Sproul: Christ Does Not Wait For Us To Become Holy Before He Declares Us Righteous

Justification stands at the beginning of the Christian life, at the moment we truly believe in Christ. At that instant, God reckons to us the righteousness of Christ, and we are declared just. Martin Luther expressed this concept with the phrase simul justus et peccator. Those four Latin words means that we are, at the same time, both righteous and sinful. How can it be? On the surface, it sounds like a contradiction, doesn’t it? But we are indeed just by virtue of the justice or righteousness of Jesus to you. That’s the basis of your justification. But, in and of yourself, you remain a sinner. That’s the whole point of the Protestant doctrine of justification. God doesn’t wait for us to be worthy of salvation. He doesn’t wait for us to become holy before we’re counted as righteous. “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).

R. C. Sproul, Growing in Holiness, 76–77 (HT: Inwoo Lee)


    Post authored by:

  • Inwoo Lee
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    Inwoo Lee (BA, UCSD) earned his MA (Historical Theology) in 2020 from Westminster Seminary California and is author of “Righteous Before God: William Perkins’ Doctrine of Justification in Elizabethan England” (MA Thesis, Westminster Seminary California, 2020). He lives in the Great Seoul area, in South Korea with his wife Holly.

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  1. In that sense, the sense in the quote, that God doesn’t wait, it’s misleading to call justification merely the first step of many needed to be considered righteous. Isn’t this embedded in the early-in-His-ministry statement of Jesus to His disciples, “you are the light of the world (Mt 5:14)?”

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