Almost everyone today claims to be a Christian. Many, however, who take the name of Christian do not live as Christians with the result that they cheapen the name. Think, for example, of the professional athletes who claim to be Christian but regularly profane the Sabbath day with their ball playing. Think of the entertainers, who claim to sing God’s praises as Christians, but who do so with music that is God-dishonoring and that comes out of the drug culture. Think of the big-name televangelists (Jimmy Swaggert, Jim and Tammy Baker) who have not only lived in immorality but robbed the poor in the name of Jesus Christ. Think of countless others who call themselves Christian but who divorce and remarry, curse and swear, violate the Sabbath day, lie and steal contrary to the clear will of God. All this only serves to cheapen the name Christian.
We must not so cheapen the name Christian but honor it.
We do so when we live as a saint, a soldier and an athlete.
Today we call attention to the fact that a Christian is a saint.
WHAT IS A SAINT?
The word “saint” means one who is holy. A saint, therefore, is one who is holy in Jesus Christ.
In the Bible holiness has the basic idea of being separated, set apart from everything else.
Thus, for example, the O.T. temple was holy in that it was separate, distinct from all other buildings in Israel. It was holy in that it was the dwelling place of God, to be used in a special way in the service of God.
In like manner, a saint is one who is set apart. That which sets him apart from others is not the color of his skin or the amount of money he has. He is set apart from others spiritually.
The human race of which we are a part is corrupt and evil. Down through history mankind has trampled underfoot the good commandments of God. The history of mankind has been a sad story of murder, dishonesty, stealing, immorality, profanity and every sin imaginable. This also characterizes society today.
A saint is one who stands apart from all that. He is one who doesn’t live like the world lives. He has forsaken a life devoted to sin in order to live a life devoted to the service of the living God. He is one separated from sin, separated unto God.
That which separates the saint from sin to the living God is the saving work of Jesus Christ.
On account of his natural birth the saint is spiritually no different than anyone else. He is born corrupt, depraved, evil. His life is devoted to sin and evil.
What sets a saint apart spiritually from the rest of society is that he has been saved in Jesus Christ.
We must remember that salvation in Jesus Christ does not consist simply of the forgiveness of sins and rescue from the fires of hell. Salvation is that; but it is so much more. Salvation is also a radical change that Jesus Christ works in a person’s life spiritually. When Jesus saves a person, He delivers him from the power of sin. He changes the heart so that there is a turning away from sin and a turning to God in righteous living. The change that Jesus accomplishes in a person’s life is so radical that he becomes a new creature. It’s as though he was born again.
This work of salvation is called sanctification, i.e., a making holy.
Through this great work of salvation one becomes a saint, i.e., a holy one.
This work of salvation Jesus Christ works in all those whom God has ordained to eternal life.
Young people, you are saints!
Its rather interesting that in his epistles the apostle Paul frequently addressed the members of the churches as saints of God. When Paul did this, he was addressing not just the adults of the congregations but also the young people and children.
Young people and children of the church are saints of God because of God’s covenant.
Being raised in the Protestant Reformed Churches you know very well what the covenant is. Our churches emphasize the doctrine of the covenant. The covenant is God’s friendship with His elect people in Jesus Christ. And what does God do as the friend of His people? He saves them in Jesus Christ. That’s the greatest act of love God can possibly show to those who belong to His covenant.
Another wonderful reality of the covenant is that God establishes His covenant with families. God’s covenant of love and salvation is with parents and their children. There are exceptions to this, of course. Born into the covenant home of Isaac and Rebekah was not only Jacob, whom God loved, but also Esau, whom God hated. There have been many Esau’s or reprobates born into covenant families that never are brought by God to faith and salvation. Neither are they true members of God’s covenant. Yet God does place His elect children into the homes of believing parents. With these God establishes His covenant of grace and brings them to a great salvation in Jesus Christ.
Since these covenant families comprise the church, Paul addressed the members of the church, young and old, as saints of God.
For that reason I also address you today as saints.
You have been born of covenant, believing parents. That makes you children of the covenant.
Most of you have come already to a conscious faith and salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ. Some of you have already made confession of your faith in Jesus Christ. You are saints of God. And I am addressing you as such today.
Should there be any here who do not believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior, I call you in Jesus’ name to turn to Him and believe, that you too may have the knowledge of blessings of salvation.
HOW WE ARE TO LIVE AS BECOMES SAINTS:
I want to call your attention at this point to a very important passage of Scripture: Eph. 5:3 & 4, “But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not once be named among you, as becometh saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient, but rather giving of thanks.”
Notice, that the apostle Paul speaks here of what “becometh saints.”
The word “becometh” means “fit, appropriate.”
The perspective of Paul is that there is a behavior that is becoming or appropriate for saints and a behavior that is not appropriate for saints. It is Paul’s concern that we behave ourselves in a way that is appropriate for saints.
The apostle finds this kind of urging necessary because, even though we are saints, we often do things that are quite inappropriate for saints. As we have seen that as saints there is the work of grace in our hearts that has changed us and made us spiritually separate from the world. And when we live according to this work of grace in us, we do that which is becoming to saints. However, this work of salvation is not yet complete in us. It is only begun. We still have a sinful nature, full of evil. And when we act according to that sinful nature, as we often do, we behave in a way not appropriate for saints.
