Saints and Sinners

Saints and Sinners

Introduction 

  • “You’re a saint!” 
    • The idea implied: someone who is a cut above everyone else; moral purity, divine quality—certain amount of truth. 
    • Generally: special people, only a handful for stain glassed windows. 
    • The process for “Sainthood” within the Catholic Church is a long, meticulous process in which there has to be a great history of philanthropy or even a few miracles. 
  • So, the gap between saint and sinners (us common Christians) seems quite wide—but is this Biblical? 
    • We discover, in fact, it isn’t. 
    • Saint is a term used of all of God’s people who have been “sanctified” or “made holy” by the blood of Christ (1 Cor. 1:1-2). 
  • Ironically, these saints Paul is speaking to have serious issues. 
    • Conflict: the reality of who we are in Christ, and the struggle to realize that in daily action. 
    • Personal: doesn’t this explain your experience? Would you think of yourself as a “saint” or even as righteous? 
  • So we witness the beginning of this epistle that works through these conflicts and discover what the title “saint” means for the disciple: it is defining, refining, and confining. 

Defining 

  • Notice, “the church of God which is at Corinth.” 
    • Defining that, “Those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints.” 
    • Gives the expectations of the people/assembly of God: you are called to live a holy a righteous life, set apart from others. 
    • Constant, old-hat message of the Bible: love God and be like God. 
  • Minor point: the emphasis is on the fact that they are the Church of God—not Corinthian. 
    • Which title defines you? Dripping Springs or Church of Christ? American or Christian? 
    • While the titles may have overlapping values at times, there will be moments in your life when they may conflict—which identity is your primary one? 
    • Example: America says success is determined by material possessions, notoriety, etc.—Christianity says success is defined by holiness, godliness, and eternal life. 
  • Names/identity matters. 
    • When it comes down to it, people make the decisions they do because of who they think they are and who they are supposed to be. 
    • This is why Paul constantly calls Christians back to remember their identity: you are children of God, you are saints, God’s special ones—act like it! 
    • Just as our name outside defines us: we are Christ—followers and are called to define ourselves by Him. 
  • If you are a Christian, God defines you as a saint—are you living up to that title? 

Refining 

  • Again, this congregation looks nothing like the saints Paul makes them out to be; yet the identity remains. 
    • Yet, notice the final remarks in this section (v. 8-9). 
    • He “will confirm” that you “may be blameless.” 
  • Idea: progressive sanctification. 
    • Who you are in Christ, yet not fully realized—but progressively so—in your life. 
    • Heb. 10:14
    • Notice: “has perfected those who are being perfected.” 
    • Partnership within our sanctification between God and us: God has redeemed me and saved me by His grace (v. 4) and I am called to realize that in my life through obedience. 
  • Here then is the motivation for this (v. 7): we believe in the second coming of Christ. 
    • We live in the shadow of the second coming; lives must reflect that we believe there is a greater reality coming. 
    • Idea behind 1 John 3:3. 
  • There is both a comforting and compelling truth. 
    • Compelling: God expects me to grow. To know him better and love others more. He expects me to mature in my faith and live out the salvation he has given me. 
    • Comforting: yet, even in my struggles and weakness and battles with sin, I remember that God is still working on me—chipping away at my selfishness, pride, lust, etc. 
    • Both of these truths is quite humbling. 
  • The idea of sainthood implies a constant refining process which says: don’t give up, and keep moving forward (Phil. 3:14). 

Confining 

  • Again, these Christians are Corinthians, but they are Christians first—something they seem to have forgotten. 
    • While they may would define themselves by the borders of their city, God defines them by a new location: they are “in Christ Jesus” and how “the Church of God.” 
    • Col. 1:13-14. 
  • We are a kingdom living within a kingdom; an earthly embodiment of a heavenly kingdom. 
    • This means that there are those who are “in” and those who are on the “outside” (1 Cor. 5:13). 
    • This doesn’t mean we are can’t be in the world/have worldly friends, but we do need to realize there is a line we can’t cross: any in which would cause us to endorse/participate in sinful activity as Christians (1 Cor. 15:33). 
    • Just as we have kind of a feeling of inadequacy around “saints” those who are living in the world will inevitably feel somewhat uncfomrtable, even aggressive, toward those who are living holy before the Lord (1 Pet. 4:3-4). 
  • Of course, the beauty of this thought is that we believe that what is inside the “walls” is far better than what is on the outside: life, truth, happiness, hope, joy, love, etc. (Rom. 6:21).

Conclusion 

  • Challenge: begin every morning this week with the thought: “I am a saint”—and see how this influences your daily living. 
  • This it the message that we must embody and believe.