Nov

01

2012

Tullian Tchividjian|6:34 am CT

Simultaneously Righteous And A Sinner?

My good friend Jono Linebaugh (New Testament Professor at Knox Theological Seminary and content manager for LIBERATE) wrote a thoughtful post on Martin Luther’s famous phrase Simul iustus et peccator–simultaneously justified and a sinner (you can read it here). One reader questioned whether “sinner” is an appropriate term to describe Christian identity. This is an important question. After all, Paul writes to sinful Christians and calls them “saints.” Once God saves us, aren’t we new creatures?

Jono wrote a clarifying explanation of Luther’s phrase–explaining what is and what is not meant that the Christian is “at the same time righteous and sinner.”

I’m posting his response here.

“Sinner” is an identity word and is misapplied if it’s used to name the Christian’s identity—their person. Before God, identity is not a both/and (sinner and righteous); it is an either/or (sinner or righteous). The basis of this difference is not anthropological (what I do or don’t do). It is strictly and solely Christological: to be in Christ is to be righteous before God.

Paul does something unprecedented (in comparison with early Jewish literature) in that he designates all people outside Christ with the identity “sinner” (Rom 5:8, for example). But even more novel and scandalous is his corresponding claim that it is precisely “sinners” who are identified as “righteous” in Christ (Rom 3:23-24). So, to borrow an expression from a Reformation confession, while the old Adam is a “stubborn, recalcitrant donkey,” this does not define Christian identity before God.

In light of this, it’s important to clarify that simul iustus et peccator is NOT a description of our Christian identity; it is NOT a description of who we are before God. What it is, however, is a description of the both/and that characterizes the Christian life as lived.

The pastoral payoff here is that it enables us to affirm (without crossing our fingers) that in Christ—at the level of identity—the Christian is 100% righteous before God while at the same time recognizing the persistence of sin. If we don’t speak in terms of two total states (100% righteous in Christ and 100% sinful in ourselves) corresponding to the co-existence of two times (the old age and the new creation) then the undeniable reality of ongoing sin leads to the qualification of our identity in Christ: the existence of some sin must mean that one is not totally righteous. This is acid at the very foundation of the peace we have with God on the other side of justification. To say simul iustus et peccator is therefore not to say that “sinner” is our identity; it is to say that while we remain sinful in ourselves we are, in Christ, totally righteous.

This pastoral pattern is reflected in 1 Corinthians. In themselves, the Corinthians are anything but sanctified saints: they are quarreling and creating factions around various Christian leaders; they are taking one another to court; sexual immorality is rampant; the bodily resurrection is being denied; worship is chaotic. But writing to these people in the face of this sin, Paul addresses them as “those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints” (1 Cor 1:2). The possibility of this kind of speech is anchored in a distinction between who the Corinthians are in themselves and who they are in Christ. This confident and creative “calling”—this naming of a person in terms of who they are in Christ—is the catalyst of change. To call a person by their “new name” is to summon them away from faith in themselves–away from the sin and death that defines the old age–and to summon them to faith in Christ, to the salvation and status that defines the new creation and the Christian as one whose identity is “hid with God in Christ.”

39 Comments

  1. The fact that this fact is even up for debate among Christians lately is surprising. We truly have too low a view of God’s law and his holiness and too high a view of ourselves.

  2. Tullian,
    In light of this, it’s important to clarify that simul iustus et peccator is NOT a description of our Christian identity; it is NOT a description of who we are before God. What it is, however, is a description of the both/and that characterizes the Christian life as lived. I think this sums it up nicely. Even though there is now no condemnation…when God looks upon his elect he sees his son therefore not identifying us as sinners (or unbelievers) but children of God that sins while yet in this fleshly body. The Spirit against the body and the body against the flesh. Or Jacob against Esau and Esau against Jacob or as one writer puts it it’s the Jacob in us (the goodness of God or the Spirit)that wars against the Esau in us evil or the fallen flesh but nonetheless it is know longer I but Christ who lives in me.

