“Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons.” (Philippians 1:1, NIV84)
Today, we begin a series of devotions on the book of Philippians. This book is one of my favorite Pauline letters. The Philippian church has it going on. These people seem to be doing a lot of things right. Most of Paul’s letter to them is positive encouragement. It’s a great letter to read if you’re a Christian, or a church, who wants to know whether you’re doing it right. Paul begins by calling the Christians in Philippi “saints.” If you look at the beginning of most of Paul’s letters, he uses this term to describe the Christians he is writing to. The word “saint” comes from a Greek word meaning “holy one” or “set apart one.” I believe that Paul is trying to tell us two things by using this term.
First, we are truly saints, “holy” in the eyes of God because we as Christians have been set free from our sin through the death and resurrection of Jesus. His blood has washed all our sins away, and so we are perfect in God’s eyes. John says in his first letter that “the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin.” I know that this is hard to grasp. We can look in the mirror and see who we really are. We can close our eyes and our memory can convict us of our sins. But the truth of the matter is, because we believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior, our sins have been completely removed. God has thrown them “as far as the east is from the west” and He remembers them no more (Psalm 103:12).
Second, we have been “set apart” from our enslavement to the kingdom of this world, and we have been made citizens of God’s heavenly kingdom. We have been set apart so that we might have a lasting effect on the world we live in. We are called to live in the world but not to be of it. God has set us apart like one would put a candle on the center of a table so that it might illuminate the room. The Lord wants us to illuminate the world through our words and our lives. He calls us to live obediently to His Word so that we might reveal the heart and will of God to the darkened world in which we live.
Today, call yourself a saint a few times. It’s OK! I promise! Be assured of your forgiveness because of Jesus’ atoning sacrifice. Live as one who God has set apart for a special purpose, because He has.