Who Are The Sinners?
Jesus said, "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing" (Luke 23:34). Even Stephen forgave those who sinned against him (Acts 7:60). Who are these sinners?
Jesus Christ said to the Pharisees, "If you were blind, you would have no sin" (John 9:41). In what way were they blind? They were blind to the true message of salvation through repentance (Matt. 21:32; 2 Peter 2:21).
A great many of the priests of the Jewish church were becoming obedient to the faith of that message (Acts 6:7). What faith? They were becoming obedient to Jesus Christ’s faith, the true faith once delivered to the prophets, to Moses and to Abraham (Jude 3). God’s servants, the prophets, preached this message. It is not generally known that there is only one true gospel, one truth, one Way, and Jesus came to reveal that Way by revealing what the Ways of the Father are and what His Will is (Eph. 4:4-6).
The Pharisees were not doing the Will of the Father. They were doing good works to glorify themselves, and not the Father (Matt. 5:16, 20; 6:1). They were not being converted and having their natures crushed by God (Rom. 16:20). They were not overcoming evil by doing good works for God (Rom. 12:21; 1 Peter 3:11; Rev. 2:26). They were not fighting the good fight of faith. They were not finishing the course or having a new nature (God’s nature) formed in them (Gal. 4:19). Jesus Christ’s true gospel reveals to us how to get rid of our old nature and have Christ’s nature formed in us.
Jesus said His Way is easy and pleasant (Matt. 11:30). If He had not come and spoken that true message, people would have had no sin. But after they heard how to overcome, they no longer had any excuse for their sin (John 15:22). Many of the Pharisees knew Jesus Christ came from God as a teacher (John 3:2). Thousands of the Jews believed the message and became zealous, while others became jealous (John 11:45, 48, 50; Acts 17:5; 21:20).
The Bible shows that the sinners are those who hear the true message of how to repent by overcoming evil through doing good and do not act upon it (Titus 1:16). God’s word refers to these sinners as goats, tares, bad fruit, bad fish, barren trees, wicked stumbling blocks and tasteless salt (Mal. 3:18; Matt. 3:10; 5:13; 12:33; 13:30, 38, 41-42, 48). Yes, anyone who knows and understands the true message and refuses to live it is a sinner (John 9:41; Matt. 7:24; Luke 6:46-47; James 4:17).