Salvation, Mercy, and Wrath.
If God saves us while we are yet sinners, it is because of his mercy.(Romans 5:8) Being sinners what could we do to merit favor with God, as if He were one to be compelled? We must also inquire as to what it is that we need saving from.
The punishment is what we say we fear, and rightly so. It comes from the almighty. We fear His just punishment, because His law was written on our hearts. We know that we are sinners. We only need to understand how dire our case is. This can only be accomplished through the exposition of our own personal sins.
What is a sinner? Is it a person that murders? Is it a liar? Is it a policeman? Is it an E.R. Doctor? Could it be me, or even you? The easy answer is that a sinner is someone that sins. Some would try to justify their works-righteousness religion by making a false distinction. They might tell you that a sinner is one that lives a lifestyle of sin. After all, everyone has sinned, but surely some of us are good? To them I say, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23 ) “There is none who does good, there is not even one.” (Romans 3:12) I would ask them, “How many people do I have to kill before I am a murderer?” If I rip a purse from a woman’s shoulder and run what does she yell? “Stop thief!” One time is all it takes. One lie makes a liar. One lustful thought makes an adulterer.
God judges not just what we do, but the thoughts of our inner most being.(1 Samuel 16:7) The thoughts bring forth the deeds. Dwelling on the sinful temptation enacts a powerful compulsion of the natural man to sin. So a sinner in thought is a sinner in deed.
Ah! But they protest, “There is a difference between thinking and doing!” I agree, but a little evil is only small when a human compares it to another humans righteousness. Oh! How it contrasts when compared to perfection. When seen against the flawless, holiness of God that small sin of your heart becomes an overwhelming witness against you on judgement day. Evidence of the sinners state of guilt. Condemning them to be punished for all eternity to satisfy the justice of a perfect, holy, and righteous God.
We rightly deserve to be killed, and to spend eternity in Hell as punishment. Once you realize the unattainable righteousness your sins are compared to, and the authority of the one whose laws you have transgressed you will grasp why it is good and just for you to be punished. Until then God will seem harsh, and punitive. Unless by His mercy He grants you grace you will never understand His; love, how unacceptable you are in sin, or what He saves you from.
So a sinner is every man, woman, and child ever born. Before them was Adam. The first man. The man through whom sin entered the world. So we are all in need of saving. Who can work such an amazing grace? God alone! Not any works of man.(Ephesians 2:8) No merit of our own. Jesus on the cross! His blood shed for wretches, fallen, and without any righteousness to save them. This so they must rely on His righteousness imputed to their account so they can be saved!