Part of the problem I think for many people is that they don’t want to think of themselves as sinners. I specifically before have no criminal record; faithful in marriage; kind; honest; etc t be any of those things s status before God and standing under the cross I’ll die and death only comes to sinners.
Martin Luther early in his thinking and discovery of what justification means wrote to a fellow Augustinian friar, George Spenlein: Beware of aspiring to such purity that you will not wish to be looked upon as a sinner, or to be one. For Christ dwells only in sinners. On this account he descended from heaven, where he dwelt among the righteous, to dwell among sinners. Meditate on this love of his and you will see his sweet consolation.
For why was it necessary for him to die if we can obtain a good conscience by our works and affliction? Accordingly you will find peace only in him and only when you despair of yourself and your own works. Besides you will learn from him that just as he has received you, so he has made your sins his own and has made
his righteousness yours.
Paul wrote in Romans 4 …
And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins 8 ESV)
Here it is clearly seen that God justifies the ungodly, that it is only through faith that we are righteous we are still sinners but God no longer counts our sin against us because of Jesus. This absolutely does not give us a licence to sin but in fact marks our discipleship as one of living each day to our new identities struggling to do so in these bodies of sin and death. So we will struggle as disciples of Jesus and not despair to the point of losing our faith should we fall into great and shameful sins but instead recognise the danger or tension we face, that our sinful selves are mighty good swimmers and need to be daily drowned in the waters of baptism as we daily repent of our sin and daily put on Christ to follow him. The older we become as Christians the more aware I believe we of the depth of sin but also the more sweet becomes the cross of Jesuss justifying verdict.
Yes, Lutherans hold to this phrase ‘simul justus et peccator’ – simultaneously saint and sinner – because it accurately teaches and reveals the wonder of justification – that God has justified the ungodly, even us, and that Jesus, Lord and Saviour, will stay with us, even us, every day. And so Christians live with both repentance and joy every day. There’s no better way to live.