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1 Corinthians 1:1-9

Called to be a Saint

  • Jean Marais
  • Sunday Night Messages
  • May 26, 2024

Today we are starting our study in the first book of Corinthians. Corinth was an interesting city, and the history, culture and commerce of the city very much influenced the theme of the letter. Paul started the church there on his second missionary journey. He first introduced the gospel to the Jews in the city, but when they did not want to adhere to the gospel, he went to the gentiles.  The letter was written in response to reports received about issues in the church. We will see Paul cover topics like division, sexual immorality, lawsuits, marriage, Christian liberty, order of worship, and the resurrection in this epistle as he gives guidance to this young church.

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Called to be a Saint
1 Corinthians 1:1-9
May 26, 2024

     Today we are starting our study in the first book of Corinthians. Corinth was an interesting city, and the history, culture and commerce of the city very much influenced the theme of the letter.

      Because of its strategic location, Corinth was a center of world commerce. It was an extremely luxurious city with a population of about 600 000. It was located in southern Greece on the southern end of the Isthmus, or land bridge, connecting the mainland of Greece with the Peloponnese peninsula.

     Today there is a canal of 3.9 miles long connecting the Ionian and Aegean seas, but before the canal, which was only completed in the 19th century, captains would rather have their ships dragged across the Isthmus than go around the treacherous Cape.

     It had a reputation for extremely high-quality exports. It was a major trade and port city as the ships moved over the Isthmus East/West and the land trade moved through the area North/South.

     But it also had a reputation for everything worldly and sinful.  The temple of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, was in this city. There were many temple prostitutes who would go down into the city to lure the men traveling through the city into their practices. Around the Roman Empire they used the name of that city as an accusation. There was even a Greek word corinthianize which meant to practice fornication.

     If a daughter was about to leave the house dressed inappropriately, her mother might say, “You go change your clothes, young lady, you look like a Corinthian hussy!”

     Paul started the church there on his second missionary journey. He first introduced the gospel to the Jews in the city, but when they did not want to adhere to the gospel, he went to the gentiles.

     Paul had actually written a letter to the church prior to this letter, and this one was written about 5 – 7 years after the church was founded while he was in Ephesus between AD 54-55. It was a young church with young Christians.  They came from the Greek culture and brought a lot of their past with them when they became Christians.

     The letter was written in response to reports received about issues in the church. We will see Paul cover topics like division, sexual immorality, lawsuits, marriage, Christian liberty, order of worship, and the resurrection in this epistle as he gives guidance to this young church.

     He does not expound on the great doctrines of salvation like in Romans, rather he touches on many problems that do not have a close tie to each other, but they all had in common the fact that the Corinthians were experiencing them.

     In other words, they are immature in their faith and Paul writes these letters to correct their ways and to build maturity in their faith. Therefore, it is invaluable to us as well to get practical direction.

     Yet it is interesting that Paul doesn’t start off the letter by telling them what failures they are as Christians. He starts off by confirming their identity.

     There is much for us to learn from in this book. Everyone of us to a certain degree comes out of the world with worldly mindset, or are still influenced by the world that wants to capture the mind.

     What you think of yourself becomes the basis of how you act and determines the direction your life is heading

Illus – We have seen that even in sport it has become important. Sport psychology and mental strengthening has a great impact on the performance of athletes. When you start to doubt yourself, it has a great impact on your performance. Even the US army is now employing sports psychologists to strengthen the soldiers’ mental capacity.    

Illus – I recently read an article by Chris Thorsness, who won an Olympic gold medal in rowing. She said that after winning the gold medal the pressure became enormous. After one has reached the pinnacle, the expectation is that one should always be on top and have everything well sorted out. Still, they have a lot of self-doubt, but they keep it bottled up, wanting to always look in control. This can even bring the onset of imposter syndrome. This is when people believe that they are undeserving of their achievements and the high esteem in which they are in fact generally held. That they are not as competent, or intelligent or well sorted out as people might think.

     Many times, Christians also suffer from imposter syndrome. We have this high bar we aim for, yet many times we fail. This can impact our faith and our relationship with God.

     This is why Paul first re-affirms their identity in Christ. This becomes the foundation that faith and the Christian walk can be built on.

