How do you understand Paul’s statement that our children are holy? And what are the practical consequences? (Part 1)


1 Corinthians 7:14 reads, “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy.”

The Ryrie Study Bible gives the following correct explanations of this passage:

“The presence of a believer in the home sets the home apart and gives it a Christian influence it would not otherwise have. A believing partner,
therefore, should stay with the unbeliever. However, this does not mean that children born into such a home are automatically Christians. They
are holy in the sense of being set apart by the presence of one believing parent.”

Even though they are not automatically Christians (as rightly understood, we are only Christians when the Spirit of Christ dwells in us (Romans 8:9)—the Holy Spirit which is given to us upon proper baptism (Acts 2:38)—that does not mean that our children are cut off from access to God. Even during the time of the Old Testament, Christ DID deal and work with humans, including the nations of Israel and Judah. Christ did not deal with them by offering them access to the Holy Spirit and an opportunity for salvation (this will occur later, in the Great White Throne judgment period), but He DID speak to them and showed Himself to them. It was Christ who spoke the Ten Commandments to the ancient Israelites—not the Father. He was the Rock who led Israel out of Egypt and dealt with them in the wilderness (1 Corinthians 10:4, 9). 

Christ makes it very clear that one must be called by God the Father to have access to Him. Generally, when Adam and Eve sinned against God and were driven out of the Garden of Eden, God the Father cut Himself off from mankind. Christ says in John 6:44, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent Me draws him.” In this day and age, God the Father calls or draws only very few. Most people today simply cannot understand the Truth of God, because God has not chosen to reveal it to them yet (compare 1 Corinthians 1:26-28; 2:6-14). He will do so later, in His due time (compare Romans 11:26; Ezekiel 37:11-14, 23-28).

God has decreed that the children of those whom He calls in this day and age do have access to Him. They are already called—like the rest of us—“in holiness.” They are not spiritually “unclean.” Even if only one parent is a Christian, his or her children are “holy”—that is, they CAN be blessed by having a relationship with God (compare Proverbs 20:7). They still must respond to their calling and choose to take advantage of the privilege that God has bestowed on them—nevertheless, God considers them “holy”—they have been set apart for the holy purpose of walking in God’s Way of Life.

When we read that the unbelieving husband is sanctified by his believing wife, and that the unbelieving wife is sanctified by her believing husband, the Greek word for “sanctified” is “hagiazo,” which conveys the thought of being separated or set apart for a holy purpose. For instance, we read in John 10:36 that God the Father “sanctified” Jesus Christ and sent Him into the world to fulfill the holy purpose of His Coming. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Christ asked the Father to “sanctify” His disciples by the Truth of God, which is God’s Word (John 17:17). They were to be separated from error and false human wisdom for the holy purpose of living truthful and godly lives. Paul says in Romans 15:16 that the Gentiles should become an acceptable offering to God, “sanctified by the Holy Spirit.” It would be through the gift of the Holy Spirit that they would be acceptable to God by becoming holy, acceptable and living sacrifices (Romans 12:1).

The Greek noun for “sanctification,” “hagiasmos,” conveys the same thought as the verb “hagiazo.” In 1 Thessalonians 4:3 we read that our sanctification, according to God’s Will, means to abstain from sexual immorality. We are set aside for the holy purpose of living pure lives which includes possessing or dealing with our own vessel (our mate) in sanctification and honor (verse 4). In 2 Thessalonians 2:13, Paul repeats the thought that “God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.” And 1 Peter 1:2 states that we are the “elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.”

As we can see, sanctification describes a process. God chose us “from the beginning” and “according to His foreknowledge” to sanctify or set us apart for the holy purpose of following Him and ultimately inheriting eternal life as immortal and glorified God beings in His Kingdom. This process is also described in detail in Romans 8:28-30.

Returning to 1 Corinthians 7:14, Paul is also saying that the children of at least one converted parent are holy. The Greek word for “holy” is “hagios,” and it too describes the fact that those children are sanctified, separated or set aside for a holy purpose of God. Luke 1:70 speaks of God’s “holy prophets”—they were set aside by God to proclaim His Word. In 1 Corinthians 3:17, Paul says that we are the temple of God which must not be defiled, as it is “holy”—being separated from the world and set aside for the purpose of living holy lives.

