I recently read again about "saints" in the Bible. What does it mean to be a saint? First, we move past the Roman Catholic understanding of a saint as an especially holy and officially recognized believer in the church. The Bible refers to all believers as saints. Paul wrote "to all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints" (Rom 1:7). But what does saint mean? The word saint comes from a Latin word that refers to something sacred. It is used to translate the Greek words oi agioi, which is literally translated "the holy ones." To be holy, according to this Greek word, mean "dedicated to God, holy, sacred, i.e. reserved for God and God’s service" or "pure, perfect, worthy of God" (BDAG, 10-11).
So, what does it mean to be St. Matthew (not that I want anyone to call me that!)? It means that I am a holy one. It means I am set apart as one who is in a special relationship with God. I am one of "God's people." It also means that I am set apart for the purpose of serving him. This is who I am and this is my purpose. It strikes me now how weak and slavish that would sound to people who don't know him. But just remember, HE IS LIFE and HE IS LOVE. If that is what I am going to be forever bound to, then hook me up!
Since God is holy, in the pure and perfect sense, the purity of those who relate to and serve him is essential. Positionally, God has provided for my purity through the atoning death and resurrection of Christ. By faith and his grace, I am pure before him; I am cleansed and forgiven. That does not mean I live a pure life, but it means that I CAN. And if I do live a pure life then I am able to be more and more intimate with him and more and more useful to him (2 Tim 2:19-22).
Sometimes we don't live like we belong to God. We live like we belong to ourselves and are very happy to have God on our side. Sometimes we don't live like our all consuming purpose is to serve him. We are glad to have someone who will provide good advice and help as we go our own way. Living as his for him is a very different way of living. And that is what it means to be saints, holy ones, God's people.