December 2 I Sunday
1 John 1
“To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are in Colosse…” —Colossians 1:2 NKJV
The word “saint,” as most people understand it today, has been hijacked by many historic churches over the years as a designation for the spiritual heroes of the past. This is not the meaning of the word “saint” as used in Scripture. The Greek translation is hagios, which means “to be set apart,” and every Christian is set apart for the purposes of Jesus Christ.
“Saint” appears in three different ways in the New Testament: as a noun, an adjective and a verb. As a noun, the word “saint” is the designation of every believer. What turns a sinner into a saint is the intervention of a Saviour who cleanses us of our sin and clothes us with His righteousness. Our identity becomes united to Christ as our Saviour, and we then become designated as saints.
As an adjective, saint is used as the word “holy,” which is to be set apart. In the Old Testament, “holy” describes many things set apart for God: the nation of Israel, the tabernacle, the temple and the priesthood. In the New Testament, a Christian is set apart for God. A holy Christian is one with a disposition geared specifically to the agenda of Jesus Christ, but an unholy Christian is someone who is available for anything that attracts their attention at any time.
As the same word is used as a noun, “saint,” and as an adjective, “holy,” is there such a thing as an unholy saint? Technically, this is an oxymoron, but the answer is “yes.” The noun “saint” is used of our position in Christ, but the word “holy” is used of our practices and attitudes in our living. Our position in Christ and practices in living should be utterly consistent, but sometimes our living can drift away from our position. The position in Christ is permanent, but the practice is a disciplined bringing of ourselves under the authority of Jesus Christ and willfully setting ourselves apart for His purpose.
A verb assumes action and as a verb, saint is normally translated as “sanctify,” which means to be used for the purpose in which something is made. The word “saint” brings together all three: the noun, Christian; the adjective, holy, or “to be set apart;” and the verb, sanctify, to be used for the purpose for which we were created. Paul addresses his letter to the “saints in Colosse,” not to “the saints and everyone else.” If we are a Christian, then we are designated a saint, but whether a holy or an unholy saint is based on the measure to which we bring our lives under the lordship of Jesus Christ.
Prayer: Dear Jesus, help me to bring every aspect of my life under Your lordship and to live every day as a holy Christian, set apart for Your purpose. Thank You, Lord.
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