  3. Thanks Tullian
    This post addresses is very fundamental question, thanks for repeatedly hitting this point. What I realize afresh every time I think about it is that my life is characterized by the trace of all my sins. I have no way on my own to change this trace at all. In this trace I see my 100% sinfulness. Without the grace of God I am condemned. What I wanted to emphasize in my reply is this 100% sinfulness, because it takes from me every hope to improve on myself. I can only survive this through the grace of God. For God, in Christ, I am 100% righteous.

  4. Guys, the question is, why does Paul say twice in four verses (Rom 7:17-20), “It is no longer I who sins, but sin that dwells in me.” ? And why does Paul repeatedly indicate throughout Romans 6-8 that the problem is NOT with my nature, but with “this BODY of sin……BODY of death!” ?? Further, why, in 8:23 does Paul say that we are waiting for our adoption as sons, “…that is, the redemption of our [what?] BODY!” ?? I’m not making this up. Bottom line question is, do we really understand the nature of the saint/new creation/inner man? And do we know what the flesh is?

  5. I think Scott’s question is the same as mine. What does it mean to be regenerated/a new Christian with God’s law written on my heart? I have always thought that becoming a Christian meant that my nature is changed, that something actually happened inside me. From my experience that is true.

  6. Scot Leonard,
    Bottom line question is, do we really understand the nature of the saint/new creation/inner man? And do we know what the flesh is? Scot if you don’t know the answers to these questions I would have to ask myself am I really a Christian.Are we not to be ready held accountable to those who are naive, If we can’t as Christians answer these basic questions then maybe one should examine himself…

  7. Mitchell Hammonds

    We are righteous in Christ = Saint

    We still sin daily = sinner

    I know I’m a saint by faith in Christ… His promise that it is so. Not because I actually “experience” it by way of feelings or seeing it.

    Most view the Christian life internally by experience… the change inside of me… I feel your presence in this place… this is why I abandoned American Christianity. It completely typifies the Christian life of abstractions qualified by someone’s standard who appears to “have arrived” in some great measure regardless of how short of perfect they admit they really are.
    A church of the reformation tradition understands the basic fact of “Law and Gospel” in the life of all Believers.

  8. We are sinners in fact.

    We are righteous by faith.

    “We are to CONSIDER ourselves dead to sin.”

    How can we do that if we are still sinning? Because in our Baptisms (Romans 6), God put us (the old sinner) to death with Christ. And He raises us (in that same Baptism) to new life in Christ. (also Romans 6)

    It’s quite liberating. Liberty from the ‘having to prove by what I do, say, feel, or think, religious project that 95% of the world’s Christians are on.

    “For freedom Christ has set us free.”

    And the chorus of crickets reveals that the Reformation never made it to America. (in any appreciable way)

  9. Scott Leonard,

    I have no idea what James said/meant in response to your comment (it sounded like he was questioning your salvation), but we should talk. I agree completely with what you said about the new identity. Here’s a link to my blog where you can read the “Christian Dissociative Identity” posts. blog.godsmystery.com

  10. Pastor Tullian
    thank you for continually posting and reposting the gospel message. We need (I need) to hear it over and over again. I believe you reclarified the Saint/sinner dillema. God calls us a Saint in spite of ourselves only in Christ. Otherwise, I am only a Saint in name because of my sin? That’s Grace.

  11. @ STeve
    we are righteous by faith alone… that is the crux of the matter. And that is why I also believe Baptism is important, not just a suggestion.

  12. Paul ST Jean,

    You are so right, my friend.

    More than that…it is a commandment. Jesus ordered us to Baptize and to be Baptized.

    _

    When people have a proper understanding of the external Word…then they are less apt to get into all these self-focused religious projects that place themselves back at the center, and that move the finished work of the Cross to the periphery.

