1 Corinthians 1:1-3. Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes, 2 To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Our strategy has been to move through Paul’s writings chronologically and trace the growth of his theology of our union with Christ. Galatians was one of Paul’s first letters, and today we will begin to look at another early letter of Paul’s, I Corinthians.
“To live is Christ” is to be sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints. To be sanctified is to be set apart, or holy (it’s the same word). To have a new purpose for life. You see we aren’t just saved FROM sin, and death, and hell. We are saved TO holiness. We are made holy so that we can be holy. We are sanctified in Christ (Position) so that we could live our lives as saints (Condition). Our ongoing sanctification, or growth by Christ in us, is always rooted in our accomplished sanctification or fullness of growth because we are in Christ.
This address to the Christians in Corinth is actually pretty stunning. As you read the letter it doesn’t take long to see that this is a pretty messed up church. Sexual sin, fighting, division, boasting, gluttony, legal disputes, and even super spirituality plague this church. And yet Paul calls them sanctified saints.
And so there is hope in life. No matter how messed up we are or become, we can rest in knowing that we are also sanctified saints. God’s possession. God’s instrument set aside for his use. We are able to enter the holy place- right now, every day for eternity.
And there is meaning in life. We have a purpose- be holy. Why is that such a big deal? Because God is made known and glorified by our lives. If our lives look like God, then God is made famous. If our lives don’t look like God, or dishonor God, then God will be dismissed as irrelevant at best, and straight up blasphemed at worst.
It’s important to note that the Corinthians have the exact opposite problem as the Galatians. The Galatians substituted the Spirit of Christ for the law of Moses. But the Corinthians don’t have an Old Testament Law problem. They have a spirituality problem. They have gone too far in the other direction. All “Spirit” without the love of Christ. Their attitude would be “we’re so spiritual we can do whatever we want.” But our spirituality must always, always, always be bounded by the law of love, the law of Christ (Gal. 6:2).
Do you see yourself as sanctified? Are you able to see how your ongoing sanctification is rooted in your full sanctification through Christ? Do you see holiness as your purpose in life- to make God known by your life?
As you think through your personal holiness, watch this video about God’s holiness to start.