Andrew Fountain - The Misunderstanding of Holiness — Part 3: Tying it All Together

  • How does our new understanding of holiness fit with some N.T. passages that seem to be equating it with purity.
  • By making an extra step in our definition, we can tie everything together in a way that not only makes sense but is helpful and motivating,
  • and gives a very positive meaning to a word that is often seen as negative and discouraging.


Sermon Slides - The Misunderstanding of Holiness – Part 3: Tying it All Together


To understand why some New Testament passages speak of purity,
but to clearly distinguish holiness as a positive quality.

“Holy” part 3, the New Testament

  1. Why is the Spirit called Holy?
  2. A Treasured Possession (with a purpose)
  3. The New Testament—A New Purpose

Hosea 11
What does “holy” mean?

  • The northern kingdom, Ephraim/Israel were bent on sinning.
    God says:
  1. The more they were called, the more they went away;
    they kept sacrificing to the Ba’als
    and burning offerings to idols…
  2. My people are bent on turning away from me,
  • What keeps God from destroying them is his holiness

Hosea 11
What does “holy” mean?

  1. How can I give you up, O Ephraim?
          How can I hand you over, O Israel?
    My heart recoils within me;
          my compassion grows warm and tender.
  2. I will not execute my burning anger;
          I will not again destroy Ephraim;
    because I am God and not a man,
          the Holy One in your midst,
                and I will not come in wrath.

Definition of God’s Holiness

  • His faithful commitment,
    especially loving commitment to his people

Psalm 60

  1. Deliver by your power and answer me,
          so that the ones you love may be safe.
  2. God has spoken in his holiness:
          “I will triumph!...”

Psalm 89

  1. But I will not remove my loyal love (chesed) from him,
          nor be unfaithful to my promise.
  2. I will not break my covenant
          or go back on what I promised.
  3. Once and for all I have vowed by my own holiness,
          I will never deceive David.

Psalm 98

  1. Oh sing to the LORD a new song,
          for he has done marvellous things!
    His right hand and his holy arm
          have worked salvation for him.

1. Why is the Spirit called Holy?

Why is the Spirit called Holy?

Why not:

  • Righteous Spirit?
  • Powerful Spirit
  • Good Spirit?
  • For the ideas and Biblical references for the Spirit being holy I am endebted to The Bible Translator, “Towards a Better Understanding of God’s Holiness: Challenging the Status Quo” by Andrew Case (2017, Vol 68(3), p.270)

What is the work of the Holy Spirit?

  • comforts/encourages (Acts 9:31) “So the church… had peace and was being built up, walking in the… comfort of the Holy Spirit.”
  • prays with us (Rom 8:26–27) “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings that cannot be sounded.”
  • empowers us to abound in hope (Rom 15:13) “so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”
  • gives us life (Rom 8:11) “he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.”
  • reveals deep and glorious things to us (1 Cor 2:10) “these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit.”
  • brings beautiful fruit in our lives (Gal 5:22–23) “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

2. A Treasured Possession (with a purpose)

Exodus 19

  1. …you shall be: my treasured possession
      among all peoples
      for all the earth is mine
  2. and you shall be:
    a kingdom of priests for me, a holy nation

Holiness ==> Treasure ==> Purpose

  1. To be holy is to be God’s “treasured possession”
  2. and so he is totally committed to them
  3. …treasured possessions for a purpose
  • The purpose was to be “a light to the nations”
    = to showcase to the whole world: social justice, love and devotion to God
  • So when they failed to do this, they missed the reason for which then were made holy

Being a light to the nations
Matt 22

  1. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.
  2. …You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Isaiah 52

  1. Break forth together into singing, you waste places of Jerusalem,
    for the LORD has comforted his people; he has redeemed Jerusalem.
  2. The LORD has bared his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations,
    and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.
  • The purpose for the nation being holy to God was to:
  1. tell the story of God’s holy salvation
  2. reflect other aspects of his character

3. The New Testament—A New Purpose

Jesus’ holiness
= devoted to a purpose
John 17

  1. As you sent me into the world,
      so I have sent them into the world.
  2. And for their sake I am totally committed (lit holy),
      that they also may be totally committed (holy) in truth.

2 Timothy 1 & 2

  1. …who saved us and called us to a holy calling
  • Clean so that we can be used by God (holy)
  1. Now in a large house there are not only objects of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for noble use, some for ignoble.
  2. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honorable use, holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.

1 Peter 2

  1. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
    a people for his own possession,
    in order that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

The Connection with Purity

  • We are saved for the purpose of showing the character of God to the world
  • Especially his holy love
  • But also truth/justice/integrity
  • holiness purity
    but you can’t carry out your holy purpose if your behaviour is filthy

The Final Step

  • You have an individual holy purpose for your life
  • For some it’s full time Christian service
  • For others it may be split between home, workplace or ambitions
  • But all of us can be holy 100% of the time
  • If God has give you something to do,
    don’t get distracted! don’t get polluted!

Holiness is positive

  • Not keeping away from donuts
    • -nobody wins the 400m simply be the negative of keeping away from donuts
  • But positive devotion to the goal
  • Not a focus on “not sinning”
  • But a commitment to be useful to God (therefore we avoid sin)

Our Holiness

  • 100% commitment to God because he is 100% committed to us
  • For us to be holy is to be God’s treasured possession.
  • But we belong to him for a purpose, and that is to reflect his goodness, love & truth to the universe

Your Personal Holiness

  • God has saved you individually, for his holy purpose
  • Be 100% committed to living this out (including avoiding donuts when necessary)

Be Holy!

  • Be passionately dedicated and 100% committed to God!
  • God is 100% committed to you,
  • so be 100% committed to him!
  • The world learns about God by watching you—so pay attention to what your life is communicating!
  • And be ruthless about cutting out what does not fit how God has called you to do this
  • You are a “Precious Possession for a Particular Purpose”

Updated on 2021-06-17 by Andrew Fountain