The Bible uses the word saint for the rank-and-file believer...The word simply means "holy one"...It seems odd that the term is used for believers who were struggling with all sorts of sin. When we read the epistles of Paul, we are struck by the fact that he addresses the people as saints and then goes on to rebuke them for their foolish and sinful behavior.
The saints of Scripture were called saints not because they were already pure but because they were people who were set apart and called to purity.Using Romans 12: 1-2, Dr. Sproul discusses the idea that the Christian life should be one of non-conformity and transformation:
The Bible calls us "holy ones." We are holy because we have been consecrated to God. We have been set apart. We have been called to a life that is different. The Christian life is a life of non-conformity. The idea of non-conformity is expressed in Romans:
"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will."
...In light of the gracious justification that Christ achieved for us, the only reasonable conclusion we can reach is that we ought to present ourselves totally to God as walking, breathing, living sacrifices. What does the living sacrifice look like? Paul first describes it in terms of nonconformity.But not a superficial nonconformity:
A superficial style of nonconformity is the classical pharisaical trap. The kingdom of God is not about buttons, movies, or dancing. The concern of God is not focused on what we eat or what we drink. The call of nonconformity is a call to a deeper level of righteousness that goes beyond externals.
Anyone can avoid dancing or going to movies. These require no great effort of moral courage. What is difficult is to control the tongue, to act with integrity, to reveal the fruit of the Spirit.We're called not only to not conform, but to be transformed:
True transformation comes by gaining a new understanding of God, ourselves, and the world. What we are after ultimately is to be conformed to the image of Christ. We are to be like Jesus, though not in the sense that we can ever gain deity. We are not god-men. But our humanity is to mirror and reflect the perfect humanity of Jesus. A tall order!How are we transformed? By renewing our minds, being conformed to Jesus:
To be conformed to Jesus, we must first begin to think as Jesus did. We need the "mind of Christ." We need to value the things He values and despise the things He despises. We need to have the same priorities He has. We need to consider weighty the things that He considers weighty.
That cannot happen without a mastery of His Word. The key to spiritual growth is in-depth Christian education that requires a serious level of sacrifice. That is the call to excellence we have received.A discussion of sanctification and the fruits of the Spirit follows. As always, I enjoyed this week's reading. The practical application was motivating.
For more discussion, visit Tim's blog.