Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints in Ephesus, the believers in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 1:1, ESV).
Imagine you are introducing a friend for the first time and you say, ‘This is an old friend of mine. She is a saint.’ Most people would think you meant she was an outstandingly good person. A rare human being like a Mother Teresa or a Count Zinzendorf.
But our text tells us that every believer is a saint (see also Rom 1:7; 1 Cor 1:2; 2 Cor 2:1; Phil 1:1,21).
In the original language of the New Testament, ‘saint’ and ‘holy’ are one and the same word. The term ‘holy’ basically means ‘separate’. In other words when we are in Christ we are separated from the world and its ways. We are different. Our values are different. Our hopes and dreams are different. Our relationships are different. Our future is different. We cannot live any longer for the things of this world. How can we lie, or cheat, or hate, or envy, or resent, or inflict pain, or commit adultery, or steal, or kill?
This is both a responsibility and a privilege. We are responsible to live godly, sinless lives. To be different. But how can we do this? That’s where the privilege comes in. We do it by being ‘in Christ Jesus’. When we link ourselves to Christ we are necessarily separate from sin and evil. It cannot be otherwise. All we need to do is remain in Christ.
So the apostle also addresses us as ‘believers in him’. It is by faith that we live as saints. We cannot do it alone. As Jesus Christ only did—and does—holy things, when we are in him, so do we. But what if we don’t? We’ll come to that later. But meanwhile it is important to know that by faith, by trusting him, we can rely on him to live a new, holy, godly life.
1. How does the realisation that you are holy by being in Christ help you to live a holy life?
2. On a scale of one (little) to ten (much) how do you describe your holiness? First from God’s viewpoint. Second from yours.
3. Memorise Ephesians 1:1.