Are all people sinners?

God has put a hunger for Himself in every human heart to cause us to seek Him. Many Muslims think, however, that this hunger for God somehow is proof that people are basically good and pure. Instead, like a man starving for physical bread, all it shows is that we’re destitute and needy and spiritually empty. It shows that we’re not sufficient of ourselves and we recognize our own desperate inadequacy.

But the problem is that many people attempt to satisfy this spiritual hunger with other things—worldly success, materialism, the approval of society, or even their own attempts to know God. Some people even deny that such a hunger exists. Yet their spiritual hunger remains, because it can only be filled by finding Him. God is real, and deep inside our spirits we instinctively sense this. But this hunger for God, this desire to know Him, cannot by itself save us. Even believing that there is one God is not enough to save us. After all, even the demons know this to be true (James 2:19).

So yes, to answer the question, all people on earth are sinners. And this is not just a Christian teaching. Nearly 3,000 years ago, wise King Solomon observed:

For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not (Ecclesiastes 7:20 KJV).

It’s important to be able to honestly look at the world around you then look at yourself, and to admit that we are all selfish, imperfect beings. Yes, we all have a God-created desire to know Him, but at the same time, we also all have a tendency to go astray and to follow our own selfish will and inclinations. The Qur’an states that “the human soul is certainly prone to evil” (Sura 12:53), and the prophet Isaiah declares:

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way... (Isaiah 53:6 NKJV, emphasis added).

But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6 KJV).

Now, you may have very few obvious faults. You may be scrupulously honest and sincerely seek to do what is right most of the time, but let’s be clear: only God is perfectly good. All glory to Him! As the Bible says:

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23 KJV). 

Does your righteousness fall short of glorious standard of God? Of course! So can you admit that you’ve sinned at some points in your life—perhaps repeatedly in the same areas of weakness? If so, then you’re a sinner. You don’t need to be the worst person in the world to qualify as a sinner. You don’t need to be involved in blatant immorality and serious crimes. You just need to be an imperfect human being who goes astray from God’s commandments—even in your thoughts. As Jesus tells us:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:27–28 NIV).

We can do public acts of righteousness that can convince others that we’re good, but remember, “the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7 NIV). He knows all about our secret sins that we try so hard to keep others from knowing about. He even sees the sins that we’re not willing to admit to ourselves. There is no thought in our heart or unspoken word on our tongue that God is not aware of (Psalm 139:1–4). We can fool others and we can even fool ourselves, but we can’t conceal any sin from God.