  13. Tyler,
    Again it never ceases to amaze me how something that’s said according to how one receives it can be misinterpreted. There are many dispositional ways a comment can be viewed and expressed. One will see it as aggressive and may be offended, one may see it expressed with a question mark, one may see it expressed with low tones and with meekness and so on. Depending on the individual one could miss the writers intention or the writers dispositional frame of thought and could take it out of context. That would explain why one might have know idea what one is implying. I should of used better punctuation that usually gets me in trouble. Periods where they shouldn’t be etc can really make a mess of things. I will exercise better grammar and punctuations in the future. I apologize for any misleading.

  14. still seeking TRUTH daily

    Inching along here…….

    So, what if Paul had returned to Corinth 20 years later and saw all the same things happening? Would he then have said, “Ok, you guys must not be Christians!”

    This comment, above, ” ‘having to prove by what I do, say, feel, or think, ” threw me a bit. Of course, in the flesh, we ought not to try to ‘prove’ ourselves to God or others. And yet, James (!) does say that true faith WILL BE ACCOMPANIED BY GOOD WORKS. So, if there are no good works to accompany one’s faith eventually….then?

    Thanks for the good discussion.
    Where can I find the whole text of what Luther wrote, in English?
    I appreciate Luther’s contribution OBVIOUSLY but wonder sometimes that we take everything he says as divine sometimes. He was a great MAN but he did say quite a bit that was wrong (ie his harsh comments about the Jews?) Just saying that we need to be careful when we say “Calvin” or “Luther” that we not make them idols, perhaps. Just a thought. Ugh. Idols at every turn it seems!

    Thanks again for those who contribute here!
    STILL SEEKING TRUTH daily

  15. Tyler, we will definitely talk! Steve, the word “reckon” in Romans 6 simply means to add it up! It is in accounting term. Everything happens through faith. But when we exercised saving faith we were regenerated and we beca me brand new creatures and that is why Paul says twice within 4 verses “it is no longer I who sins. Look back in detail at my original question and deal with the text and the issues there. I am amazed at the silence when it comes to thoroughly exegeting Romans 6-8. If you want to see who does it thoroughly, look at D Martin Lloyd Jones, William R Newell and John MacArthur. They were not afraid to let Paul say what he says!

  16. I love what John MacArthur said regarding the question of why I still send if I am a Christian. He said it is simply due to the fact that I am a new creature living in a dead, unsaved body! Spend time fearlessly memorizing and meditating on Romans 6 through 8 and you will make the same statement. And it is not gnostici sm. Again, answer my specific original questions above.

  17. Another great question is what does it mean to be in Christ? If you want to say that that is only a positional category or a standing in “God’s eyes,” then I am afraid you will have to say the same thing about Christ in you! Guys, we are literally in Christ. We just don’t know what it means. We don’t know what reality is. After all, how could I really be in Christ when I am sitting here on planet earth? Paul explains it if you are willing to listen and to let him say what he says.

  18. Sorry….previous post should have said, “I love what John MacArthur said regarding the question of why I still SIN….”

  19. Scott,
    Here’s my email address so you can contact me. tyler.wentzel@gmail.com I would be very pleased to talk with you more about this, as it appears you have discovered the same things I have, and constantly point back to the foundation of Romans 6-8, as I do.

  20. The above picture, by the way, of the trembling man holding his “SIN” sign is extremely unbiblical in light of the way God looks at us. If all we do is hide behind the cross of Christ (which, by the way, it’s not the cross that gives us our righteousness, it’s Jesus’ resurrection, Romans 4:25), why should God save us at all? That is, if he only wishes to look at the righteousness of Christ, why should he save anyone? No, the goal of God in saving us was not to let us cower and whimper behind the finished work of Christ, it was for us to BELIEVE what Jesus did for us on the cross and at his resurrection, and then be joined to Christ–as partaker of his righteousness and true holiness (Eph. 4:24). Therefore, because we’re placed INTO Christ, God can look upon us without seeing a cowering, sinful person behind his righteousness. He can look at Christ and see US–”for we are members of his body, of his flesh and of his bones” (Eph. 5:30). “In whom we have BOLDNESS and ACCESS with CONFIDENCE by the faith of him” (Eph. 3:12).

