1 Corinthians lists eight ways God sees us in Christ.
About 1 Corinthians
Corinth was the major commercial center in the Roman Empire. It was also home of the famous Isthmian athletic games so it was always filled with travelers.
The city was famous for its wealth and also for being filled with every kind of evil. It was home to twelve pagan temples, including the Temple of Aphrodite, which housed over one thousand prostitutes. The city was so wicked that the term “Corinthianize” was coined to describe someone who practiced sexual immorality.
It was a city many would describe as God-forsaken, but God loves the unlovable and saves the unsaveable. So He sent Paul to preach the gospel and establish a church there.
Now living in this environment you can imagine that these new Christians would have trouble, and they did. There were divisions, legal problems, impurity and scandals throughout the Corinthian church. Instead of the Christians influencing the culture the culture was influencing the Christians. Just like we are today, the Corinthians were comfortable with sin. But God is never comfortable leaving us in sin so He leads Paul to write the book of 1 Corinthians to address these problems.
The book begins with nine verses laying out the believers standing before God and Paul uses this standing as the reason why they should change their ways. He basically says, “This is who you were, but this is who you are now in Christ, and this is how God sees you.” And it’s how God sees us as well.
1) God sees us as His Church
Paul addresses the Corinthians in verse 2 as “the church of God which is at Corinth”. The word church means, “The called out ones”. It refers to people of every generation, every race, every nation, every walk of life, who were called out of the world and into the family of God.
1 Peter 2:9 describes the church as “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”
It’s a group made up of people so flawed and so deep in sin, yet they’re called “the Church of God.” The reason this is possible is because of the second way God sees us.
2) God sees us as Sanctified
In verse 2 Paul first calls the Corinthians “the church of God”, now he calls them “those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus.”
To be sanctified means to be set apart for God’s purpose. We’re sanctified in three ways: positionally, progressively and ultimately.
We’re sanctified “positionally” when we come to Christ. Hebrews 10:10-12 explains: “We have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God.”
In the Old Testament the priests would continually make sacrifices because they never permanently paid for sin. But Christ offered Himself as the perfect sacrifice and has paid for our sins once and for all. So we’ve sanctified, or set apart, to obtain salvation through Christ.
Then we’re sanctified “progressively” throughout our Christian lives. Progressive sanctification is the process of dying to sin and living for Christ by becoming more like Him. Galatians 5:22 explains that whereas before we did the works of the flesh we’re now to produce the fruit of the Spirit which “is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
Progressive sanctification isn’t about our salvation it’s about how we live after we’ve been saved.
Then finally we’re sanctified “ultimately” when we go to heaven. Throughout our lives we wrestle with sin but when we go to be with the Lord our sinful nature is left behind. 1 John 3:2-3 explains that “now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”
That brings us to the third way God sees us.
3) God Sees Us As Saints
Paul continues his address in verse 2 by referring to the Corinthians as “called to be saints or literally “called saints”. The word saint means the same as sanctify – to be made separate or to be made holy. Those who are the recipients of sanctification are called saints. So we could refer to saints as “the sanctified ones”.
Notice that they’re called saints now. Saints aren’t canonized by the church. Verse 2 goes on to explain that saints are those “who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.” If that describes you then you are a saint right now.
Now we move on to verse 4 and find the fourth way God sees us.
4) God Sees Us As Recipients Of Grace
In Verse 4 Paul says, “I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus. The reason we’re the church of God, the reason we’re sanctified, the reason we’re called saints is because of God’s grace.
To receive grace means to receive undeserved favor. Just as there are different aspects of sanctification there are also different aspects of grace that the Christian enjoys.
There’s saving grace which is described for us in Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
Then there’s sustaining grace which we find in 2 Corinthians 12:9 where Paul is asking God to remove some hindrance. God responds by saying, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” And that caused Paul to say, “Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
So God’s grace doesn’t just save us, it also strengthens us, and enables us to have joy in all circumstances.
5) God Sees Us As Enriched In Everything By Christ
Verse 5 says “You were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge.” Or, as the NIV puts it, “you have been enriched in every way-in all your speaking and in all your knowledge.”
James 2:5 tells us that “God has chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him.” In 1 Corinthians 2:16 we’re told we have “the mind of Christ” which enables us to think on spiritual things. God showers us with gifts of salvation, fellowship, love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness and faithfulness. We’re given everything we need to serve God and be fulfilled spiritually.
6) God Sees Us As Confirmed
Verse 6 says that “the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you”
When someone comes to Christ the Holy Spirit applies salvation to the believer. Ephesians 1:13-14 tells us that “In Christ you trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.
We can rest secure in the knowledge that the promises of God are guaranteed to those who are in Christ.
7) God Sees Us As Blameless In The Day Of Our Lord
Verse 8 says that “you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The day will come when God will judge men according to their works. But Psalm 32:1-2 reminds us that “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity.” Through Christ we stand blameless before God because all our sins were covered on the Cross.
8) God Sees Us As Called Into Fellowship
Finally in verse 9 we’re told we’re “called into the fellowship.” We’re called into a relationship with God and with fellow believers. 1 John 1:3 says “That which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. God grants us the gift of a relationship with Him and the opportunity to join others in praising Him.