Of all the churches we come across in the New Testament, the church in Corinth has to be the one with the most problems. We have two letters to them that address lots of the issues that were ruining their fellowship and their witness to the needy city in which God had planted them. They were in the world, but a lot of the world had got into them. And the world in Corinth was about as ungodly as it gets.
It’s surprising then that, as Paul begins his letter to them, he calls them ‘sanctified’, ‘saints’, and says that they will be “guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ”. How can a church that is so deficient be described in that way? Is God unaware of what’s going on? Or doesn’t He care? Of course not! That’s the wonder of the gospel of God’s grace. That sinners can be called saints. That the guilty will be reckoned to be guiltless. It’s fantastic, and it’s all because of the work of Jesus in dying for us on the cross and dealing with our lostness and depravity. We, and they, have that holy standing, not because we are good, but because Jesus loves us and died to save us.
But God’s limitless love for the church doesn’t end with salvation. God wants us to be like Jesus. He wants our standing before him in Christ to be more and more our current state. So He calls us to live holy lives, lives that are wholly lived for Jesus. That’s why God calls the Corinthians to deal with the things that hinder them from becoming more Christlike. And he calls on us to do the same as we strive together to be who we are – the body of Christ himself.