“But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth” (2 Thessalonians 2:13).
Saint and Sinner
In Psalm 51, David’s great psalm of repentance, he confesses, “Against You, You only, have I sinned and done what is evil in Your sight” (verse 4). So it is with us. We sin daily. We sin egregiously. There is nothing else for us to do, for we are sinners. “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me” (verse 5), David declares. This is the state of all humankind since the Fall in the Garden of Eden.
Yet our gracious God chooses us to be His own! We cannot understand this. There is nothing we can do to be accepted by God and nothing we can do to receive His salvation. Jesus said, “. . . I told you that no one can come to Me unless the Father has enabled him” (John 6:65).
In spite of our sinfulness, we are called saints. Paul, writing to the Philippians and to the Ephesians as well, greets them, “To all the saints . . .” (Philippians 1:1). That’s you! That is I! This concept of saint and sinner is one that Luther grasped and explained. We are sinners in fact, but we are righteous at the same time because Christ has imputed His righteousness to us. By Christ’s blood we are declared righteous and by the work of His Spirit through Word and Sacrament, we are daily being sanctified until in Heaven we no longer have this struggle with our sinful nature.
1. Read Romans 7:14-20. Is Paul describing the saint or the sinner in this passage?
2. Read Romans 7:21-25. What is Paul’s answer to the question He brings up in this passage?
3. Read Ephesians 1:4. Is Paul writing about the saint or the sinner in this verse?
4. Read Philippians 1:6. Who is the “He” of this verse? What does He do for us?
5. Read 1 Thessalonians 2:13; Titus 3:5; 1 Peter 2:24. How does He do this work for us?
Oh, Lord God, truly You are mighty and powerful – yet You care for me! You created the world and all that is in it – and You created me! I sin against You, but You forgive, redeem, and restore me to Yourself. In fact, You came to me when I most needed You – when I was “dead in [my] transgressions and sins” – and You became like me so that I will one day be like You! Thank You, dear Jesus. Let Your Holy Spirit continue His work of sanctification in me that I may serve and praise and worship You all the days of my life. Through Christ I pray. Amen.