  21. “The Sword of the Spirit” Christians who would work with such people must have both a knowledge of the problems as they appear to the mind of the thinking unbeliever and a patient willingness to point out in the Word of God whatever of answer there is for the natural man. At the same time, we must remember that “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (I Corinthians 2:14). However, since we know that truth does not change and that God’s method of dealing with souls is ever the same, we must be faithful in our wielding of the slaying sword of the Spirit. Thus only can we meet their real need. God never raised any soul to life through the Gospel without first slaying him with the law. With honest skeptics, for such often fall into this class, we should be firm and fearless while we speak the truth in love. Our burden should be: a holy God declares that all are less perfect than He, and therefore sinners; that the wages of sin is eternal death; but
    that He has provided a Sin-bearer in Christ who has fully met every demand of divine justice against the sinner. It is the entrance of such a word that gives light. No man has ever been argued into salvation; no man has ever been led to Christ through human wisdom. Only the flat presentation of human need and
    Christ’s sufficiency will do it. “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts” (Zechariah 4:6).

  22. Tyler,
    Sounds like an echo from my statement above. But nonetheless M.H. is Right. Look how many times The Apostles sinned repeatedly. Remember when Satan came to Jesus and asked Jesus permission to sift peter. Paul, the things I will not to do I do…Or the one that always hits me the hardest because this teacher was so dramatic It’s been a burnt impression since. As you know Phillip was with Jesus almost from the outset and three years down the road one day when they were all just hangin out Phillip says to Jesus, Lord! (like it was just routine conversation) show us the Father that we may believe. This is a real emotional point for me Jesus must have fell back in his chair, can you amagine!! how devastating, the teacher says that Jesus says Oh! Peter you don’t know by now…and are we not like that today even David said Lord, against you you only have I sinned against…what you say is true Tyler and what M.H. says is true only to be summed up what Tullian says – In light of this, it’s important to clarify that simul iustus et peccator is NOT a description of our Christian identity; it is NOT a description of who we are before God. What it is, however, is a description of the both/and that characterizes the Christian life as lived. I think this is a sound declaration.

  23. Amen, Tyler. We have far more than a justified standing before God. We were literally born a second time. When Paul said, “if any man be IN CHRIST, he is a new creature, old things passed away, new things have come,” he meant just that. We are new creatures living in an unredeemed body, where the law of sin resides “in my members.” If Jesus and Paul talk in the same breath of Christ in us and we in Christ, then guess what? I am IN Christ just as much as He is IN me. Some one invented a nonbiblical word to deal with their shock and unbelief regarding Paul’s statements. Guess what that word is: “positional!” Even though Paul says twice in for verses that it is no longer I who sins, but sin that dwells in me, it can’t be true, therefore it must be true POSITIONALLY! That is actually sinning down Paul AND Christ’s glorious statements about our union with Christ.

  24. James, I agree with you that there are many people who need to be encouraged that they are not alone in falling into sin. And I know Tyler would agree that these truths understood properly never imply that we get to a place where we cannot sin. So we are new creatures who are literally in Christ, as He is literally in us, but we live in unredeemed bodies wherin lies the law of sin. That is the flesh.

  25. [...] Even though Rick gives some theological lip service to the sin that continues to plague the redeemed, his tenor and tone downplay the seriousness of our ongoing corruption and the Christians desperate need of God’s grace. He seems to suffer from an over-realized eschatology when it comes to the the doctrine of sanctification. This is extremely dangerous for the reason that Ligon Duncan points out above: “Misunderstanding or underestimating the continuing corruption in the believer leaves the Christian unprepared for the warfare of sanctification and leads to a variety of spiritual problems.” Missing from Rick’s perspective is the unique dynamic explained here. [...]

