The shirt fits, and makes you fit to wear it

As I was reading 1 Corinthians 1 the other day the study notes in my Bible drew my attention to a statement Paul makes in verse 2:

“to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints”

The notes commented:

“These two words [sanctified and saints] are closely related in Greek, one a verb (hagiazo) meaning ‘make holy’ and the other an adjective (hagios) meaning ‘holy’. Here the adjective is used as a noun and means ‘holy people’… Paul reminds the Corinthians that because they are in Christ Jesus God has set them apart as His holy people, and because they are God’s people they should reflect His holiness.”

This immediately reminded me of a similar concept expressed in Hebrews:

“For by a single sacrifice He [Jesus] has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.”

You see the phrase “being sanctified” implies an action that is ongoing (our being made more like Jesus) but the context shows that we who have put our trust in Jesus’ sacrifice are seen by God as being as perfect as Jesus! Our sins and sinful nature have been removed forever. This is one of the Bible’s most wonderful truths, what Martin Luther called “the great exchange”. Paul expresses this succinctly in 2 Corinthians 5:21

“For our sake He [God the Father] made Him [Jesus] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”

Christian, you are the righteousness of God.

Christian, how is that looking in your life right now?

This requires far greater consideration than a mere blog post, but here’s the analogy I thought of as I prayed about this...

When a football fan puts on their team’s shirt, they are identifying with the team, but no more. They do not become more able to play for that team. Hence clubs sell size-XXXXXL shirts but none of the players wear them (with a few notable exceptions). But here’s the thing with the holiness of God: it’s like He puts the team shirt on us AND gives us the inclination and the ability to play for the team. We have the righteousness of Christ, and we can grow in Christ-likeness. Let's get training and get playing!