Those who are called today for salvation have been set aside or “sanctified” “from the beginning,”—before they were born; before the” foundation of the world” and even “before time began” (compare Jeremiah 1:5; Ephesians 1:3-4; 2 Timothy 1:9). This is not to say that those who are called in this day and age are automatically saved, but they have been given the opportunity to have access to God the Father and to respond to Him. 

The same is true for the children of converted parents. They have also been sanctified or set aside for the purpose of having a relationship with God—they CAN speak to God, expecting to be heard, and they can experience and obtain an answer from God. They are not cut off from God the Father, but they must make a choice. They must not forsake the Way of God and neglect that precious and priceless opportunity of having communication with their Creator. And if they stay loyal to that Way of Life, then, in due time, when they are old enough, they can also become baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit which is a guarantee, a security and a downpayment for their eternal salvation in God’s Kingdom.

Our children are very important to God. Jesus Christ, while here on the earth as a Man, specifically and ceremonially blessed little children: “And He took them up in His arms, laid His hands on them, and blessed them” (Mark 10:16; compare Matthew 19:13-15 and Luke 18:15-17). The Church of God now follows this example by blessing little children, and especially, to ask God to grant them His protection and guidance. 

The laying on of hands is meaningful and critical. The symbolic act of laying on of hands at baptism sets the baptized person aside or sanctifies him or her for the divine purpose of receiving from God His Holy Spirit. The prayer for the blessing of healing is accompanied with the laying on of hands by the elders, setting the sick person aside for the divine purpose of physical healing. During the marriage ceremony, the minister places his hands on the couple, while asking God in prayer to sanctify the marriage and to set aside the couple for the holy purpose of the marriage relationship—so that the marriage will be blessed by God. And finally, ordinations are always accompanied by the laying on of hands–setting the ordained person aside for the godly office of a deacon or deaconess or a minister.

Likewise, Christ blessed little children by setting them apart for God’s special protection, guidance and a special relationship with Him. In addition, when the ministry blesses a little child, they are asking God the Father to assign an angel to the child, as the Bible clearly teaches the existence of guardian angels.

In Genesis 48:15–16, Jacob acknowledged the presence of his guardian angel throughout his life. We read in the Revised English Bible, “The [G]od in whose presence my forefathers lived, my forefathers Abraham and Isaac, the [G]od who has been my shepherd all my life to this day, the angel who rescued me from all misfortune, may he bless these boys.” Jacob was convinced that God had been with him all of his life, and He was specifically present through a particular angel whom He had assigned to watch over Jacob.

Acts 12:15 shows that the disciples thought that Peter’s angel had appeared, as they believed Peter to be in prison. They specifically said, “It is his angel.” In other words, they thought it was the particular angel whom God had assigned to watch over Peter.

Notice, too, the following remarkable statement of Jesus Christ in Matthew 18:10, in talking about little children that believe in Him, as well as true Christians who must become “as” little children: “Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven.”

We read that a star appeared to the wise men from the East, leading them to the place where Jesus Christ dwelt, after He had been born. We read in Matthew 2:1–2 that they had “seen His star in the East.”

This was not an ordinary star, but a bright, shining angel. The Bible identifies and compares stars with angels on numerous occasions (compare Revelation 1:20; 9:1–2; 12:4). Note that the wise men from the East refer to this star as “His” star—that is, the star, or angel, of the Christ Child.

If they understood that the star was an angel, then they also knew that this angel was assigned to the Christ Child. This is not to say, of course, that only one angel watched over Christ. On one occasion, He mentioned to Peter that He could ask His Father for “more than twelve legions of angels” (Matthew 26:53)—more than 72,000 angels.

God may assign one angel to guard or protect numerous people, or an entire nation. For instance, the archangel Michael is described to Daniel as “The great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people” (Daniel 12:1).

The fact remains that God assigns guardian angels to our children for their protection, and God’s ministers will ask God during the blessing of the little children ceremony to do so. We do not mean to say that God will only do so when a little child is blessed; we saw that in many cases, God had assigned guardian angels to people for their protection even though their blessing as a little child is not mentioned. We do not know when God, exactly, assigns guardian angels to people in general; but we do know that the children of converted parents are being protected by angels so that they can reach their potential of becoming baptized and ultimately born-again members in the God Family.

(To be continued)

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

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