  26. [...] Even though Rick gives some theological lip service to the sin that continues to plague the redeemed, his tenor and tone downplay the seriousness of our ongoing corruption and the Christians desperate need of God’s grace. He seems to suffer from an over-realized eschatology when it comes to the the doctrine of sanctification. This is extremely dangerous for the reason that Ligon Duncan points out above: “Misunderstanding or underestimating the continuing corruption in the believer leaves the Christian unprepared for the warfare of sanctification and leads to a variety of spiritual problems.” Missing from Rick’s perspective is the unique dynamic explained here. [...]

  27. [...] Even though Rick gives some theological lip service to the sin that continues to plague the redeemed, his tenor and tone downplay the seriousness of our ongoing corruption and the Christians desperate need of God’s grace. He seems to suffer from an over-realized eschatology when it comes to the the doctrine of sanctification. This is extremely dangerous for the reason that Ligon Duncan points out above: “Misunderstanding or underestimating the continuing corruption in the believer leaves the Christian unprepared for the warfare of sanctification and leads to a variety of spiritual problems.” Missing from Rick’s perspective is the unique dynamic explained here. [...]

  28. [...] how Christ would views us, rather it is a recognition that as a Christian or saint, we still sin. Tullian Tchividjian explains, “[I]t’s important to clarify that simul iustus et peccator is NOT a description of our [...]

  29. In the Gospels the term sinner is used in two ways – to describe the individual who is opposed to God and His will, and by Jesus’ opponents to describe those outside of their group to whom Jesus offers the gospel of salvation. From the standpoint of Jesus, a person was a sinner as long as he or she remained opposed to the will of God. (Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels.)

    1 Peter 4:18 And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?

    Psalm 1:1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; 2 but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. 3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. 4 The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. 5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; 6 for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

  30. If saints are nothing but sinners in disguise, then we are no better or no different than the rest of the religions. A sinner is a sinner and a saint is a saint. The new covenant, which we call the New Testament, continually affirms this truth over and over. We are not sinners saved by grace. We were sinners saved by grace.
    From the standpoint of Jesus, a person was a sinner as long as he or she remained opposed to the will of God.

    Romans 5:8 But God commendeth His own love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

    1 Peter 4:18 And if the righteous is scarcely saved, where shall the ungodly and sinner appear?

    ‘sinners’ (a term used in Scripture only of the unregenerate – John F. MacArthur, The Gospel According to Jesus, pg. 250)

  31. hamartōlos – sinner

    Thayer Definition:
    1) devoted to sin, a sinner 1a) not free from sin 1b) pre-eminently sinful, especially wicked.

    From the standpoint of Jesus, a person was a sinner as long as he or she remained opposed to the will of God. (Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels).

    Sinners is a term used in Scripture only of the unregenerate – John F. MacArthur, The Gospel According to Jesus, pg. 250.

    Psalm 1:1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; 2 but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. 3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. 4 The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. 5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; 6 for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

    1Peter 4:18 And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?

    Luke 6:32-34 For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.

  32. MacArthur does a great job of faithfully pointing out what many of my reformed brothers are reluctant to embrace: Christians are, by nature, new creatures, righteous in Christ–And that is where they are–IN CHRIST. This is why Paul makes unpopular statements, like “It is no longer I who sins” (twice in Romans 7) and “You are not IN the flesh, but IN the Spirit)–Romans 8:9. MacArthur says the only reason Christians sin is that they are new creatures living in dead bodies. We are going to witness a transition, where more and more biblical thinkers understand how far grace extends, and they allow Paul to mean what he says. The reality of being IN Christ is much more than most have acknowledged. The balance on this is that we still must understand that the Christian is undergoing a lifelong process of sanctification, that he is still responsible for his sinning, that he can, in fact, displease God when he walks after the flesh, and that there is a distinction between the fully righteous inner man and the being-sanctified soul!

