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Posts Tagged ‘sinful’

(Original post at Monergism)

 

To one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness” – Romans 4:5

How is the Christian to see himself in this world? “Simul iustus et peccator” – “At the same time righteous and a sinner”. Justification is forensic. In Christ, we are declared, counted or reckoned to be righteous when God imputes the righteousness of Christ (an “alien righteousness”) to our account. Christ’s righteousness ascribed to the redeemed individual without their personal merit. We are declared righteous in Christ, it is imputed to us — it is counted as ours … not infused in us. We are counted righteous in God’s eyes because of Christ. But this does not make us righteous in ourselves. That will only happen at our glorification when Christ transforms these bodies to be sealed in righteousness. Justifying righteousness is something which always resides in the Person of Christ alone. The imputation of this “alien” righteousness is the only means by which man can be acceptable to God. As long as the Christian lives, he is guilty in himself, but “in Christ” he is righteous and accounted precious.

The Council of Trent itself reveals that Rome considered Luther’s simul iustus et peccator to be a most serious threat to the traditional teaching of the Catholic church. The Roman Church contended that “justification” means making a man righteous in his own person. The Catholic reasons, “How can God pronounce a man to be righteous in His sight unless he is actually righteous?” He therefore thinks that a man must be born again and transformed before he can have right standing with God. In this system of thought, a man can have no real assurance of justification, for he can never be sure whether the Holy Spirit has made him righteous enough to be accepted of God.

Righteousness through Christ is called an “alien” righteousness because it did not generate from us. It is not our righteousness; it is his. It is an alien righteousness because it came from without, and now it is in a foreign land. It does not belong here; it is an alien righteousness. In Latin we call it simul iustus et peccator: simul, simultaneously; iustus, just; et, and; peccator, sinful. That is me – simultaneously righteous and sinful. That is my contribution to salvation — my sin! At the same time that I am a sinner, God sees me as righteous because of the blood of Jesus Christ. That is the message of outreach — it is the message of salvation.

Righteousness comes in two ways: coram deo (righteousness before God) and coram hominibus (before man). Instead of a development in righteousness based in the person, or an infusion of merit from the saints, a person is judged righteous before God because of the works of Christ. But,absent the perspective of God and the righteousness of Christ, based on one’s own merit—a Christian still looks like a sinner. The declaration involves God imputing to the believer’s “balance sheet” or account the alien righteousness of Christ. The believer is not declared righteous by virtue of his own merit, but on the basis of the merit of Christ. When united to Him, it is justification which becomes the foundation upon which the believer can stand with confidence coram dei. The believer has no cause to fear in the presence of God because of His acquittal. The believer has only and always to look to the finished work of Christ on the Cross and hear God’s declaration, “You are accepted.” Because of justification the believer does not fear God’s rejection because of the sin still present in his/her life. God does not look at the sin in our life except through the work of Christ. This tension is resolved in the Incarnate Christ, crucified and now risen for the life of the world.

Eternal life is Christ dwelling in His righteousness in the soul of the justified person. So eternal life is union with Jesus Christ. And the word for that union with him is faith. The sinners comes to him, rests in him, trusts in him, is one with him, abides with him; and this is life because it never ends. The united soul abides in the Vine eternally. Weakness, sin, proneness to sin never brings separation, but only the Father’s pruning, which cements the union even and ever tighter.

The Judge of all the earth declares us “not guilty” when we believe because Christ was pronounced “guilty” for us on the cross. We are not first made righteous, then declared righteous; we are declared righteous by grace through faith in Christ, then made righteous! When we believe, God imputes Christ’s righteousness to us ‘as if’ it were our own. However, it is HIS righteousness, that is why Paul says in Romans 1:17 that there is a righteousness that has been revealed from God, a righteousness not of our own, but a righteousness revealed from God and freely given to those who do not work, but to those who believe. In light of the goodness and graciousness of God who was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, we should daily repent of our own self-righteousness (our works), The words imply a declaration and pronouncement from the divine court of the believer’s right standing with God. “Justification” in itself does not mean a change in the man, but a declaration of how he appears in God’s sight.

