Andrew Fountain - Living Right 4: Holiness and Purity


  • Fourth of our series on “Doing what’s right without being legalistic”

0. Review from previous times

  1. God did an amazing thing by choosing a nation to be his special people
  2. In a remarkable way, we inherit this relationship
    • so our self-identity can be defined as “the People of God”
  3. But there is a NEW covenant now
    • The New Covenant is God’s Spirit in us
      • God has commanded us, but he is also ‘doing’ what he commanded
    • God’s transforming power is flowing into you, making you a new person
      • So don’t try and block the flow
  4. Last time we looked at how this all comes together in Jesus
    • It is a Key Truth
    • We asked the question: What does the word “holy” mean?
      • we would all agree that holiness has to do with a perfect consecration to God
      • but what does this look like?
    • Jesus re-defines holiness:
      • His total denial of self as he poured out his life as a love-gift was the ultimate act of obedience
    • This does not contradict the law (love God, love your neighbour)
      • but goes way beyond what the Old Covenant ever commanded
  • 2 Cor 5:14-15
    • For the love of Christ controls us, since we have concluded this:
      • that Christ died for all; therefore all have died.
      • And he died for all so that
        • those who live should no longer live for themselves
        • but for him who died for them and was raised.
  • Rom 12:1 makes it very clear:
    • I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God,
      • to present your whole person as a living sacrifice
      • holy and pleasing to God
      • which is your spiritual worship.
    • “whole person” refers to our mind and body.
    • Do we belong to our selfish self, or to Christ?
  • We can picture it like this living sacrifice
  • Deidun:
    • …so consecration, at its deepest level, consists
      • not simply in separation from the idolatry of the Gentiles,
      • but in separation from self
        • through the orientation of one’s existence to the other.
  • If we define:
    • Worship: giving offerings to God —praise, worship, gifts all that he wants from us
    • Morality: living the right way according to God’s standards
    • Then the two have now become one
  • So we end up with a Definition of Holiness:
    • It has always meant: total dedication/consecration to God
    • perfect in self-giving love towards God, to each other and to all
  • 1 John 3:14,16
    1. We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.…
    1. By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.
    • We love not just because of Jesus’ example, but because he is in us!


  1. The Holy Spirit cannot be separated from Jesus
    • he is the channel by which Jesus lives in us, transforming us into “little Jesus’es” (=Christians)
  2. Jesus in his own self completed all that Israel failed to do
    • His death fulfilled and completed the whole sacrificial system
    • He demonstrated that total self-giving love was what the Father wanted
  3. So when the Spirit makes us “holy”
    • It looks like self-less, self-sacrificial love!

1. Holiness and the issue of Sexual morality

  • Look at 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12
  • 1 Cor 5 (ESV)
    1. I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—
    2. not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world.
    3. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one.
  • 1 Cor 6:9-11 (ESV)
    1. Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practise homosexuality,
    2. nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
    3. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
  • Rom 1:18ff (ESV)
    1. For although they knew God, they did not honour him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
    2. Claiming to be wise, they became fools,
    3. and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.
    4. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonouring of their bodies among themselves,
    5. because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
  • Another example would be Gal 5:16f:
    • the works of the flesh: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these
    • the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control
    • Because we are told that “And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”
  • Other examples may be found in Col 3:5f where we are told to:
    • Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry… anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth… Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices
    • Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
  • The contrast is particularly strong in Ephesians: 5:2f
    1. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
    2. But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.
    3. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.
    4. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.
    5. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.
    6. Therefore do not associate with them;
    7. for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light

2. Conclusions

  • Sexual immorality is a symptom of self winning over self-denying love
    • it is the opposite to the living sacrifice
    • it is like a poison to what God is doing in us (see Gal 5)
  • But there is one more reason
    • Jesus has lavished his love on us
    • And he has given his own heart to us, a new heart, brought to us by the Spirit
    • He wants us to carry his heart around
    • Sexual immorality is a “going back to the old”, a rejection of this gift of new life
    • ultimately we live pure lives because we are in love with Jesus
  • But there is forgiveness!