The Church is the body of all faithful people. They are called "saints" because they are sanctified. The words "saint" and "sanctified" share the same Latin root. Sanctus means holy. The saints are sanctified, that is, we are made holy by divine grace. St. Paul explains this to the believers at Corinth.
“To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours.” (1 Cor 1:2)
Paul encouraged the Christians at Corinth to live sanctified lives. Their conduct was to be exemplary. They were to live pure lives in the service of Christ and his Church. Their holiness would stand out in the midst of the sexual immorality that characterized this ancient city. Paul wrote:
Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.” (1 Cor 3:16, 17)All forms of sexuality immorality were to be avoided: adultery, fornication, bestiality, onanism, and homosex.
The Apostle's admonition is repeated in the epistle to Timothy.
“. . . so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.” (1 Tim 3:15)
1 Timothy 3:1-10 is directed to the leaders of the Church. They are held to a high standard.
Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.
In the same way, deacons are to be worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons.
Verses 12 and 13 continue the description of the style of life expected of a deacon.
A deacon must be faithful to his wife and must manage his children and his household well. Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.
The call to holiness applies to the Church today as much as to the time of the Apostle Paul. Those who seek to live sanctified lives will stand out in a morally corrupt society. This is one way that the Church witnesses to the world that God grants power to live above the baseness of the prevailing culture. The saint who overcomes by God's grace will be clothed in a white robe of righteousness (Rev 3:5).
Related reading: Reflections on the Church #1; The Wardrobe of Saints