  33. I’m going to live out who I believe I am. If I think I’m a dirty rotten sinner at the core, then I’m going to live that out. If I believe I’m a forgiven, cleansed, righteous saint, I’m going to live that out. So which identity do we have? Unfortunately, it seems like the popular answer to that question is “both”. Many Christian that I know seem satisfied to live out a false duality as sinner and saint. We might think it is humble to see ourselves as dirty, rotten sinners with wicked hearts before God. I did for 20 years. But true humility is saying the same as God says about us, no more no less. God says that we become His righteousness. He claims to have given us a new heart, and His own Spirit living in us. Given these claims, is it really humble (or accurate) to think of ourselves as dirty rotten sinners with wicked hearts that want to sin? No! Paul tells us that our old self died and that we became obedient from the heart. Yes, we still sin when we are enticed by the flesh, but we are not dirty rotten sinners.
    Identity is everything and for almost 20 years I lived out my Christian life in a way that was not consistent with who I am IN Christ. I was saved but I wasn’t living like I was. I now embrace my true identity and it has set me free!

  34. Andy Stenberg – Good word brother! You hit the nail on the head. It is important for us to see ourselves as God sees us. To humbly live like saints.

    For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. (Romans 12:3)

    According to scripture:

    Sinners are spiritually dead, unregenerate, in the flesh, devoid of the Spirit, children of the devil.

    Saints are spiritually alive, regenerated, in the Spirit, children of God.

    We have been fundamentally changed from those who are sinners (and under the condemnation of God) to those who are saints (or the children of God).

    But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while “we were” yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

    The issue now is are you living according to the flesh or the Spirit?

    “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.” (Romans 6:11-12)

    There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (Romans 8:1)

    I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Romans 12:1-2)

  35. I greet everybody who has commented,you have really helped me and i love the sincerity and mutual respect accorded.The realization of our identity is all that matters,our lives are lived based on who we think or know we are. I believe the dual identity of ‘saint and sinner’ taught by some people has given some believers a license to live careless lives not in accordance with God’s will,and the excuse is ; its the sinner in me who does it!
    The devil is a liar,enough of lies and teachings that takes us farther away from living in the victory provided for us by Christ Jesus on the cross.Jesus didnt not just forgive my sins,he changed my NATURE! Those cravings and urgings to sin is gone!
    While i admit that i am stil prone to mistakes {which i really feel bad about n repent},its does not make me a sinner!
    1john3 -9…those who are born of God do not sin,for God’s life is in them,so they CAN’T keep on sinning.
    I believe the Holy spirit was not kidding when he said through Paul that we are the righteousness of God! In Christ Jesus. 2cor5v21.
    Romans 7 shows Paul lamenting under the ‘Law’ before he found Grace that was in Christ Jesus!.
    Rom7v24…who will save me from this miserable life dominated by sin? Seems Paul had no hope and will continue with the dual nature…
    .But in verse 25,he went on to rejoice and celebrate his answer which lies in Jesus christ,his grace n victory,so i can also Say,my Answer is in Jesus christ! I was a sinner,now i am a saint!

  36. Ezekiel 36 clearly states that our old heart was removed and we get a new heart, and Ephesians 2 says ” WERE by nature children of wrath.” It is hard for most Christians to believe because most of us have grown up with this
    ” what a sinner I am, a wretch like me” preachings. Alas the truth is glorious; we no longer have a sinful nature, we are 100% saints! the old has been crucified and removed.

  37. Dear Eddie,

    what you describe as 100% saints is how God sees us in Jesus. This is the good news for us, the Gospel. As Luther puts it, we are “iustus” (righteous), as expressed in his “simul iustus et peccator”. But in my life, I see another law and must admit “wretched man I am” (the peccator, which means sinner). This is how Luther, Calvin and many other great fathers understood redemption. There is this component that we are saints “already but not yet”. Paul says that we are saved in hope (Rom.8:24) and therefore all the imperatives of the NT encourage us to live a godly based on this hope.

