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Psalm 16
  
Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge. I say to the LORD, "You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you."
 
As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones,
in whom is all my delight.
 
The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply; their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out or take their names on my lips.
 
The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.
 
I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.
 
Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption.
 
You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures
forevermore. 
 (ESV)
The Saint?
Bede the Venerable, Theologian
25 May 2016
What makes true saintliness? Often we desire to emulate the extraordinary saints who deny themselves food or drink, clothing or housing. If only we could be like those true saints who avoid the world and its allurements, then we would be truly holy. The problem is that holiness is not something we do. It cannot be reached by following a specific formula of holiness as though the avoidance of meat would make holy. It is not what goes into the mouth that makes holy or sinful. External covering, whether in rags or silks, does nothing to make us better or worse.
 
True saintliness comes from God and is designated by God. Those who have received the things that make holy are holy. Those who have been given the Holy Spirit in baptism have been made holy. Those who have been given the righteousness of Christ are holy. Those who receive the body and blood of Christ in the sacrament of the altar are holy. There is no better or greater saintliness than the one given by God. There is no higher way, no greater ethical heroism that qualifies us for "true" saintliness. Saintliness is a gift that we ought to see in our fellow Christians, no matter how humble they are. This is what Paul means when he speaks of seeing the Christian folk differently because of the incarnation of Christ: "We regard no one according to the flesh" (2Co 5:16). His seeing was seeing through Christ and in Christ and thus a seeing of holiness.

 

Martin Luther

"When I was a monk, I often had a heartfelt wish to see the life and conduct of at least one saintly man. But meanwhile I was imagining the sort of saint who lived in the desert and abstained from food and drink, subsisting on nothing but roots and cold water. I had derived this notion about unnatural saints from the books not only of the sophists but even of the fathers. For Jerome writes somewhere as follows: 'I am not saying anything about food and drink, since it is a luxury even for those who are feeble to take a little cold water and to eat some cooked food.'
 
"But now that the light of truth is shining, we see with utter clarity that Christ and the apostles designate as saints, not those who lead a celibate life, who are abstemious, or who perform other works that give the appearance of brilliance or grandeur but those who, being called by the Gospel and baptized, believe that they have been sanctified and cleansed by the blood and death of Christ. Thus whenever Paul writes to Christians, he calls them saints, sons and heirs of God, etc. Therefore saints are all those who believe in Christ, whether men or women, whether slaves or free. And they are saints, on the basis, not of their own works but of the works of God, which they accept by faith, such as the Word, the sacraments, the suffering, death, resurrection, and victory of Christ, the sending of the Holy Spirit, etc. In other words, they are saints, not by active holiness but by passive holiness.
 
"Such genuine saints include ministers of the Word, political magistrates, parents, children, masters, servants, etc., if they, first of all, declare that Christ is their wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption (1Co 1:30), and if, in the second place, they all do their duty in their callings on the basis of the command of the Word of God, abstaining from the desires and vices of the flesh for the sake of Christ.
 
"They are not all of equal strength of character, and many weaknesses and offenses are discernible in every one of them; it is also true that many of them fall into sin. But this does not hinder their holiness at all, so long as they sin out of weakness, not out of deliberate wickedness. For, as I have already said several times, the godly are conscious of the desires of the flesh; but they resist them and do not gratify them. When they fall into sin unexpectedly, they obtain forgiveness, if by faith they return to Christ, who does not want us to chase away the lost sheep but to look for it. On no account, therefore, am I to jump to the conclusion that those who are weak in faith or morals are unholy, when I see that they love and revere the Word, receive the Lord's Supper, etc.; for God has received them and regards them as righteous through the forgiveness of sins. It is before Him that they stand or fall (Rm 14:4)."

Martin Luther, Lectures on Galatians, 5.19
 
Prayer
Lord, send Your Holy Spirit among us that by Your holy gifts we might become Your holy people. Amen.
 
For Mary Lewis, that she might be strengthened and return home
 
For those suffering from depression, that God our heavenly Father would grant healing from the darkness
 
For favorable weather, that God might grant us all the good fruits of the earth
Art: Dürer, Albrecht  The Adoration of the Trinity (1515) 

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