He made you holy by means of Christ Jesus, just as he did for all people everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours.
Our human nature is so centred on personal achievement that we often feel we can become holy by struggling against sin, doing the right things, keeping the commandments as much as we possibly can, and of course, worshipping God as He requires. Just how wrong and self-centred is that!
One of the things the Corinthian believers had to grasp – and I suspect we sometimes need to as well – is that God has already made us holy! Hence, right from the outset of this letter in which he deals with so many practical issues of right living, Paul reminds them of their spiritual status. He writes ‘He made you holy by means of Christ Jesus’. That is the reality that we all have to grasp; God has already declared us holy through our union with Christ. Knowing that, we have a firm basis for our life-struggle to live rightly for God. It enables us to put the horse in front of the cart: we no longer struggle to live rightly in order to become holy, we are God’s holy people, so we strive to live up to our status. Failing believers do not get kicked out of the kingdom, God picks them up and puts them back on the pathway of following Jesus – after all, Jesus died for them to bring them into the Kingdom in the first place.
As if to stress that, Paul reminds his readers that theirs is the common experience of all Christians everywhere. We have all been declared clean and holy people regardless of our backgrounds and past sins. If you think the Corinthians were any worse than we are, think again. All Christian believers are in the same boat; our amazing God has dealt with all our sin and made us part of his holy people.