In this video, Dr. Sproul explains a crucial difference between Roman Catholic and Reformation teaching concerning salvation. The phrase means, “at the same time just and sinner.” This is not a contradiction, as he says in the video:
And so with this formula Luther was saying, in our justification we are one and the same time righteous or just, and sinners. Now if he would say that we are at the same time and in the same relationship just and sinners that would be a contradiction in terms. But that’s not what he was saying. He was saying from one perspective, in one sense, we are just. In another sense, from a different perspective, we are sinners; and how he defines that is simple. In and of ourselves, under the analysis of God’s scrutiny, we still have sin; we’re still sinners. But, by imputation and by faith in Jesus Christ, whose righteousness is now transferred to our account, then we are considered just or righteous. This is the very heart of the gospel.
Dr. Sproul uses the word “imputation” here – imputation means “to declare,” or “reckon,” or “to count as.” Rome, at the Council of Trent in the 16th Century, declares anathema upon one who affirms the imputation of the work of Christ in this manner:
If anyone says that men are justified either by the sole imputation of the justice of Christ or by the sole remission of sins, to the exclusion of the grace and the charity which is poured forth in their hearts by the Holy Ghost, and remains in them, or also that the grace by which we are justified is only the good will of God, let him be anathema.
This goes to the heart of the differences between Rome and Reformationists – how is a man justified? Dr. Sproul thus explains: