Clothed in Christ - Called to be a Saint

By Jim Olsen

Key Verse
Eph 4:24 “and to put on (endyo) the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”

The Christian life is a life lived close to Jesus. He’s more than a teacher to us, he’s our Lord and our friend; a companion who sticks closer than a brother. The process of becoming a believer requires that a person recognizes Jesus died for their sins and accepts that God wants to live within them, loving them, saving them forever. That process is called sanctification, Greek hagiazo, which means ‘to make holy.’


Paul likens truth, righteousness and holiness to pieces of clothing that we wear. Such is the closeness of Christ to the believer. The Greek word for holy is hagios, which means ‘a most holy thing; a saint; set apart.’ It’s essential to understand that Christ makes us holy; we are not a saint until we receive the free gift of salvation from Christ, which is to say: We wear holiness just like we put on our clothes. Tonight’s message is taken entirely from Ephesians, and it starts by reminding us to clothe ourselves with Christ’s nature, to put on the new self.


Eph 4:24 “and to put on (endyo) the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”


Holiness what the Kingdom of God is all about. You see, people who are forced to do something using a list of holy rules are no better than robots or puppets. God created a way so that people could freely choose him and still be people with free will; by bringing back the innocent nature we were created with before Adam fell. Jesus is our intercessor, the one who’ll stick by us forever.


True holiness begins with faith. It begins by coming before God and acknowledging you have sinned. The word ‘sin’ is the Greek word hamartano, which comes from a word meaning ‘missing a portion (in the inheritance).’ The word itself means ‘miss the mark; make an error.’ The Bible uses it in two ways: referring to the act of sin, disobedience to a commandment and also relating to human nature, as regarding the entire human race, for “all have sinned, all have fallen short of God’s glory. ” (Rom 3:23). Our sin nature was handed down through the generations from the first man, Adam.


Jesus told the story of a tax collector. This man recognized his need of God and also recognized that he was separated from the Lord. He bowed his head in contrition and said “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” Jesus said that that man when home righteous. Read the story in Luke 18:10. It’s faith, believing that God is ready to forgive you that bring righteousness and holiness. In fact, God already knows you and says he’s accepted you from the beginning of time.


Eph 1:4 “For He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world to be holy (hagios) and blameless in His presence.”


The concept of God imparting holiness is essential for a believer to understand, because it’s God’s holy nature that winds up changing us into a new creation, his own child; a saint. A literal reading of the Greek words translates to “He selected us… to be sacred, pure, saints who are without spot, unblemished in front of him.” It’s important to understand that its Christ own nature that covers us. When we were strangers, he brought us near and placed us in his own family.


Eph 2:17 “He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.  18 For through Him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.  19 Therefore you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens of the saints (hagios) and members of God’s household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the cornerstone.”


Paul emphasizes here that we are holy citizens, saints and members of God’s household, his home, with Jesus as a cornerstone, a word that is derived from a root word meaning ‘secret place.’ The household of God has attributes, much like any human household, that he wants us to emulate. In the following text, Paul tells us that our family should resemble Christ’s family. We are saints and Jesus Christ has cleansed us by washing of his word, another analogy similar to clothing. As we stand before God, we are holy and blameless, without even a spot or a wrinkle. That’s our new nature. I encourage you to put it on!


Eph 5:25 “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her  26 to sanctify (hagios)  her, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word,  27 and to present her to Himself as a glorious church, without stain or wrinkle or any such blemish, but holy (hagios) and blameless”


The prior verse loses a little bit of significance in translation. A glorious church should be understood to mean a splendorous, elegant household, which is completely blameless and unblemished. This verse should make you immediately ‘cease’ criticizing the church, for God has different eyes than you do. Take Jesus’ advice and let other believers go their way without criticism, for ‘he who is not against us is for us.” Whoever gives a cup of cold water in Jesus’ name does not lose his reward (Mark 9:40-41). We correct only those to whom we are responsible for, for the church belongs to Christ.


It’s important to believe that you, personally are a saint, because once your inside is cleansed, your outward conduct will change. In this next set of verses, Paul explains what conduct is fitting a holy person, how a saint should behave. As you read this, notice that Paul is not entirely negative. He goes through a bunch of things that a saint should never do, but he mentions one positive thing to replace them: Thanksgiving.


Eph 5:3 “But among you, as is proper among the saints (hagios) there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed.  4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk, or crude joking, which are out of character, but rather thanksgiving.  5 For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure, or greedy person (that is, an idolater), has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.”


Two points are emphasized from these verses. First, now that you’ve given your life to Christ, your nature will change. Your personal characteristics will change from being immoral, impure and greedy. Secondly, the change will be to becoming a thankful person. Changing takes time. If you’re like me or thousands of other believers, accepting Jesus into your life doesn’t instantly change every part of your life, you get a new sense of his presence, but changing is a process. Using thanksgiving as a way to overcome our old sinful nature is something that isn’t taught often, but Paul is clearly indicating it here. I’ve seen personal success with the method. Say thanks instead of cursing, be thankful for your possessions rather than cheating on taxes, be grateful for your life passion, the energy that wakes you up every day to experience a new life. Giving thanks instead of complaining is a very powerful method of clothing yourself with Christ’s new nature.


At the same time, when you do fail, repent, but also take Paul’s attitude, that being the least of all the saints is not something to be ashamed of. Live your life understanding that holiness does not come from you, it is God’s new nature given to you. At the same time, don’t be afraid to share this good news with others, for they are probably feeling the same things you feel; they are wondering how their messy life can be cleaned up for good.


Eph 3:8 “Though I am less than the least of all the saints (hagios) this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to illuminate for everyone the stewardship of this mystery, which for ages past was hidden in God, who created all things.”


By saying “the unsearchable riches of Christ,” Paul is saying that the wealth of goodness in Christ is way past finding out, for every time you say ‘wow’ God has something even better for you. In closing, join in Paul’s prayer for the church. It’s a prayer for you to become one of his saints, understand his nature in a personal way, not just by reading a book, but by experiencing a touch from our loving savior, Jesus Christ, who stands at the door of your heart and knocks.

Eph 3:16 “I pray that out of the riches of His glory He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being,  17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints (hagios), to comprehend the length and width and height and depth of His love, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”