Simul Justus et Peccator – At the same time a Saint and a Sinner

This is a picture that Callie drew representing the idea of "Simul Justus et Peccator". She did the drawing and we both did the color.

“Simul Justus et Peccator” is a phrase coined by Martin Luther that may be translated: “Righteous and at the same time a Sinner.”   In making this statement Luther was making the point that every believer, in this life, is still in conflict with the sinful the nature.  Therefore, our lives are impacted by the contaminating influence of sin.  The Westminster Confession unpacks the point further:

“(Our good works) are good, in that they proceed from God’s Spirit; but as they are wrought by us, they are defiled, and mixed with so much weakness and imperfection, that they cannot endure the severity of God’s judgment.”

“Notwithstanding, the persons of believers being accepted through Christ, also have good works that are accepted in him; not as though they were in this life wholly unblamable and unreprovable in God’s sight; but that he, looking at them through his Son, is pleased to accept and reward those works which are sincere, although they are accompanied with many weaknesses and imperfections.” (The Westminster Confession of Faith, “Of Good Works,” Chapter XVI, v, vi.)

Therefore, in this life, Christians will always be – “Simul Justus et Peccator – At the same time a Saint and a Sinner.”

11 thoughts on “Simul Justus et Peccator – At the same time a Saint and a Sinner

  1. That is excellent, and your words that go with it are, too. We must never allow the disappointment of constant failure to overshadow the incredible glimpses of his mercy to sinners such as we are.

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  2. God does not see us as imperfect. He made us all perfect the way we are. He loves us all. There is no “peccator” amongst us. Only good. Sin is man made. At the hour of departure you will know this, there is only love.

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    • Lotawatawoman, while I appreciate your perspective, I have to disagree.

      As a Christian, the Bible is my ultimate and exclusive foundation for truth. The scriptures are very strong in asserting the sinfulness of all men and women as we stand before the Holy God of the universe. Paul says that he is the ‘chief of sinners’ (1 Tim 1:15). Isaiah says that he is a man of ‘unclean lips’ (Isaiah 6:5). Jesus calls Peter ‘Satan’ (Matt 16:23). Peter tells Jesus to ‘get away from him because he is a sinful man’ (Luke 5:8). Paul tells us in Romans that ‘all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory’ (Romans 3:23). Romans 1:18-32 goes into great detail explaining the depth of our sin and says that because of our sin, we are doomed under the curse of God’s wrath-filled justice (Romans 1:18). So then, according to the Bible, we are most definitely, “peccator.” Sinful. All of us.

      Yet, the good news, the sacrosanct Gospel of Jesus Christ, is that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Ephesians 2:4). Those who place their trust in Christ and repent of their sins are justified. They are forever put in right standing with God. Jesus took our penalty of wrath so that we might receive his blessing as a favored child of God. So, those who have receive this grace are “justus.” Righteous. Thanks be to God!

      If you do not know it already, my earnest prayer for you today is that you too might know the great forgiveness and abundant love of Christ Jesus.

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      • If you are born again and worship God in spirit and in truth, and Jesus is your Lord and Savior, then you are the righteousness of God. You cannot be a sinner and a saint at the same time. Yes we have sin that lives in us, but we are {bodies} are dead to sin and our spirits alive in Christ. 2 Cor 5:17 You are a new creation in Christ. Galatians 2:20 says you have been crucified with Christ it is no longer you who lives, but Christ lives in you. Colossians 3:3 You are hidden with Christ in God. 1 Cor 6:19 You are a temple of the Holy Spirit, you are not your own, you were bought at a price.

        Think about this: If Christ lives in you; Christ was sinless, then how can you still be a sinner. Romans 8:10 If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. You were formerly a sinner, and yes sin still is in our bodies, but because of Christ living in us, we are free from sin, we have been crucified with Christ and you no longer live, but Christ lives in you.
        We are now the righteousness of God, sons of God. Alot of Christians are powerless, because they still call themselves sinners, have a false humility. living a lie. Yes you can say {you were} formerly a sinner but now you are a child of the great “I AM” Satan is very powerful and remember there are dark forces of evil that are in a constant battle for your mind. You need to take captive every thought to the mind of Christ. 2 Cor 10: 5-6 May you start living in the grace & power of God. letting the Holy Spirit teach you all things.

