Summary: Several questions about a Christian Is... a Saint (Material adapted from Bob Tinsky's book, A Christian Is..., Chapter 9, pgs. 133- 143)
Two brothers were convicted of stealing sheep many years ago in England. In accordance with the punishment of those days, they were branded in the forehead with the letters “ST” for sheep thief. One brother, unable to bear the stigma, fled to a foreign country where he died full of bitterness and was buried in a forgotten grave. The other brother chose not to run away. He said, “I can’t get away from the fact that I once stole sheep, but I will remain here and make the best of it. I’ll change my way of living, do what’s right and try to get back the respect of my neighbors, as well as my own self respect.” The years passed, and he gradually established a reputation for his integrity and respectability, his honesty and worth. Then one day a stranger was in town and he happened to notice this old man with the letters “ST” branded on his forehead. He asked one of the local people what that meant. After pondering for a while, the villager said, “It all happened so long ago that I can’t remember the particulars. But I really think the letters are an abbreviation for the word “Saint.”
Thesis: A Christian Is... A Saint. Several questions tonight
I. What is a saint?
The Greek word translated “saint” in the NT is used 56 times. This word can also be translated as “holy ones” or “sanctified ones.” Literally the word means “to be set apart, to belong exclusively to God.”
In the OT we read that the temple and many objects in the temple were sanctified or holy. Priests were called holy. They were all set apart because they belonged exclusively to God. In the NT, however, we do not read of holy places or holy objects. We read only about holy people.
Peter says this: “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”” 1 Peter 1:15, 16, NIV.
Paul tells us that God: “has saved us and called us to a holy life” 2 Timothy 1:9, NIV.
Every Christian Is a Saint:
Paul called the Roman, Corinthian, Ephesian, Philippian, and Colossian Christians saints in NT
Because of years of false teachings, many view saints as super spiritual Christians, an elite group. Talk to the average person today and a saint is a person who is extraordinarily good. St. so and so everywhere, St. Peter, St. Benedict, St. Joe, St. Bernards. Even the best Christians are hesitant to refer to themselves as saints because of this false idea of what it means to be a saint.
How does a saint live?
According to the Bible we become saints the moment we become a Christian. The word “saint” does not mean “morally perfect.” When Paul wrote to the Christians in Corinth he addressed them as “saints.” Read these letters to the Corinthians and we will soon discover these Christians were far from being “saint like” in the way we define the word today. In spite of their immaturity, worldliness and confusion Paul referred to them as saints.
Saints are to abstain from certain things:
“You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality.” Acts 15:29, NIV.
“Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.” 1 Peter 2:11, NIV.
Abstain from all forms of impurity: “For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.” 1 Thessalonians 4:7, NIV.
Many groups have rules that expand on this: don’t dance, don’t play cards or dice, don’t go to movies, don’t drink, don’t shoot pool, don’t go the swimming pool. Women must wear long skirts, never cut their hair and never wear make up or jewelry. Jack Cottrell said that to these people God is “The Great Prohititor who does nothing but erect stop signs and sit behind billboards waiting for us to run them.” Carlos Ortiz said that he grew up in a strict church. He said they had all kinds of rules as to what a Christian was not supposed to do. They even said Christians should not whistle because this was the sound the serpent made when he approached EVe. He also said, “We did not, however, have any rule against gossiping.”
We need to abstain from certain things but many times this is abused. Focused more on externals like the Pharisees who had a rule for everything. “Their teachings are but rules taught by men.’”” Matthew 15:9, NIV.
B. Saints are to be like God
“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:22-24