Dear Jesus, I Am a Sinner

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Every time I lead a person to repeat those words, I am saying them to God on my own behalf.

I’ve led thousands of people in the sweet “repeat after me” sinner’s prayer: “Dear Jesus, I am a sinner.”

What the person praying with me doesn’t know is that every timeI lead a person to repeat those words, I am saying them to God on my own behalf. I am a sinner. No kidding, I really am—a really real sinner in utter, desperate need of God’s love and forgiveness.

Paul knew this too: “…Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the foremost” (1 Titus 1:15). The word for foremost in the Greek can mean ‘chief,’ or ‘worst’, but I don’t believe that is what Paul actually meant. Paul knew that he was a great sinner, a persecutor of Christians—even playing a part in murder!

He was a great sinner, but every time Paul uses this specific word, protos, he uses it to mean “first in time or rank.” Paul and all followers of Jesus are actually a new breed of sinner, a sinner now sinning in an age where freedom from sin is possible because of Jesus. We are like slaves who have been set free from the tyranny of an awful slave master only to return to do that master’s bidding again.

All of humanity is lost in the depravity of a soul sickness so pervasive that nothing on this side of heaven can save us or make us well. We are all sinners, but the Christ follower has been set free from the power of a depraved, soul-sickened heart. That is what makes my sin against God so terrible.

I sin while I’m free not to. This is what Paul meant by saying he was the chief, or the worst. I don’t know why this surprises me so often. I can go for some time without actually ‘feeling’ my inner …

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