But what is the old man? It is that which is born in us from Adam, angry, hateful, envious, unchaste, stingy, lazy, haughty, yea, unbelieving, infected with all vices, and having by nature nothing good in it. Now, when we are come into the kingdom of Christ, these things must daily decrease, that the longer we live we become more gentle, more patient, more meek, and ever withdraw more and more from unbelief, avarice, hatred, envy, haughtiness. (Blessed Martin Luther, Large Catechism, “Of Baptism”, IV.66-67)
If, as is claimed by some, the Old Man can’t get better, because he is “100% Sinner” and sins all the time, and the New Man can’t get better, because he’s “100% Saint” and never sins…
- In whom is “anger, hate, envy, unchastity, stinginess, laziness, arrogance” supposed to daily decrease?
- Who is supposed to become gentle, patient, meek, and ever turn away from unbelief, greed, hatred, envy, and arrogance?
One possible answer:
The premises of the question are flawed.
To Luther the paradox simul justus et peccator is not an ontological description of man as righteous and a sinner, nor a statement about the old and new man, but a simple affirmation of two biblical assertions concerning man, the assertion of the law that man is a sinner and under God’s wrath and the assertion of the gospel that man is righteous and God is at peace. Both assertions are true in fact, ontologically. The second verdict, however, or assertion, takes total preeminence over the first by virtue of the principle of solus Christus. Christ is Lord! He is Lord of the Scriptures, of all doctrine, theology, and “everything.” (See LW 27:156)” (Robert Preus, “Luther: Word, Doctrine and Confession”, from Doctrine Is Life: Essays on Scripture, pp. 282-283)