At the very heart of the Gospel is the Christian’s reality of what the reformer Martin Luther coined – Simul Justus et Peccator. Simul – where we get the word simultaneous; at the same time. Justus – just; righteous. Et – and. Peccator – sinner. This Latin phrase captures two realities, two truths about the believer’s very essence – just and sinner at the same time.
Lest we think that in and of ourselves we are righteous – we are not! This righteousness is what Luther calls justitia alienum – an alien righteousness. Righteousness outside of us. It is only by imputation of the righteousness of Christ that we are counted, reckoned righteous when we put our faith in Him alone for our justification. (1 Corinthians 1:30,;2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 4:3,5,9,22)
“Yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.” – Galatians 2:16
And yes, in this side of eternity, we still err and not perfected yet (1 John 1:8; Philippians 3:12). However, what separates us from the world is our utter despair in ourselves when we fall short. That should be our natural bent as God abhors sin and so should we. The divided man as Paul dealt within himself is a good picture of what this real tension looks like (Romans 7:15-20).
Let me close with a quote as we contemplate on the finished work of Christ in this Passion Week.
“God lays our sins on Christ and punishes them in Him. And in Christ’s obedient death, God fulfills and vindicates His righteousness and imputes (credits) it to us. Our sin on Christ; His righteousness on us.” – John Piper, The Great Exchange
For the glory of God alone!