     As we go through this letter, there might be many things that we will relate to, and some of it might be difficult to face and acknowledge. This is why we need to remember who we are, what God thinks of us, remembering that He loves us and wants the best for us.

     Who God says we are becomes the foundation of our faith.

I. Be Reminded of Who You Are

  • Paul does not start off his letter with a simple “Hello”. His greeting is profound. He immediately jumps into confirming to them who they are.

A. You have been sanctified

  • Paul calls them saints who are sanctified. The picture people have of a saint in today’s context are of those who have been sainted by the Catholic Church.
  • Many people even pray to the saints thinking that they are an intermediary between themselves and Jesus Christ.

Illus – We were once in a church on a Greek Island where a saint is in a coffin in the church…

  • This is a great deception, because the Bible clearly states that there is no other intermediary between us and God than Jesus Christ. He is our great High Priest.
  • The result of this perception of what a saint is, is that very few people think of themselves as saints. If you would ask some Christians if they were saints, they would reply that they were not holy enough, or not special enough. They still have many sins that they struggle with. So, the measure being used to measure if they are saints is their own works.
  • Yet, Paul calls the church of Corinth, who was still struggling with many things as we will see, ‘saints’. How is this possible?
  • ‘Sanctified’ is a big religious word. What it means is to be separated from profane things and dedicated to God. Being consecrated to God. Purified internally by the renewing of the soul. Free from guilt of sin.
  • There are two parts to this. We have been sanctified by the love of God through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. This is tied in with our justification.

Hebrews 10:10, By this will (God’s will) we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Hebrews 10:14, For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.

  • God sees you as perfectly sanctified, cleansed, washed in Christ.

1 Corinthians 6:11, Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

  • This is a work of God by the grace of God. Because of His goodness and mercy. Nothing we could do could ever wash us clean. Only the blood of Jesus applied to our lives cleanses us from all unrighteousness. He became the sacrifice in our stead.

Illus – The sin offering in the Old Testament was a type of Christ who would come. A person would put his hands on the head of the offering thereby transferring guilt to the animal which would then be sacrificed.

Hebrews 10:4, For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

  • The sacrifices were only the shadow of the substance who was Jesus Christ.
  • So, if you put your faith in Jesus you are sanctified by Christ. You are called a saint by God. Set apart for Him.
  • You no longer belong to this world. You are no longer under the dominion of sin and death. You have been transferred from the dominion of darkness into His kingdom of light. This is amazing grace and amazing news.
  • But there is also a second part to sanctification. That is what is done by the Holy Spirit in our lives, changing us into that which God already sees us as.

2 Corinthians 3:18, But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.

  • Sin, and the law, has put a veil over the spiritual eyes of people. As long as they try to be righteous by upholding the law, they never make it in their own eyes. They never feel worthy to draw close to God, because they are not.
  • When we receive by faith the sanctification of God and recognize that is by grace, it all changes. It lifts the veil of looking at ourselves and our own efforts, and we behold the finished work of Christ.
  • Remember that God stands outside of time. In His eyes you are already justified, sanctified, glorified.

Illus – When John wrote the book of Revelation, he was transferred through time to see what was going to happen. He was already there at the end.

  • But we are living in the tension between that which we are becoming and that which we now still are.

Illus – The acorn in it has a massive oak tree, but it has not become it yet. It takes time.

  • This is the work that the holy Spirit does in us. He works in us, transforming us into the image of Christ.

Illus – I love the imagery of weddings in the Jewish culture. The bridegroom would ask the bride for her hand in marriage. To which she would respond yes. He would then leave to prepare a place for them, while she goes into a time of preparation, until he comes back to take her where He is, and they have the wedding feast…

B. You have God’s grace and peace

  • Paul always reminded the churches of this. Because you are justified, meaning just as if you’ve never sinned, and sanctified, you are restored in relationship with God and stand under God’s grace, which means His undeserved unmerited favor, and God’s peace.
  • I think we sometimes forget what a wonderful privilege it is to stand under the grace and peace of God. Especially when the troubles of life come and want to diminish God in our lives.

Illus – Imagine being adopted by the most powerful, richest man in the world. This man is a good man and because of his goodness he chooses to be good to you. He tells you that you never have to worry about your future, because he will supply all that you need. He tells you that you will never be alone as you’re always welcome at his table and in his house. He sends you his closest most trusted business partner to come stay with you and guide you through the choices of life and be your personal life coach. He tells you that you never have to fear, because he will protect you and no evil will triumph over you. This seems too good to be true.

