Romans 1:7 says believers are called to be “saints” – We discussed this briefly last week but since we are so called it would help us to know more of this calling of sainthood. The Greek work that this word is derived from is the work hagios. Its Hebrew equivalent is kadosh. Its basic meaning is to be separated, set apart, and different. Morally, it means pure, sinless, righteous, holy. Something holy is set apart, separated, different from all other persons or things. It is something that God has set aside for Himself. This is not something man can do it has to be set aside by God Himself. God is preeminently and supremely holy (Luke 1:49; John 17:11; 1 Peter 1:15).
His holiness is demonstrated by the presence of heavenly beings who do nothing but surround His throne day and night singing out the praises of His holiness (Isaiah 6:1; Revelation 4:8). Those things associated with God are holy. The ground upon which Moses stood when God confronted him was holy (Exodus 3:1-5; Acts 7:33). The temple was holy (Matthew 24:15), and the Holy of Holies in particular was holy (Hebrews 9:2-3).
The mount where Jesus was transfigured was called holy (2 Peter 1:18). The covenant that God made with Abraham was holy (Luke 1:35). The gospel and Scriptures are called holy (Matthew 7:6; Romans 1:2). Anything that becomes associated with God is set apart unto God in a very special sense and becomes different from other things. The Jewish are called a holy nation (Exodus 19:6). They were set apart in a very special way to God.
The Old Testament deals primarily with the Jewish people and their special relationship to God: (Leviticus 20:26) ‘Thus you are to be holy to Me, for I the LORD am holy; and I have set you apart from the peoples to be Mine. The Jewish people were holy in that they were to be different from other nations by believing God and serving Him faithfully. God knew them in a special way above all the nations of the earth. The Jewish priesthood was holy, different from other men (Leviticus 21:6). The people’s tithe or tenth was holy, different from other money and goods and used for different purposes (Leviticus 27:30, 32). The temple was holy, different from other buildings (Exodus 26:33). But the Jewish people failed in the role that God wanted them to play.
The Old Testament is a continuous record of their rejection of God’s will. Because they failed to keep the Covenant God made a New Covenant of which now the church is now said to be the holy people of God. The church is called a holy nation and a royal or holy priesthood, a people made up of all nationalities and languages and races (1 Peter 2:5, 9).
The church is a people who set themselves apart unto God as holy and separated and different, who utterly trust Him and abandon themselves to follow Him. The church is now the dwelling place for God’s presence. Believers are being built “together for a habitation of God through the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:21-22). The body of the individual believer becomes holy, for the Spirit of God dwells within the believer’s body (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
The body of the believer becomes the dwelling place for God’s very presence, and the body replaces the holy of holies within the inner sanctuary of the temple. Thus, believers are called saints or holy ones.