Mars Hill Staff Devotional
from Fred Carpenter
This week’s staff devotional is a sequel to the one from last week. If you recall, last week we observed that in the epistles of the New Testament, Christians are referred to as saints 56 times and as sinners only 3. Yet, as I shared from my experience, I hear frequently from pulpits that we (Christians) are sinners, and very infrequently that we are saints. I proposed one big reason for this. We live in a world that focuses on performance over identity. I also posted a response that expands on this thought.
Next week we’ll move on to a different topic, but today we’re taking our thoughts from last week one step further. We’ll begin with a question that could cause you to recoil, but please, hang with me. Here it comes. Did you know that you won’t be any holier in heaven than you are now? Now before you tune me out, please hear this. I am not in any way promoting the heretical doctrine of sinless perfection. As Christians, the power of sin still lurks in us (1 John 1:8). However, if you recoiled from that question, then you might be more focused on your performance than your identity. If you need more background regarding this, then visit or revisit last week’s devotional.
The words, saint, sanctified and holy are translated in the New Testament from Greek words (hagios and/or hagiazo) which come from the same root and literally mean “set apart.” When God gave you the understanding and the faith to appropriate His work on the cross, you were changed. You became a new creature (2 Cor. 5:17), and because of this, you became “set apart.” By virtue of His life in you, you became a partaker of His divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). You became like Him, and different than the world around you. You may not always act like it, but that doesn’t change what He did in you. Notice from 1 Corinthians 1:2 and Hebrews 10:10, you “have been sanctified”. This phrase is in the perfect tense which conveys the idea of completed past action. Notice from Colossians 3:12 and Hebrews 3:1, the word holy is used to describe a present condition.
Through the power of the cross and the power of the resurrection, what He accomplished in you is a done deal. You have been crucified with Jesus (Gal.2:20), buried with Him and raised with Him to walk in newness of life (Rom 6:4). You are now a new person. He has set you apart. He has made you holy.
So will you become more holy with time? Does an oak tree become “oakier” with time? No. It may mature as an oak tree, but it won’t become “oakier.” It is an oak tree because of its nature (identity), not because of its size or the number of acorns it produces. Likewise, you will not become holier with time, but you will express your holiness with greater consistency as you mature in Christ. And in heaven you will fully express your holiness because you will no longer be plagued by the power of sin that now dwells in you.
Like last week, I’ll close with the question, “So what difference does this really make?” Is it just a matter theological semantics? Well, think about it. What if you really viewed the Christian brothers and sisters you interact with on a regular basis, as they really are; holy? What if you saw past their outward appearance and their sometimes “unholy” behavior? What if you were acutely aware that one day, they will fully express their holiness in a way that is beyond your ability to presently comprehend. Think about it. Would you be less inclined to marginalize them or take them for granted? Would you treat them differently?
“It is a serious thing . . . to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare . . .” – C.S. Lewis