Andrew Fountain - Living Right 1: Our Identity as a Holy People


  • First of a new series on “Doing what’s right without being legalistic”

1. The Question—How did the early church see themselves

  • A very good question is to ask how Paul taught the new Christians to think of themselves

2. The Story of Israel

  • This is pictured as a love-affair in Ezekiel 16
  • Deuteronomy 26:16
    1. “This day the Lord your God commands you to do these statutes and rules. You shall therefore be careful to do them with all your heart and with all your soul.
    2. You have declared today that the Lord is your God, and that you will walk in his ways, and keep his statutes and his commandments and his rules, and will obey his voice.
    3. And the Lord has declared today that you are a people for his treasured possession, as he has promised you, and that you are to keep all his commandments,
    4. and that he will set you in praise and in fame and in honor high above all nations that he has made, and that you shall be a people holy to the Lord your God, as he promised.”
  • In summary: God’s holy People is
    1. separated from the nations and marked out as different them
    2. to belong by Covenant to God, who
    3. by his presence makes the people holy and requires that they be holy
    4. as a worship-community, holy and united,
    5. pleasing God and subject to his dominion, so that
    6. he may be God in his People and before the nations.

3. The ‘holy People’ theme in 1 Thess. 4:1-12

  • 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12
    • In the Old Testament, it is God’s presence that both demands holiness and makes holy. “Consecrate yourselves, therefore, and be holy, for I am the Lord your God. Keep my statutes and do them; I am the Lord who sanctifies you.” (Lev 20:7-8)
    • And back in 1 Thess 3:11-13: “Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.”
    People of Old imperative → Covenant Law → observances → pleases God within covenant relationship
    Christians imperative →           ??           → conduct → pleases God within covenant relationship


  1. God did an amazing thing by chosing 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. Looking as how God and the nation of Israel related to each other can be a real help for us
    Three things in particular relating to holiness:
    1. We are pure and united because: God’s special dwelling place is with/in us
    2. We are pure and united because: We represent God to the nations
    3. We are pure and united because: God’s presence actually makes us pure

4. It is God’s Presence that makes us holy and requires us to be holy

  • Two facts, flowing in opposite directions:
    1. It is because God is present with us and has put his name on us (as in a marriage), that we need to be faithful to him
    2. It is his presence that actually produces the holiness
  • Two conclusions
    1. If we want more of his presence, then give attention to being faithful to him
    2. Spending time in his presence will actually have the effect of purifying us, so spend time worshipping, praying, and enjoying his presence

Updated on 2009-08-23 (r.42) by Andrew Fountain