  • Our God is the creator God, the most powerful, most miraculous, most loving, most glorious, most faithful one. And by His loving kindness He has brought us into His family and extended His grace to us.
  • He promised to never leave you and never forsake you. He promised to be with us through the Holy Spirit who not only comes to live with us, but inside of us.
  • He said that we can be at peace because He is with us. He promised that no evil will ever triumph over you. He promised that nothing, not even death, can rip you out of His hands.
  • Paul says that, because of His grace we are exceedingly enriched in Him, in all speech, empowered by the Spiritual gifts we received, and all knowledge.
  • This word enriched means ‘to be richly furnished’.

Illus – Let’s say you have an important project to finish, like building a skyscraper. But all you have is one shovel, one wheelbarrow, and one assistant. You would agree with me that it would be a daunting task that would be near impossible. It makes a big difference if your senior partner gives you a blank check to furnish you with all the equipment and help you need to complete your task.

  • This is the image that Paul is using. By the grace of God, He has supplied all that we need through his Spirit.

II. Await Jesus Eagerly

  • Paul says that they are awaiting eagerly the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ. He refers to the biblical prophecy declaring that Jesus is coming back for his bride.
  • It is very important to stay focused on the fact that Jesus is coming back.

Proverbs 29:18, Where there is no vision, the people perish.

  • If there is no expectation, there is no direction. Your end goal determines your journey and direction. If you are heading for Canada, you do not take the 101 south.

A. He keeps you blameless

  • Verse 8 – Who will also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
  • Christ will confirm you to the end. It means He keeps confirming who you are. It speaks of keeping you strong, free of any accusation.
  • The enemy is the accuser of the brethren. He accuses us of all the things we struggle with, and stumbles in. He even accuses us of the things we didn’t even notice doing wrong. He wants to bring accusations before God who is a righteous judge.

Revelation 12:10, … for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night. And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony,

1 John 2:1, My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;

  • John does say that there is a heart condition. A heart that does not want to sin. Those who have given their lives to Jesus, has a new nature, a new heart.
  • Although they sometimes stumble and are drawn away by their flesh, deep down in their hearts they don’t want to sin.
  • They have seen the destruction of sin. They have felt the deep remorse of sin. Yet none of us will live sinless on this side of the grave.
  • Therefore, Jesus us our advocate. His blood speaks a better word. His blood confirms and keeps confirming our position and blamelessness.
  • He does this so that you will be blameless on the day of His return.
  • There will be great reveal when Jesus returns, and when He is revealed, we will also be revealed with Him.

Colossians 3:1-4, Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.

  • The exhortation is that, because He has made us blameless, we have changed. We should keep our minds on the things that are above.
  • What does that mean? We don’t judge things in the context of this world, but from a Kingdom of God perspective.
  • We don’t look at ourselves defined by what the world says about us, but we are defined by what God says about us.
  • We no longer conform to the actions, values, and morals of this world, we align with the actions, morals and values of God’s kingdom,. We have died and our lives are now hidden in Christ.

B. Called into Fellowship

  • God called us into fellowship with His Son. This is a very important truth. Many people see God the Father as the righteous, angry judge, and it is only because of Jesus that we can draw near. They perceive God a scornful and looking at them with angry raised eyebrows. As if God is just tolerating them. This cannot be farther from the truth.
  • The Father calls into fellowship. It is His heart to forgive, His heart to have relationship restored, His heart that we would accept the free gift of salvation made possible by the sacrifice of Jesus. Jesus Himself said the following, showing the Father’s heart.

John 6:44, No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.

  • Our fellowship with Christ will come to a climax on that day when we are revealed with Him at the wedding feast of the Lamb.

Revelation 19:7-8, Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.

  • We are in fellowship because He has made us saints, and because He has changed our nature, our actions also change. We now walk in the light, in fellowship with Christ.

1 John 1:7, but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.

  • This is the call to us. Believe in the finished work of Christ. Accept who God calls you. Live now according to who you are.

1 Corinthians 1:1-9     NASB

1Paul, called as an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,

To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, that in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge, even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you, so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.


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