It’s probably not a name we would use for ourselves, but the apostle Paul often called believers “saints” in the New Testament (Eph. 1:1; Col. 1:2). Did he call them saints because they were perfect? No. These people were human and therefore sinful. What then did he have in mind? The word saint in the New Testament means that one is set apart for God. It describes people who have a spiritual union with Christ (Eph. 1:3-6). The word is synonymous with individual believers in Jesus (Rom. 8:27) and those who make up the church (Acts 9:32).

Saints have a responsibility through the power of the Spirit to live lives worthy of their calling. This includes, but is not limited to, no longer being sexually immoral and using improper speech (Eph. 5:3-4). We are to put on the new character traits of service to one another (Rom. 16:2), humility, gentleness, patience, love, unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph. 4:1-3), obedience, and perseverance during hardship and suffering (Rev. 13:10; 14:12). In the Old Testament, the psalmist called saints “the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight” (Ps. 16:3).

Our union with Christ makes us saints, but our obedience to God’s Word through the power of the Holy Spirit makes us saintly.