It is our solemn calling to live as becomes saints of God.
This means, according to Eph. 5:3 & 4 that certain things must be named among us and certain things must not.
Paul makes mention specifically of sexual sins. He speaks of fornication, which is a rather broad term and includes such things as premarital sex, extra-marital sex (adultery) and homosexuality. Paul also speaks of unclean sexual desires (“all uncleanness and covetousness”). He speaks finally of filthy talk that distorts sex and brings it down to the gutter (“neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting”)
Concerning these Paul admonishes, “Let it not once be named among you.”
We must understand that our behavior, whether positive or negative, will be the topic of discussion in the church. It will be talked about among yourselves, as young people. Your parents will talk about it with each other and with you. Your behavior will also be the topic of discussion by the minister in the catechism room and from the pulpit. It will be dealt with in family visitation. In short, it will be named among us.
The word of God indicates that our behavior must be such that these sexual sins never be named among us as problems.
For this is not becoming to the saints of God. How inappropriate that these kinds of sins be named among us, who, as saints, have been separated from the world of sin by the grace of God!
The apostle Paul deals only with sexual sins in his letter to the church of Ephesus. Other sins could well be added to this list. Closely associated with the sins of immorality, mentioned by the apostle, are the sin of drunkenness and wild partying. There are also the sins of profanity, gossip and backbiting, cheating, rebellion against the authority of parents and teachers. How easily these and other sins find their way in the lives of covenant young people!
Let not these things be once named among you.
For this is not appropriate for the saints of God.
According to Paul’s exhortation in Eph. 5:3 & 5 what must be named among us is giving of thanks.
By giving of thanks Paul means a life of thankful service to God for the blessing of salvation.
A young person, who lives such a life of gratitude to God, serves God with his all. He presses all his time, all his abilities, all his possessions, all his energy into the loving service of God.
Shall we be more specific?
Seeing that his father and mother have been set over him as the visible representatives of God, he honors and obeys them.
Recognizing that youth is the time in life given him to prepare himself for his future work in God’s church and kingdom, he applies himself diligently to make the most of his training in the home, school and catechism room.
Closely related to this, he is very much concerned to find the work that God has for him in his adult life. His concern is not what will make him the most money or satisfy any selfish interests he may have. His one concern is to serve the Lord. With that in mind he prayerfully considers what is his life’s work in God’s kingdom. Is it to be a minister of the gospel or missionary? Is to be a Christian school teacher? Is it to be a businessman, a common laborer, a father, mother. . . ?
Closely related to this, he is concerned to find a proper marriage partner. His concern is to find a marriage partner that will assist him in serving the Lord in a covenant home. For that reason, he seeks for a mate that is spiritually minded. His quest for a godly mate also reflects itself in whom he dates and how he behaves himself in dating.
Such are the characteristics of a young person who lives a life of thankfulness to the Lord.
And how becoming it is to the young saints of the church, when these kinds of things are named among us.
For God has set them apart as His saints exactly to live this kind of life.
WHAT IS THE IMPORTANCE OF THIS LIFE?
How very important it is that young people of the church live as becomes saints!
It is important, first, because nothing less than the honor of Jesus Christ is at stake!
We have taken the name Christian. By this name, we claim to be followers of Christ. We are those who belong to Christ. However, if we live in a way that is unbecoming to the saints of God so that all sorts of evils are named among us and named among the world about us, we bring shame to the name of Christ. It is only when we live as becomes the saints of God, that Christ is honored by us.
In this connection, let’s not forget the great sacrifice Jesus Christ made for us. Lovingly and willingly He gave Himself over to the hellish agonies of the cross that we might be saved from the eternal wrath of hell! If we have so much as an ounce of thankfulness for this great gift of love, we will do everything in our power to avoid bringing shame to His name.
Live, therefore, as becomes the saints of God.
In the second place, is necessary to live as becomes saints for that is the only way to receive the inheritance of God.
Paul makes this plain in Eph. 5, the chapter that we have been alluding to. In verse 5 he writes, “For this know that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.”
God has a glorious inheritance. It consists of eternal life with Him in heavenly glory. This inheritance has been earned for the people of God by the death of Jesus Christ.
However, those who live in a way unbecoming to saints by giving themselves over to the sexual sins mentioned in verses 3-5 or any other sin, have no part in that inheritance.
For those who live in sin without repentance show that they are not true saints of God saved by grace.
In conclusion, let us say that it certainly is not easy to live as becomes the saint of God. There are many temptations that surround us every day. Sometimes they are overwhelming so that again and again we are drawn away into sins that are not appropriate for us as saints.
But don’t forget that to live a holy life that is becoming to a saint is possible. It is possible also for young people. Think of Joseph in Egypt. Think of Daniel and his three friends in Babylon. They were young men your age. How sorely they were tempted. Yet they lived holy lives as becomes the saints of God.
The power to live such a holy life is found in diligent prayer, in constant meditating on God’s Word and the fellowship of the saints.
Take time, therefore, to pray. Read your Bible. Pay attention to the preaching. And encourage one another in a holy life.
Do these things that you may live in holiness as becomes the saints of God.
For at stake is nothing less than the honor of Jesus Christ and a glorious inheritance