Saint, Not Sinner

What usually happens when someone pays you a compliment? See if any of these responses fits you.

  1. You avert the compliment by immediately changing the subject.
  2. You put yourself down with some self-deprecating remark, or you deny the compliment.
  3. You assume it’s a natural setup for a take-down.
  4. You append the compliment with a similar return compliment

Why do some of us do those things? It may be because . . .

  • we don’t believe what the one complimenting us is telling us,
  • we don’t feel worthy of the recognition and praise, or
  • we don’t feel comfortable when others recognize our strengths or our accomplishments.

Here’s a compliment for you. If you’re a born-from-above believer in Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord . . .Are you ready for this? . . .You are a saint.

That’s not what I’m calling you. That’s not what your Bible study teacher or your pastor calls you. That’s what God calls you.

The English word “saint” is a translation of the Greek word “hagios.”

“Hagios” is usually used to refer to believers and is usually translated “saint”. It is found 233 times in 221 verses in the New Testament. (NOTE: The word “Christian” only appears three times in the KJV and only seven times in some other translations) In Greek “saint” literally means, “the set apart ones”. This means that the believer in Jesus Christ is “set apart” for the greatest privileges and greatest opportunities that have ever existed for believers in all ages.

A reader recently disagreed with me in her comment because she felt like a sinner, she didn’t feel like a saint. She was still beating herself up over some critical comments she made about a friend more than a year before. “I don’t know if you feel like a saint,” she said, “but I don’t because I still have an inclination to sin and so did Paul.”

This reader apparently did not grasp the truth about our identity in Christ: “Who we are in Christ has absolutely nothing to do with how we feel.”  Just because we don’t feel like a saint doesn’t mean we aren’t one. We all will have the inclination to sin. And we will sin. So did Paul. But if we know (and believe) our true identity in Christ, as Paul did, we will believe that God sees us as saints. Until that reader eases up on her self-condemnation she won’t be able to enjoy her life as a saint.

In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians he was attempting to correct problems in the Corinthian church, particularly jealousy, divisiveness, sexuality and failure to discipline members. The Corinthians were incorporating beliefs from surrounding pagan religions and watering down the Gospel message Paul had taught them.

Paul begins his letter, “To the church of God in Corinth.” In the Greek “church” is translated “ecclesia”. It means that both individually and collectively we are “called out”. We are taken out of one place (the world, eternal damnation) and put in another (positioned in Christ for sanctification, salvation, eternal life, and intimate fellowship with God).

Paul continues in 1 Corinthians 1:1, “to those sanctified in Christ Jesus. . .” The word “sanctified” comes from the Greek work “hagiazo”, which means to set apart for God’s purposes.  Jesus asked His Father to sanctify his disciples and all believers in John 17. “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world,” Jesus said. “Sanctify them in the truth: Thy word is truth.” Sanctification is a state of separation unto God; all believers enter into this state when they are born of God.

We are not of this world, although we are living in the world. We have been set apart, (sanctified) for eternity, for God’s purpose. When you look at the Greek application of “hagiazo” (sanctified) it is the perfect passive participle form of the word. The “perfect” label means the action was completed. The “passive” form means it is a work done in us in the past. It’s a done deal. The fat lady sang. No one can ever change that. In other words when God makes you a saint, you can’t decide one day to back out.  You can back slide but you can’t back out. You’re a saint forever.

And because it’s the participle form of the word, in the Greek that means it is an ongoing process. We are “being sanctified” every day as the Holy Spirit works in us to make us more and more like Jesus.

The English word “saint” is a translation of the Greek word “hagios” meaning, “saint” or “the set apart one.”

“Hagios” is usually used to refer to believers and is usually translated “saint.” It is found 233 times in 221 verses in the New Testament. It actually means, “the set apart ones.” This means that the believer in Jesus Christ is “set apart” for the greatest privileges and greatest opportunities that have ever existed for believers in all ages.¹

Isaiah tells us how God sees us before we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior:

“All of us have become like one who is unclean; and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags. We all shrivel up like a leaf and our sins sweep us away.” Isaiah 64:6-7.

But the translation on “saint” in the Greek implies that someone is to be taken from an awful thing to a holy thing, separated to righteousness.

That’s who we are today, righteous and holy. Set apart for God’s purpose for our lives. Made holy to glorify Him.

We are NOT sinners. Unrepentant, unsaved sinners go to hell. We still sin, because we still have the freedom of choice God gave us in the Garden of Eden. And we’ll have it until we draw our last breath on earth.

We are NOT sinners saved by grace. We are saved by grace, but as soon as we are, our sin nature is gone. We are new creatures in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). No longer sinners. No matter what we do. No matter how we feel.

If you still feel like a sinner, you may have un-confessed sin haunting you. Pray and ask God to show you your sin. He will. Then confess it to God (it’s already forgiven). It’s time to forgive yourself and move on so you can bask in the blessings of your life as a saint of the Most High God.

Thank you so much for stopping by and tuning in.You bless me more than I can say.

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A message by Pastor Ron Swift at One Heart Church in Duluth, Georgia was the inspiration for this post.

10 thoughts on “Saint, Not Sinner

  1. Steven, as an Episopalian nearly all of my adult life, I was very thrilled to have the exact grounding in Grace and being a Saint in the eyes of God you have expounded upon in this post. Hallelujah!


  2. Good post Stephen. Some of that confusion is in the definition of “saint” and the focus on law/old covenant instead of the grace. Our sin – the worlds sin did put Jesus on the cross but HE also said it IS finished! A few questions also led me to saint definition … http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint – it shared some very good points.


    1. Thanks for the link, Judi. Love this statement: “In Christian usage, “saint” refers to any believer who is “in Christ”, and in whom Christ dwells, whether in heaven or in earth.” Good thought. Thanks for your comment.


      1. I liked your post and like when something makes me dig further for understanding. I’m used to writing my brother in laws name so sorry for the misspelling. Peace to you Steven.


      2. No problem with the name, Judi. I’m so glad you liked the words God gave me to share. He’s my source for my blog posts and everything else. God bless you and thanks for stopping by.


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