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How many times have you heard a person say in defense of himself, “I’m no saint”? The term “saint” seems a little foreign to most people. It usually has the meaning of being perfect, a very good person, or a goody-two-shoes. Many times people refer to those who have died as real saints!
Paul uses the term “saints” most frequently in the New Testament. Basically, Paul calls anyone who has a personal faith relationship with Jesus a saint.
Then, we all know of the practice within the Roman Catholic Church to determine who has become a saint. In this case, the person being considered for sainthood must have been dead for, at least, 5 years. There are four steps, culminating in documenting that this candidate for Sainthood has interceded in a person’s life, where two miracles occurred.
So, using the Jesus filter, I want to examine the following: “What does it mean to be a saint? Or, what does the term “saint” mean?” Once we settle on the definition, I want to share what I think is the greatest misunderstanding of what it means.
It’s important to note that Jesus didn’t call anyone a saint, however Jesus did use a form of this word. One of these is found in what we call the Lord’s prayer. He says, “Our Father who is in heaven. Hallowed be your name.”Another way to say this is, “May your name be viewed as holy.” Jesus also uses this term “holy”, a different form of the term “saint”, in his prayer in John 17: “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.”
What does Jesus mean by sanctify or make someone holy? Holy signifies “to set apart for God, to sanctify, to make a person or thing the opposite of “koinos”, which means common. Jesus believes that a person can be sanctified or made holy by the truth.
OK, here is how I believe many have misunderstood what it means to be holy. Growing up, I was taught that being holy was to be separated unto God. And we were! We were so separated unto God that we were not allowed to dance, go to movies or be close friends with the world. But this isn’t the full definition of holy.
Holy means to be separated unto God, for sure, but there is more to it. We are to be separated unto God for His purpose and mission. To be separated unto God without being separated for His purpose or mission is to be isolated from the rest of the world. You will become God’s holy huddle! God didn’t send Jesus to earth for those who follow him to huddle up. In fact, Jesus came to break up the man-made huddles. If you are going to huddle up, then huddle up for God’s purpose and mission. This is being genuinely holy. Holy doesn’t mean to be someone extra special for God, but to be set apart for God’s use. He is the extra special one who has a mission just for you!