His Holy People

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His Holy People
10.31.23 [1 Corinthians 1:2, 30] River of Life (Monthly Devotional)
Have you ever received mail that wasn’t meant for you? Sometimes it’s just junk mail meant for the people who lived there before you. Other times, the mail carrier made a mistake and delivered a letter or a package that was meant for someone down the street.
You don’t have to wait until you open something to figure out if it was meant for you. That’s because most letters and packages have more than just an address. They include a name, too.
When people like Paul and Peter wrote the letters we know as New Testament books, they included an address line, too. Sometimes, it would be very simple and straightforward address. To the churches in Galatia or to the church of the Thessalonians. But in a number of Paul’s letters he would say something more. He would name them. To the Romans, he wrote (Rom. 1:7) To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be his holy people. To the Ephesians, he wrote: (Eph. 1:1) To God’s holy people in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus. He did the same in the letters we know today as Philippians and Colossians, too.
Without knowing these people, we might think the reason that Paul calls the Romans and the Ephesians God’s holy people would be because that’s how they lived. And maybe we would suspect that the folks in the region of Galatia or in the city of Thessalonika were just not quite so devoted to living the right way.
But 1st Corinthians puts that hunch in its place. As you read through this letter, Paul doesn’t pull any punches. He knew that the people in Corinth were not quite so devoted to doing things God’s way. They set aside God’s righteous standards and celebrated sin, thinking that this was evidence of their deep understanding of God’s grace. Their celebrations of the Lord’s Supper were getting some people drunk and leaving others empty-handed. Their worship services were a disorganized and unintelligible mess. Some of them didn’t even think that Christ’s physical resurrection was important. Some of Paul’s harshest rebukes were directed their way. Few would have looked at their lives and called them holy people.
But God did. The Holy Spirit inspired the Apostle Paul to address them this way: (1 Cor. 1:2) To the church of God in Corinth. To those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be his holy people, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—their Lord and ours…
Did you see what God did there? He didn’t just call the Corinthians holy, he included you and me, too! All those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. How can Paul call us holy?
Doesn’t he know how we have failed to do good so many times? Doesn’t he know how much we struggle not to say hurtful and harmful things? Doesn’t he know that we wrestle with wicked and sinful thoughts every single day?
Paul didn’t know you. But God knows this about you. Because it was true about Paul, too. Every Christian struggles with a sinful nature. But don’t underestimate the power of God’s call.
Paul talks about that power in 1 Corinthians 1. He writes: (1 Cor. 1:26-28) Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise or influential by human standards. But God chose the foolish things of this world to shame the wise. God chose the weak things of this world to shame the strong. God chose lowly and despised things of this world to bring the very things that bring him glory in this world. It is because of this God that we are in Christ Jesus. Being in Christ Jesus, calling on his name, means that God has made his Son to become for us wisdom from God, that is our righteousness, holiness, and redemption.
Being called holy by God is not about what you’ve done, but what God has done for you through his Son. Jesus lived righteously, doing everything the Law of God demands. Jesus lived a holy life, every word and thought was fixated on God’s will and plan. Jesus sacrificed his life for our redemption. He paid the price for our sins. He rose to life for our justification. When we stand before God on that last day, we don’t have to wonder what he’ll say or do. We have been declared not guilty by Jesus, the Judge of the Living and the Dead.
God did that. And God wants us to live with that certainty in this life. Our eternal future is not up in the air. We don’t need to be anxious or worried as if the jury’s still out. Christ has declared: It is finished. All those who call on the name of the Lord will be saved and will join him in paradise. That’s a promise that God’s addressed to you. Until next time, may God bless and keep you as his holy people.
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