Are You a Saint?
What does it actually mean to be a saint? As the word “saint” has come to have quite the connotation! So then, can one only become a saint after one dies, or can a person become a saint now? Intimately connected with this is righteousness. We could ask, must I be righteous in order to be a saint? If so, how do we acquire this righteousness? Let us then examine this most critical topic!
What is a Saint?
We often have in our mind that a saint is an exceptionally righteous person! However, this in some sense is not a correct definition.This further leads to the erroneous thinking that a person can only become a saint after death, and that because of them being an exceptionally good person! This of course is a system of works and not one of grace.
Much rather, a saint is tied in with the word sanctification and holiness. We find then, that a saint is someone separated from the world and unto God. We read of this separation here, “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son.” (Colossians 1:13) Yes, there was a change of ownership! We read, “And you were dead in trespasses and sins in which you once walked…following the prince of the power of the air.” (Ephesians 2:1-2) Yet now, “You are not your own, for you were bought with a price.” (1 Cor. 6:19-20) That price? “Ransomed…with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.” (1 Peter 1:18-19)
We repeatedly find “believers,” or Christians, called “saints” in the Bible. For example, “To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi.” (Philippians 1:1) Clearly, these saints are alive on Earth and did not have to wait till after their death to become such! Truth is, all who are truly Christians, are saints. We don’t do good to become a saint. Much rather, we are called to do good because we are saints! As a child may turn 18 years of age. This child did not have to act like an 18-year-old to become 18. Instead, we might tell that 18 year to stop acting like a child! However, the childish conduct would not make the 18-year-old a child again. So it is with those who have become saints!
Am I Righteous?
Righteousness, we must have it to enter Heaven, but do we? Fact is, we must have a righteousness equal to that of God Almighty’s. Question is, do I have a righteousness that is equal to that of God’s righteousness? Reality is, even if I could be one of those “exceptionally good people,” it still wouldn’t be equal to that of God’s righteousness!
I fear that many, many people, are trying hard to be righteous enough to get into Heaven! They’re trying to obey the Ten Commandments to get! They’re trying to keep the Sabbath to get in. They’re trying to follow certain rules to get. They’re trying to do certain rituals or good deeds to get in! Yet, none of these things will give us a righteousness equal to that of God Almighty’s! We all fall desperately short of hitting this “bull’s eye”! Therefore, we are all given a failing grade. None of us passed the test. Indeed, “None is righteous, no, not one.” (Romans 3:10) This puts us squarely on the “broad road” to the Lake of Fire!
This is where God’s love comes onto the scene! Yes, God comes in offering us mercy. God offers to deal with us in grace! Indeed, God offers to take care of our sinfulness and to give us righteousness! How?
First of all, “The LORD laid on him the iniquity [sin] of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6) Absolutely, some 2000 years ago it was finished on your behalf! The sin of your entire lifetime was all heaped upon the Righteous One! He took the whole penalty for it all! No question, just like receiving a gift we did nothing for, so we receive the free gift of eternal life! It is God’s gracious gift that He offers one and all! Question is, will you receive this tremendous gift from God for yourself?
Yes, we can make a life-long effort to attain righteousness! However, all will likewise fail in this endeavor. No, it is only Christ’s righteousness granted the one that places their trust in the completed work of Christ upon the cross, that will be granted “saint status”! It is only Christ’s righteousness granted the ungodly person, that will have a right to Heaven!
We find several plain statements from God’s Holy Word. First, “All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” (~Isaiah 64:6) Quite clearly, my own righteousness won’t work. It didn’t work for Adam & Eve with their fig leaves. Neither did it work for Cain and his offering of veggies! Much rather we read, “Much more will those who receive [not work for or obey or be good] the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness…” (Romans 5:17) Again, “For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own [via the commandments, or being good, or baptism, or other self-effort], they did not submit to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” (Romans 10:3-4) Yes, Jesus’s righteousness is the only answer for the guilty ungodly person! It is this grace, extended to us by God, that is our one and only hope! Yes, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)
This is why we read it this way, “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness.” (Isaiah 61:10) Note, it was not something self did by obedience, but something God did for the ungodly one! Indeed, when we throw ourselves at the feet of Jesus, understanding that we are helpless, undeserving sinners, that God extends His hand of compassion to us and heals us of “leprosy”! Yes, leprosy is a type of sin in the Word of God! Nothing could cure the leper! Their only hope was Jesus! And Jesus is the ungodly one’s only hope also! Stop trying to cure yourself and cry out for Jesus to save you just now!
Jesus’s righteousness is the only righteousness that God looks upon and accepts, just as Abel’s offering so aptly typified! This, my friend, is the only answer to a troubled conscience! It is the only answer, to quiet our hearts, and gives us the assurance that we have, right now, eternal life! Yes, our having eternal life, rests solely in Jesus Christ! It is His righteousness, not my self-righteousness! Don’t trust in your self-righteousness, but in the righteousness of Christ credited to your account! Why not be debt-free today and forever! Jesus paid it all for you, and His righteousness is granted you as a gift! It covers all debt! Count on Jesus, not yourself!
“The gospel…that Christ died for our sins accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” (1 Cor. 15:1-4)
Remember God’s promise, it is the way I close my posts, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13)
Victor J Reimer
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Photo credit: “Prayer” by Chris Yarzab
*Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version (ESV), copyrighted © 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved.