If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
“Simul iustus et peccator” is a Latin phrase coined by Martin Luther, penned at the time of the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century. And although you don’t need to learn this so-called “dead language”, it is essential to our Christian faith to understand the concept reflected in those 4 words.
Latin lesson #1:
simul – at the same time, concurrently.
iustus – just, right, equitable.
et – both, and.
peccator – sinner, transgressor.
Translation: At the same time, just and sinner.
Luther’s point? When we recognize the toxicity and stench of our sin in God’s holy nostrils and embrace by faith the Lord Jesus and His sacrifice as God’s only solution, a spiritual conversion of eternal proportion results.
And one component of salvation is the spiritual transaction of “imputation”.
This simply means that our sin – past, present, future – was dealt with by the just wrath of God being poured out on Christ at the cross. My sin is charged to Jesus’ account.
But the reciprocal transaction is also key to understanding biblical salvation: His righteousness is credited, or “imputed” to my account.
We often think of the verse from 1 John above as being an offer of salvation to those coming to Christ.
But in its context, John is reminding his readers that sin continues its presence in each of our lives even after we are justified by faith in Christ. By the work of God’s Spirit, our lives are incrementally being changed to be more like Jesus – to remove actions, words, and attitudes that disappoint God and assault His holy character.
But when we fail – when we breach His standard – we know that our fellowship or koinonia with Him is restored through our confession and His promised forgiveness. We continue to disappoint our Lord – but when the Father looks on the believer, He sees one clothed in the righteousness of His Son.
Takeaway: my Christian life is to be a continuum of Christ’s righteousness being more evident, simultaneous with the constant defeat and ultimate eradication of that which falls below God’s holy standard.