I have another picture for you. If you are a born again believer in Jesus Christ, just take a look in the mirror. According to Romans 1:7 you are looking at a saint! In that verse Paul addressed his letter, “To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints.” In the Bible the words “to be” are italicized, which indicates they were added by translators. The literal text simply says we are “called saints.”
In its long history, the Catholic Church has officially recognized only around 3,000 people as saints, and this posthumously. But according to the apostle Paul, all believers are saints here and now! Sainthood is not something achieved by good works or self-deprivation. It’s something received at the moment of salvation. It isn’t an honor granted by a religious organization. It’s a calling given by God Himself.
Just as Paul was “called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God” (Romans 1:1), we are “called to be saints.” The word “saint” carries the idea of separation. It’s actually a twofold separation. As Christians we are separated from the world, and separated unto God. We are separated from sin, and separated unto holiness. As Paul said in Romans 8:28, we are now “the called according to His purpose.” We now live for the purposes of God.
Paul’s calling as an apostle happened during his encounter with the risen Christ on the road to Damascus (Acts 9). Paul wasn’t required to go on three missionary journeys, plant numerous churches, write thirteen books of the Bible, and die a martyr’s death before he could be an apostle. He became an apostle lying flat on his back on the road to Damascus. Paul then spent the rest of his life living out his calling.
Likewise, we were called saints the moment we surrendered our lives to Jesus Christ. A holy life of separation and service to the Lord is lived not in order to become a saint, but because you are one!
This simple statement in Romans 1:7 changes our perspective and motivation in the Christian life. It enables us to understand who we are in Christ, and why we serve Him. Rather than knocking yourself out trying to achieve something that’s already been achieved, focus your energies on living out the calling you have received from the Lord. Live up to it, and live it out.
Pastor Todd Weston