        Bless you, in Spirit and in Truth

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  3. You cannot separate the human weakness or sinful nature from the forgiveness that comes through Christ. We are in both worlds at the same time. A true mystery.

    1 John 1:8 says: If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.

    Can you, I or anyone else ever claim to be without sin? Only Jesus lived the sinless life and his death and resurrection redeems all sin. The Holy Spirit is in us and we are called Children of God. 1 John 3. But this does not mean that we will never sin. We are subject to our very nature. The beauty is that righteousness is granted through grace every time we fall because of Jesus.

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      • It isn’t so my friend. You can seperate the the sinner from his sin nature.
        Yes, it is thru Christ Jesus!
        You are now a partaker of a new devine nature that has been given to you
        by God because of His Son. You have been freed from your old nature of sin.
        Your flesh is now dead, because you yourself have been crucified with Christ
        and it is no longer you who live, but it is Christ living in you. Gal 2:20
        You are now a new creation in Christ. 2 Cor 5:17
        I will explain more to you. This is why Christians are not living in the power
        of their new devine nature that God has given them, because they do not understand the new law of the nature of Spirit and Life. They keep living in their old nature of sin and death.

        Bryce

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      • Bryce, I respect your thoughts. I disagree with your conclusions. While our foundational identity is hidden with Christ (Colossians 3:3) and will revealed when Christ returns (I John 3:2-3), Christians are still sinners and will remain so until we are glorified with Christ. Paul says “I am” the chief of sinners, not “I was” (I Timothy 1:15). He says “wretched man that ‘I am‘” not “wretched man that ‘I was‘ (Romans 7:24).” The primary activity that defines a believer in Christ is not ‘sinlessness‘ but ‘repentance‘. Martin Luther’s first thesis powerfully affirms this idea – “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said “Repent,” he intended that the entire life of believers should be repentance.” All of the Christian life is repentance. Turning to Jesus and trusting in the good news that Jesus saves sinners is not merely a one-time inaugural experience but the daily substance of Christianity. The gospel is for every day and every moment. Repentance is to be the Christian’s continual posture, not sinless perfection.

        As you rightly pointed out, we are also a new creation, Christ is living in us, etc. This is what gives us the spiritual acumen, desire, and power to repent. Yet, in this life we will remain, Simul justus et peccator – at the same time a saint and a sinner. Thanks be to Christ, our identity as saint is the prevailing and eternal identity.

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      • Hey Tim,
        I totally understand what you mean.
        I have to still disagree with you on being a sinner and saint at the same time. In Romans 6:6- Knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin. Also in Romans 7:17 Paul says; So now, no longer am i the one doing it, {sinning} but sin which dwells in me.Romans 8:9 it states:
        However you are not in flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you.10.If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness.14 For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
        Romans 7:23- There is a war waging against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members, but in 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.
        In 1 John 1:9 States: No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
        We do have a new divine nature and our identity is no longer in sin and death, but of the Spirit of life.
        We are now called,sons of God, ambassadors for Christ, we are the bride of Christ, fellow heirs with Christ, children of God, Saints. I know that there is no good thing which dwelleth in my flesh.
        I myself am dead, i have been crucified with Christ, i no longer live. I understand what you are saying about the sinner part. We can no longer have anything to do with our old nature of sin.
        The word of God tells us over and over who we are in Christ. I know that my flesh is sinful and it will fail over and over again. I will repent to the Father asking for His forgiveness. Also knowing that i am cover by Christ’s blood and being thankful for all His Forgiveness and Grace that covers us each day.
        I want to live in the power and freedom of my new devine nature that God has given me thru His Son and not in the past of who i once was. I hope that you understand my point of view, and i do understand your point as well. I want to be able to help other christians understand their new indentity in Christ and not be defeated over and over again by their flesh, the world and Satan. We need God’s army to be living in His power and strength and know how to fight the battle against the rulers, powers, world forces, of darkness, and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly paces with the whole armor of God. Keep looking up!
        – Bryce

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    • Joah, I always thought this would be a great tattoo. I’ve often thought about it myself. Right in the center of my back. 🙂

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