Summary: We were called to the end that we might be holy.
II. CALLED TO BE HOLY
A. CALLED TO BELONG TO JESUS
Paul numbers the saints in Rome with those of all nations who are “obedient to the faith” (Romans 1:5). Amongst all these, Christian believer, you are “the called” of Jesus Christ. This calling is efficacious, and connects us with our Lord Jesus Christ, so that nothing and no-one can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:39).
B. CALLED “SAINTS”
Paul addresses this epistle to all the beloved of God that are in Rome, "called saints." The verb “to be” does not appear in the original text, so when God calls us “saints” that is what we are: He looks at us through the prism of our association with Jesus, and sees the end from the beginning. Rome was the very hub of the Empire, the capital of the world, the seat of politics, a centre of philosophy and idolatry: it is amazing that, even there, there were those whom God loved, and whom He was calling to sanctification.
C. SANCTIFIED IN CHRIST JESUS
At Corinth, too, there were those who were “called saints.” Along with everyone who in every place calls upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, these believers were “sanctified” - set apart by their union with Jesus for the service of God - and called saints.
D. “WASHED, SANCTIFIED, JUSTIFIED”
Paul reminds the Corinthians of their former lost state. They were unrighteous, without hope, and without God in this world (cf. Ephesians 2:12). The Apostle lists the sins of which they were formerly partakers.
“Such were some of you, but” he says (1 Corinthians 6:11) … They are justified (passive voice): they are put in a right standing before God, by God. They are sanctified (passive voice): they are set apart for God, by God. They were born again when they responded to the gospel by faith: hence they “are washed” (the Greek of this verb is NOT in the passive voice, but in the ‘middle voice’ - which implies their involvement).
The implications of being sanctified are seen in the final two verses of this chapter (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). The gospel has called us out of uncleanness into purity, out of immorality into the realm of holiness. We are challenged to a life set apart for Him, and should live accordingly.
E. OUR HOLY CALLING
Knowing that He was not long for this world (2 Timothy 4:6-8), Paul reminded Timothy of the salvation and holy calling which are ours in Christ Jesus.
A vessel in the Temple needs to kept free from defilement (cf. 2 Timothy 2:21). In like manner, we are to hate even the garment spotted by the flesh (Jude 23). We need to be constantly given over to the service of God (1 Thessalonians 4:7).