Skip to Site Navigation | Skip to Content

August 23, 2017

August 23, 2017

"Simultaneously A Saint and
A Sinner"

“…I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.” Romans 7:18b-19 NIV

Monday we talked about how we don’t have to earn our way back to God, in fact we can’t, rather justification and salvation are a gift freely given to us. Yesterday, we said that the only possible response to this is to joyfully love and serve God by loving and serving our neighbors. 

Did I mention that this isn’t going to be easy? But I didn’t have to tell you. We know that we are still broken people in a broken world, and the struggle against our sinful nature goes on. (Sorry, I’m about to bring Luther in again.) Luther knew this, too. He used the phrase in Latin “simul iustus et peccator”—at the same time just and a sinner—or as we often put it in English, simultaneously a saint and a sinner. 

You know that in the waters of baptism, you have been justified. You are saved by the grace of God. As Peter wrote, “… you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9 NIV) You have been sanctified!

But…but…but…still we struggle. Pastor Bob Hiller puts it this way, “You and I will daily have to fight against the old sinful nature.  The old Adam was drowned in baptism, but that sucker can swim, as Luther once quipped.  The old, sinful nature must be drowned daily as we remember our baptism in repentance.” (

And this is why we pray, with broken and contrite hearts. We know we need help. We can’t go it alone, and we’re not meant to. We need the Holy Spirit working within us, working in our hearts, guiding us to be better servants, better disciples, more loving children of God.

When I was growing up in a Lutheran church, we sang a beautiful offertory every Sunday, and I still sing it. It was the words of David, written after he’d been confronted with some of his more spectacular sins.

“Create in me a pure heart, O God,
      and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
      or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
      and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”
(Psalm 51:10-12 NIV)

I hope that today you’ll remember that you are a saint as well as a sinner, and that you’ll pray David’s prayer with me.