small and great, and the time has come to destroy those who destroy the earth.”

  1. Revelation 13:7

The beast was permitted to go to war against the saints and conquer them. He was given ruling authority over every tribe, people, language, and nation,

  1. Revelation 13:10

If anyone is meant for captivity, into captivity he will go. If anyone is to be killed by the sword, then by the sword he must be killed. This requires steadfast endurance and faith from the saints.

  1. Revelation 14:12

This requires the steadfast endurance of the saints—those who obey God’s commandments and hold to their faith in Jesus.

  1. Revelation 16:6

because they poured out the blood of your saints and prophets, so you have given them blood to drink. They got what they deserved!”

  1. Revelation 17:6

I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of the saints and the blood of those who testified to Jesus. I was greatly astounded when I saw her.

  1. Revelation 18:20

(Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you saints and apostles and prophets, for God has pronounced judgment against her on your behalf!)

  1. Revelation 18:24

The blood of the saints and prophets was found in her, along with the blood of all those who had been killed on the earth.”

  1. Revelation 19:8

She was permitted to be dressed in bright, clean, fine linen” (for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints).

  1. Revelation 20:9

They went up on the broad plain of the earth and encircled the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and devoured them completely.



Link to The Children's Bread PDF: "Giving Thanks for Who I Am in Christ"

Webpage version of the above PDF: Giving Thanks for Who I Am in Christ

Spiritual Growth  2 Peter 1:5-8 Overlaid on 1 John 2:12-14