Through faith we run to Christ and hold fast to Him, who satisfied the law on our behalf (Romans 10:4; Galatians 3:10-13). In this way we are accounted righteous in the sight of God through faith alone, without doing the works of the law. We are simul iustus et peccator.

Luther recognized that even in a state of regeneration the believer still lives in the world and still in fact does commit acts of sin. There is no attempt to redefine sin to make it anything less than what it is. Rather there is a stark recognition of the dialectic of the Christian’s acceptance before God and the fact that he still sins. Luther’s phrase to describe this condition was that the state of the Christian between regeneration and ultimate glorification is simul iustus et peccator, at once just (or justified) and sinner. This is not a condition that will ever be transcended in this life. Rather, the believer must always rely on the finished work of Christ for his/her acceptance before God.

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Today’s reading is Ephesians 6:10-20 (ESV http://www.gnpcb.org/esv/search/?q=Ephesians+6%3A10-20 )

A quick overview of this section reminds us of the following things: (1) that the Christian is involve in a warfare, (2) that the warfare is spiritual wherein the controlling powers of darkness are unseen influencing the unbelieving world, (3) that the current inhabitants of this world are categorized in two groups only: those who are living in darkness and those who are living in the light of God.

  • Ephesians 2:1-3 gives us a preview of the life before conversion to Christ. We are influenced by the prince (ruler) of darkness resulting to a life of continual disobedience to God, carrying out every lust of the body and mind.
  • In contrast (Ephesians 5:6-16), the new life that God created in the person who is in Christ is described as walking in the light of God (v.8) displaying fruit in keeping with goodness, righteousness and truth (v.9), always discerning what is pleasing to the Lord (v.10), and do not have any part in the unfruitful work of darkness (v.11).

The link between light and life can be established in Psalm 36 and read verse 9, “For in You is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.”

  • Whenever God brings His truth to a person, only then will he realize his sin and his desperate need for God and His truth continually. You see, in Psalm 36:1-4, man apart from God is sinful in his heart, not fearful of God, and truly blind to the fact that he is a sinner who is wicked enough to think that evil itself is right (not rejecting evil, v.4).
  • Until God becomes the source of life, and shines His truth in our heart can we realize darkness resides within the very core of our being.  Paul writes in Romans 7:7 – if it were not for the Law, he would have not known that he is covetous!

And this God given life can only be received through Jesus Christ who said, “I am the Light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). 

  • This declaration was prefaced by the narrative about the adulterous woman who was exposed by the Pharisees. She deserves to be stoned as required by the Law of Moses. But Jesus confronted all her accusers and exposed their sinful hearts because their original intention was to test Him, to find something to charge against Him (they were breaking the Law -“do not put the Lord your God to the test”!) They did not know that they are as sinful as the adulterous woman – they all deserve punishment.  Only when Jesus exposed them all (his silence to the charge against the woman proves that she is indeed guilty) did they begin to realize their condition – so it seems. His graciousness was revealed to all as well – – first, exposing the sin of the Pharisees was an act of grace (remember Romans 7:7 ?), and His forgiveness granted to the adulterer is also an act of His grace. You see, the light of God’s truth in Christ has its 2 effects: condemns the unrepentant (Pharisees) and draws the sinner unto repentance (the woman in a manner of contrast to the Pharisees).

Lastly, Ephesians 4:17 -20 tells us that the person living in the light of God’s truth progressively increases in his abandon of the old life as he learns on the forgiveness he receives in Jesus Christ. And more importantly, this new life is not man-made but a creative work of God (v.24) exhibiting true righteousness and holiness.

So you see my beloved brothers, there are two kinds of people in the world – those in the light and those in darkness; two kinds of rulers – God over the children of the light, Satan over the children of darkness, and two kinds of fruit – righteousness and truth for God’s people while disobedience and lust for the unregenerated. Two opposing kingdoms who will always be at war until all the enemies of Jesus Christ will be finally defeated in the Day of His return.  We are in a warfare against darkness and we need the full armor of God to protect us as the days become more evil.

Next: Part 2 – Last But Not The Least                https://emmaustrekker.wordpress.com/2009/07/10/panoply-series-part-2-last-but-not-the-least/

Previous: Panoply Series – Introduction (link below) https://emmaustrekker.wordpress.com/2009/06/26/panoply-series/

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