ephesians 2:1-10: by grace through faith

reflection, grace by faith, simul iustus et peccator

Written by Crystal Rowe

Crystal has a heart for making the church and the Christian faith real and relevant to the world around her and is passionate about serving others in the name of Christ. Crystal is married to her perfect match, D and is Mommie to A and the two sweetest kitties on earth.

January 17, 2013

reflection, grace through faith, simul iustus et peccator

[serialposts]I can remember talking about this passage in Confirmation as if it were yesterday. There’s not much I remember from those middle school years, but this passage stuck with me. This is what makes us Lutheran, my pastor said. It is this passage that identifies us as Simul Iustus et Peccator.

Simultaneously saint and sinner.

I can remember being so confused by this. How could I be both a saint and a sinner all at the same time?

At the beginning of this passage, Paul lays out the law:

You were dead in your transgressions and sins…

Dead. No hope. End of the road. The Message puts it this way:

You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live.

Wow. Talk about hitting the nail on the head. I am constantly worrying about what other people might think of me. We are continuously striving to leave a life pleasing to Christ – but all too often we find ourselves caving to peer pressure. Magazines, TV shows, movies – even ads on the side of public buses – they all beg us to live a worldly life.

A life that leads us to emptiness and death. A life that pulls us further and further away from God and from each other. Let’s face it – we are pretty hopeless.

But then Paul lays out the gospel:

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.

If there is one verse in the entire Bible that has shaped my life, it’s this one. There’s nothing I can do – or not do – to save myself. I am saved by grace alone. And it’s not anything for me to brag about … because it was given to me freely. I didn’t earn it. I didn’t ask for it. God’s love is so great and so abundant that He just reaches out and showers me with grace and mercy.

There have been so many times over the last ten years that I have wrestled with leaving church. So many times that church felt like more of a country club and less of a group of people gathering together to follow Christ. So many hearts broken because of the words and actions of people who call themselves Christian. So many frustrations over worship styles and new ministries.

Yet every single time I think I’m done with church, I’m reminded of this verse. This paradox – that we are all saint and sinner – simultaneously.

Because you see, the church is made up of people. People who are dead to sin – and yet alive in Christ – all at the same time. None of us are perfect – no matter how hard we try – and yet God grants us grace and mercy in spite of our transgressions.

And when I stop boasting because of my own salvation – and begin to truly realize just how great the grace of God is – it is in that moment that I realize God has created each one of us to do great things. Sometimes we let the world steer us off course, but praise God for granting us the grace and mercy to get us back on the right track.

We don’t do great things so that God will love us. No … we do great things because God loves us. Because God lives in us through Christ Jesus.

To quote Caedmon’s Call,

I’m so thankful that I’m incapable of doing any good on my own.


  1. Amy L. Sullivan

    Ahhh, you had me at Confirmation and you kept me through Cademon’s Call. My Confirmation name? Monica…wait, now just what was Monica the Saint of anyway? I must go look.

    • Crystal Rowe

      Aw – I didn’t have a Confirmation name … or if I did, I’ve blocked that from my memory! So what was she the saint of?? I’m dying to know…

      • Amy L. Sullivan

        Sadly, no cheesecake, ladies. The saint of wives and abuse victims. I am certain I picked this name because I thought it sounded cool, and not because I knew a thing about her.

    • Monica Sharman

      Hmmm…I like that name. 🙂 Could I be the self-declared Saint of Cheesecake Makers?

  2. Monica Sharman

    Thank you for this, Crystal. Remembering that we are simultaneously sinner and saint goes a long way in moving me to show grace—and be thankful for the grace I receive (from God and other sinner-saints).

    • Crystal Rowe

      Sometimes accepting grace can be harder than showing it … at least for me 🙂 It’s definitely something to be thankful for!

  3. Jody Collins

    Crystal, I was just this morning muttering in my Spirit (you can do that, right?) “thank you God that the change in me is all You and Your grace alone.
    Such a great post. Thank you for this.

    • Crystal Rowe

      Jody – you can DEFINITELY mutter in your Spirit … I do it all the time 🙂 Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  4. kelli woodford

    oh, i love the way you’ve let the saint and sinner paradox lead you to extend grace.
    for, indeed, that is what we are. and we need each others’ grace.
    words to dwell on — thank you.
    (and here’s to Caedmon’s Call! 🙂 )


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ephesians 2:1-10: by grace through faith

by Crystal Rowe time to read: 3 min