I know the Bible calls us saints (Romans 1:7) but I don’t usually feel like one. Or think I act like one.
I still mistakenly think of a saint as somebody who is always kind, doesn’t make mistakes, is super spiritual.
Not just regular believers. Like me. Like you. But, hey, we’re it.
Regardless of our misconceptions, we are the “holy ones” because He says so. Not because we’re sinless, but because we’re set apart to mirror his glory.
In Chapter 8, “Be Holy Because I Am Holy” of The Holiness of God, R. C. Sproul points out that God led the Hebrews out of Egypt to set them apart, make them a special nation for a special purpose. His special purpose. Not because of anything they had done, but because of something he wanted to do.
And he told them, “Be holy, because I am holy” (Lev. 11:44). Yeah, we see how well they obeyed that. About as well as we do. For the most part, they continued to chose their own purposes over God’s purposes. But no matter. God still succeeded in accomplishing his purpose (as he always does, Isaiah 46:10-11), and he brought forth from them the everlasting King that we still worship today.
We have the same high calling to be holy as he is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16). To be vessels for honorable use (2 Timothy 2:21). To be transformed, living sacrifices (Romans 12:1-2).
To be separate. For a purpose. Different like Jesus is different. By conforming to Jesus. Think as he thinks. Obey as he obeys. Value things he values and detest things he detests.
How? According to Sproul’s interpretation of the apostle Paul’s writings,
The key method Paul underscores as the means to the transformed life is by the “renewal of the mind.”
This means nothing more and nothing less than education. Serious education. In-depth education. Disciplined education in the things of God.
It calls for a mastery of the Word of God. We need to be people whose lives have changed because our minds have changed.
We’re still in process of being transformed, obviously. But even now as sinners, we are still saints. We are already separated from our sins and set apart for good works.
He counts us righteous even when in and of ourselves we are not righteous. But this is the gospel!
There’s no waiting for us to get our acts perfectly together before he justifies us and calls us righteous.
The instant we believe, we are immediately justified. God does not wait for our good works before He declares us just. We are still sinners when the declaration comes. How much time elapses before the sinner begins to become pure? The answer is none.
But can we know if we’re at least making progress in living out our holiness call? Sproul suggests looking for fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives as signs (Galatians 5:22-23).
These are the marks of a person who is growing in holiness. These are the virtues we are called to cultivate. To yield the fruit of the Spirit, we must practice the fruit of the Spirit.
That doesn’t mean it’s easy or that it comes naturally.
There is nothing easy about becoming holy. Yet, the Bible does make it easy for us to know what holiness is supposed to look like.
So we stay focused on Christ to know the ultimate Holy One. We seek his kingdom and his righteousness (Matthew 6:33) as we live out our holy call.
I will continue to struggle calling myself a saint according to the world’s definition, but according to God’s definition, I’m there.
If he calls me a holy one, then so be it. I am a saint.
Chapter 9, God in the Hands of Angry Sinners