Building Blocks

The Principle of Sinnership

Before we can appreciate the ‘good news’ that God has for us in Christ we must grasp the ‘bad news’ of our condition before Him and the urgency of our need for God’s remedy for it. It is pointless to know about a remedy if you cannot recognise the symptoms and source of the illness.

1. God has no alternative but to judge men for their wickedness, Rom. 1.18-25. This sad state began in the garden of Eden with one act of disobedience which developed into an avalanche of denial and defiance against all that God has clearly revealed about Himself, Rom. 1. 21-25. This course began with substituting the worship of God for that of representations of God as men imagined Him to be. This produced a drastic reduction of men’s ability to retain God as He had been revealed. Three times the passage says that man’s wilful refusal to respond to Him moved Him to give them over to sin, verses 24, 26, 28. This means that He allowed the results of their sinfulness to come upon them. This denial of God brought a social and moral decline that was impossible to stop. The state of separation from God was so complete that it was not possible for them to get back into fellowship with Him. Sinnership means that man is utterly lost in sin and is helpless to recover himself out of this condition.

2. When we first hear about our lost condition we generally feel that we are better than God says and that we have some goodness left in us. We show this when we condemn others and so present ourselves as being‘better’ than they. Within us there is some kind of moral clock that distinguishes between ‘right and wrong’, which we call our‘conscience’, Rom. 2. 14-15. But if we are going down the road of impressing God with our goodness we must realize that He expects nothing less than an absolutely ‘clean sheet’, Rom. 2. 6-10. Sadly, we have all sinned in some way or other and in the appointed time when God will judge all sin and punish the sinner, our own ‘standard of goodness’ will not be the measure of being righteous. God’s standards will make our sin evident. Sinnership means that there is no way back to God by being good.

3. The Jewish nation claims a special revelation from God and an unique relationship with Him. They see themselves as a privileged people and make a lot of their keeping of God’s law and their special ‘ritual mark’ of circumcision, Rom. 2. 25. This should mean that they would be as good as God could ever require people to be. Sadly, when they selfrighteously condemn the less privileged they show only too plainly that they have been just as guilty of failure, Rom. 2. 21-24. Their national history, detailed in the Old Testament, clearly shows them to have been incapable of doing the right thing even though they had the enlightenment they speak of. Their ritual mark of circumcision is only skin deep and worthless to preserve them from God’s condemnation, Rom. 2. 25-29. Sinnership declares the privileged Jew and the unprivileged Gentile to be equally guilty of sin before God.

4. In Romans 2 verses 6 to 11 we have a seemingly open invitation to doour best and God will accept us.However the very point Paul is making is that whoever we are the requirement is beyond us and failure to meet the standards is inevitable with its bitter consequences.Paul argues that ‘all have sinned and come short of the glory of God,’ Rom. 3. 9-18, 23.There is only one option open to us all before God and that is to accept this with regret and sorrow. This is called ‘repentance’. As far as the doctrine of sinnership is concerned in God’s sight we are all sinners.

5. Fruit on a plant shows us the nature of that plant. An apple tree, will produce apples and it is the same with us and sin. Being a sinner means that we commit sin because we have a nature that continually drives us to do wrong. So the doctrine of sinnership declares that we sin because we are sinners by nature. Adam didn’t just sin when he rebelled against God’s clear commandment;he became a sinner by nature and this nature he passed onto the whole of the human race, Rom. 6. 12, 18-20.


The doctrine of sinnership declares that we have all sinned and are all under sentence of death. This is not just the death of our bodies but the condemnation of God to a place of eternal punishment that God calls the ‘second death’, Rev. 20.14-15.