Thursday, November 1, 2012

Not Our Identity

I am a firm believer that Martin Luther got it right when he said that Christians are "simul justus et peccator" (Latin for "simultaneously righteous and sinners") I believe that so much, I wish I had a T-Shirt with those Latin words blazoned upon it. However, it is important to remember that this statement describes our present walk in the "now and not yet," but not our identity before the presence of God. I like this clarification by Jono Linebaugh at Liberate:
...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.
That's what it means. That's how we live. That's what He has done.