Every person in the world, if he will reason in himself and be honest, knows that he is a sinner. Today we say it in these words, "Nobody's perfect." That is well said and well understood by all reasonable people. In Christian circles we call these people sinners, and most people, whether saved or lost, will admit to their sinful condition.
But what kind of sinner are you? If you are just a person who knows that he has done many things wrong, you are just a common sinner, and this understanding will do little in way of change in your life except for those times when you may attempt to stop a habit or try to be a better person. These sinners understand their sinfulness from a completely human source. The mind is reasonable enough to verify the basic existence of man's depravity.
Before a person can be and will be saved, he must know that he is a sinner beyond the help of himself or his peers. He must know that he has sinned against God, and that his sin has touched an eternity of guilt and wickedness against a perfectly holy God. Therefore, he must have the knowledge that his sin is to be punished with an eternal debt, not just the feeble attempt to stop bad things and begin good ones.
The Apostle Paul is a great example of how sinful a repentant sinner becomes at the time he throws himself upon the work of Jesus Christ and depends desperately and completely upon the atoning work of Jesus Christ on the cross to pay for his sins.
Paul, because of his wicked sin of persecuting the church at Jerusalem, calls himself the "least of the apostles" (1 Cor. 15:13). Then in 1 Timothy 1:15 Paul says, This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Paul saw himself such a sinner that he considered himself to be dead--Romans 7:9 For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. He tells us in Ephesians 2:1, And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;
If you are not dead in your sins, then you are not the right kind of sinner. If you think only that you have made some mistakes or that you are not such a bad person or that you are as good as your neighbor, then you are not the right kind of sinner.
You must see yourself as a wicked sinner [wicked is what God calls sinners throughout the Bible]. The law of God (basically the ten commandments) have been written to show us how great sinners we are. When the law of God (his commandments) are applied to our lives, we see how much we come short of his glory. Remember Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
We also need to understand that all sins must be paid for. Ezekiel 18:20 The soul that sinneth, it shall die. Certainly Adam and Eve died physically, but sin brings eternal death, or damnation (judgment), Matt. 25:46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
The remedy for this death, of course, is faith in Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit, an acknowledging that you are a sinner, and the acceptance of the truth about Jesus Christ "that he is, and that he is the rewarder of them that diligently seek him" (Heb. 11:6). You must believe that Jesus died for your sins, was buried, and resurrected the third day especially for you personally, took your sins away and cast them as far as the east is from the west, and have a change of heart (a new heart, Ezekiel 18:31), by which Jesus is acknowledged as your Lord and Savior. Every step of your life from that time forward is led by the Spirit of God and by faith. Your salvation is fixed, and your faithfulness is expected. A totally depraved sinner produces a glorious saint of God.