…to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be his holy people…
Throughout the New Testament we see the interplay between what we might call the positional and the practical. It is found in the above expression:
‘Those sanctified in Christ Jesus’ points to the positional aspect. We are separated to belong to Jesus. This is our position;
‘Called to be his holy people’: is the practical outworking of the positional. We have to be who we are; live up to our privileges.
As we read this letter we can easily see that the Corinthians did not. Neither do we. We are not what we were, but neither are we what we want to be, or what we are one day going to be. We can be encouraged that God did not write them off because of their failures , and we count on His mercy towards ourselves also. However, we cannot read the Corinthian correspondence without seeing that holiness matters. We cannot live any longer for ourselves. The Lordship of Christ has serious implications. One of them is that we seek to do whatever He says. We are not our own. We have been bought at a great price, and we are to glorify God in our bodies (6:19,20).
“And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” (2 Corinthians 5:15).
The positional and the practical are sometimes referred to as the indicative and the imperative. As someone observed: “Every imperative of Scripture (what we are to do for God) rests on the indicative (who we are in our relationship with God), and the order is not reversible.”
We can only become holy in life because in the first place we have been set apart to belong to Christ.