    The joy of the Gospel comes only from our growing understanding of our sinfulness. The more I see myself in the light of the holiness of God, the more I love him and rejoice in His grace. At the end of his life Paul was able to say, “The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the foremost (1 Tim. 1:15). Please note, he does not say “whom I was the fore most”, but “whom I am the foremost”.

    I hope these lines help you in your search of the truth for your life. Continue on your way, God bless you, dear brother.

  38. Sandro, I think that what Eddie was saying is more than what you are saying, and I have to agree with him. Our righteousness goes far beyond God seeing us as righteous. When he saved us he not only forgave us and declared this righteous, but he recreated us and he made us brand new. It is not simply religious talk when Paul says, “Ig a man is in Christ he is a new creation the old things have passed away…” They’re passed away, Sandra. In the Greek, that means “passed away”. :) This is why Paul says in Romans 6 that we have become “obedient from the heart…slaves of righteousness,” and this is why he says in Romans 7 it is no longer I who sins. When you sin, it is no longer you who sins, according to the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul! This is because you are a saint, not just in status, but in your very nature. Once you leave your sinful flesh at the time of your death, you will see yourself for who you really are. Meanwhile you are left to read it and believe it, regardless of how you feel or perform. “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life is revealed, then you will be revealed with him and glory.” – Colossians 3:2,3

  39. Dear Scott

    Thank you for taking time to explain your point of view on this subject. I can follow and understand what you say. Trying to think the way you do, by making your thought mine, here some thoughts which come to my mind.

    1. It is clear to me that God has regenerated me (Titus 3:4-5, in Greek “palingenesias”). This regeneration is what opened my eyes in a way that made me able to turn to God, to repent and to be reconciled with Him.

    2. The question now popping up is: What was regenerated in me? What I lost in Adam is the ability to trust God. This has led me to the painful self-care and self-centeredness I was in. Without regeneration, I could not trust God again. Trusting God means living by faith and not based on my own capabilities. It is either, God is providing all I need, or I have to provide all myself. The regeneration breaks this death status by opening our eyes, so that we get able to trust God.

    3. The rest of our “Christian” life is a learning to live by faith and not by ourselves. This is the hardest change God has and wants to accomplish in us.

    4. Learning to trust God instead of myself is just like accepting to die. It is to renounce to all my selfish efforts to comply with a godly life. It is recognizing that I am 100% dependent on Him to live the godly life.

    5. Saying that we are saints is ok for me. Paul says it too. But saying it to put aside the process, leading us in the full dependence of God, is deeply wrong. I do not know how you see this point, so take my words as what I think for my own life.

    6. If I think that I am a saint in the sense that my actions have become sinless, I put a burden on myself which will lead me to crash in one way or another. When sin will pop up in my life, maybe as an addiction, in any possible form, I will suffer greatly. I will drop in despair and realize what Jeremiah writes, “But there is little hope for you ever doing good, you who are so accustomed to doing evil. Can an Ethiopian change the color of his skin? Can a leopard remove its spots?” (Jer 13:23 NET Bible). I cannot change myself to become someone else as who I am.

    7. What is “changing” me is realizing my situation, my sinfulness, looking at Jesus and understanding why the death of my old Adam in Jesus is the greatest gift of the Gospel.

    8. Being a looser makes me to a winner. In that sense Paul writes, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Gal 2:20)

    9. Depending on God for my holiness keeps me humble. The fruit of the Spirit in Gal. 5:22-23 is not the fruit of Sandro (myself), it is the fruit of the Spirit. But it grows on me as branch attached to the wine (John15). Without this union, there is no holiness, no fruit in me.

    Yes I am a saint. But I am a saint because He makes me a saint day by day. When I fail, I am still a saint in His eyes, like my son remains my son, even when he does bad things to me.

    I would appreciate to hear from you. Calvin said “de la discussion jaillit la lumière”. Which means «out of the discussion does the light pops up » (my own translation).

    God bless,
    Sandro

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