I’m a saint.
I’m not talking the figurative idea of a saint – the goody-two-shoes person who never does anything wrong. Or even the sarcastic version – the person who is so bad they’re called a saint in jest or anger.
Oh no. I am a real life, honest-to-goodness, bona fide saint.
The thing is that there is a real misconception in the world about what a saint is. The idea that tends to get around is that a saint is someone that did something stupendous for God, who performed some kind of miracle, or who was a martyr.
But that’s just not in the Bible. Anywhere.
What IS in the Bible is this:
- In Ephesians 1:1 Paul wrote, “To the saints who are in Ephesus, and faithful in Christ Jesus…” This was the beginning of a letter Paul was writing to a church full of people who had accepted the salvation Jesus offered.
- In Romans 1:7 he said, “To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Again, just a group of Christians who lived in Rome.
- In Philippians 1:1 the letter to the church in Philippi begins, “To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons.”
I’m pretty sure that there weren’t whole churches of people doing history-making things in the name of Jesus. I’m also sure that there weren’t whole churches of people walking around performing miracles. And I’m positive Paul wasn’t writing letters to a bunch of dead martyrs.
Obviously, that’s not the definition of a saint.
In 1 Corinthians 1:2, at the beginning of yet another letter, the Bible gives a really clear definition of what makes someone a saint. It says, “To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord…”
A saint is someone who has been “sanctified in Christ Jesus.” There we go! All cleared up, right? It’s sanctification. Plain as the nose on my face.
Or at least as plainly as you can see my nose at this moment. Clear as mud.
Sanctification, as best I can explain it, is a separation from the world to God. I actually like the way Merriam-Webster defines this one: “to set apart for a sacred purpose.” This is the same word that is used in Exodus when the Lord is telling the Israelites to do things like setting the altar apart as a sacred thing (Exodus 29:37) or when He commanded that Aaron and his sons would be set apart from society to serve as priests (Exodus 28:4).
The thing is, so far, this definition sounds a lot like the super special people that everyone thinks saints are.
So here’s where the craziness comes in.
Hebrews 10:10 says, “By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”
Jesus Christ, when He died on the Cross and took all the punishment for our sins, made it possible for us to be set aside to God, apart from our sins, to be used by God for His purposes. He sanctified us! God can see us as righteous because He sees Jesus’s righteousness in place of our sin. If we recognize that we need Jesus’s payment for those sin and admit that He is the only Way, then we can be saved and sanctified.
Just like everything else good, God deserves all the glory for sainthood. It’s not about the amazing feats that people may perform, it’s about a God who worked a miracle and sacrificed Himself so that we can know Him.
That’s why I am a saint. When I was 5 years old I knelt down with my parents and told God that I was a sinner who needed His mercy and who could never get to Heaven without Him. I told Him that I knew that Jesus had died on the Cross for me and I asked Him to be my Savior.
And at 5 years old, I stepped into sanctified sainthood.
(Although I doubt it was all that eloquent at 5 years old…)