Archives

Principles of Holiness – Principle 9

Holiness Principle #9 – I will be a slave to nothing except Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 6:12-20

12 “Everything is permissible for me”-but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me”-but I will not be mastered by anything.
13 “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food”-but God will destroy them both. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.
14 By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also.
15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never!
16 Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.”
17 But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit.
18 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.
19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;
20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.
(NIV)

Before we begin studying these verses, the first thing that I want to say is that although this passage is directly written against sexual immorality, you can apply it to many other sins that we commit with our body besides just sexual immorality. You are not off the hook if you don’t have a problem with sexual immorality.

In the beginning of verse 12, Paul says that all things are lawful for him. Another way of saying this same phrase is that all things are permissible. Paul is not saying that sin is permissible. Within the context of 1 Corinthians, what Paul is saying is that the Christian is not bound by legalism, either to the Mosaic law, or to the customs of their culture. In particular, the letter of 1 Corinthians is written in large part to address the matter of whether or not it is right to eat meat which had been sacrificed to idols and then sold in the market.

But even though Paul says that all things are lawful for him, he goes on to say two things in contrast to this freedom. First, Paul says that even though all things are lawful for him, not all things are beneficial to him. Another way to say this is that not all things are helpful or expedient. It is easy to think of some parallels in our society today. Such might be smoking or alcohol. Second, Paul says that even though all things are lawful for him, he will not be brought under the power of any of these things. Paul says that he will not be mastered by anything. In a similar vein, Paul writes in Galatians 5:1 “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (NIV)

In the first part of verse 13, Paul gives a specific example of what he is talking about in verse 12. “Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods, but God will destroy both it and them.” (NKJV) Two things that need to be pointed out here. First, notice that all material things have their appropriate use. Food is made for the hungry stomach, not as a drug for depression or loneliness. Drugs are made for healing, not for recreation. Sex is made for marriage, not for experimentation. Second, notice that all material things have their appointed end. Food and the stomach are not worth being mastered by because they will both pass out of existence before too long. Matthew Henry, in his commentary on this verse, makes a very good point. “The expectation we have of being without bodily appetites in a future life is a very good argument against being under their power in the present life.

In the last half of verse 13, Paul extends the discussion of freedom to the matter of sexual immorality. Just as food and the stomach are suitable to each other, the body and the Lord are suitable to each other. And then natural extension of this fact is that the body is not suitable to sexual immorality. Just as the Corinthian church had a problem with what to do with meat offered to idols, it had an even worse problem with sexual immorality in the church. In 1 Corinthians 5:1 Paul writes this: “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles — that a man has his father’s wife!” (NKJV)

Now, we must ask the question “Why?” Why is it that the things we do with our bodies – things like gluttony, illegal drugs, excessive drinking, and particularly sexual immorality – have an eternal impact? In verses 14-20, Paul gives us seven reasons why the things we do with our bodies in the here and now have an eternal impact. Allow me to give you a brief overview of the major theme of these verses. Look through them and see how many times you see the words “fornication”, “sexual immorality”, “harlot”, and “prostitute”. These are all forms of a single Greek word – “pornea”.

The first reason our actions have an internal impact is because we will be resurrected, just as Jesus Christ was resurrected. Verse 14 says “And God both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His power.” (NKJV) Even though Jesus had a new body that was able to do miraculous things, he still bore in him the marks of his crucifixion. Is it unreasonable to think that we might also bear the marks of what we have done with our bodies into eternity?

The second reason our actions have an eternal impact is because our bodies are members of Jesus’ body. This is seen in verse 15. “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not!” (NKJV) We learned in our study of spiritual gifts that we are all parts of one body, and Jesus Christ is head of that body. When we do stupid things with our body, we do stupid things with the entire body of Jesus Christ. In Paul’s specific example, if one Christian participates in sexual immorality, its effect is that the entire body of Christ has participated in sexual immorality.

The third reason our actions have an eternal impact is because our bodies are inseparably made one flesh with whatever – or whoever – we choose to join them with. This is seen in verses 16-17. “Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For “the two,” He says, “shall become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.” (NKJV) Two examples are given in these verses. First, anyone that chooses to participate in sexual immorality with another person has made themselves one flesh with that other person. That was God’s rule from the beginning, and while it is blessed in marriage, it is still true outside of marriage. Second, anyone who has made the decision to join with Jesus Christ is one in spirit with him. Do you see the word “joined” twice in verses 16-17? Or perhaps your version of the Bible has the word “united”. It is the Greek word “kolloa”. It is the verb form of the noun “kolla”, which means “glue”. Verses 16-17 might have been much more graphic if the translators had used the literal meaning of the word. You may choose to be glued to another person in sexual immorality, or glued to the Lord. Take your pick.

The fourth reason our actions have an eternal impact is because there are certain sins – particularly sexual immorality – that are sins which directly defile our own bodies, and also the body of another person. In verse 18 we read “Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.” (NKJV) Another thing to note in this verse: there are many temptations that we are told to stand up against, and to fight. Sexual immorality is a sin that we are told to flee.

The fifth reason our actions have an eternal impact is because we have the eternal Holy Spirit living inside our bodies. We read in verse 19 “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” (NKJV) When we as Christians choose to sin, we desecrate the temple which the Holy Spirit lives in within our bodies.

The sixth reason our actions have an eternal impact is because our bodies no longer belong to us. That is the message of verses 19-20. “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (NKJV) Our bodies were purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ. They belong to God. And when we sin with our bodies, we dishonor God who owns our bodies. Take for example a new car. If you wrecked a brand new car, which would be worse, if it was yours or if it were a friend’s? Of course it would be worse if it were a friend’s. Because it does not belong to me.

The seventh reason our actions have an eternal impact is because of the price that was paid for our bodies. We read in verse 20 “For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (NKJV) The word “bought” near the beginning of verse 20 is the Greek word for “market”, and here carries the idea of being bought in the slave market. The idea is this: we were a slave to sin, but God paid the price of the blood of Jesus Christ to buy us away from sin and to his glory. When we sin, we run away from God to serve our old master. Go back to idea of wrecking a friend’s brand new car. Would it be worse if it cost $300 or $30,000? The latter, of course. But that is not the order of magnitude we are talking about. When we sin, it is like we are wrecking a friend’s $3 million dollar one-of-a-kind Rolls Royce. Because that is just a hint of the price God paid for you.

This is the conclusion of the Principles of Holiness.

By Berean Husband

Here are the links for the previous Principles for Holiness posts.









Share

Principles of Holiness – Principle 8

Holiness Principle #8 – Holiness means more than abstaining from evil, it means abstaining from even the appearance of evil. 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22


21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
22 Abstain from all appearance of evil
. (KJV)

You may have noticed that I switched from the NIV to the KJV when giving the primary verses behind this principle, and for good reason. In the NIV, 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 reads like this: “Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.” (NIV) Other versions of the Bible such as the NKJV render the last phrase “every form of evil.” I think that these later examples are not the best translations, and I think that the KJV has the right idea here. The Greek word which is translated alternately as “appearance”, “kind”, or “form” is the word “eidos”, which comes from the Greek word “eido”, which means “to perceive by the senses”. Everywhere this word is used in the Bible, it means “outward appearance” or “shape.” So when the NIV uses the word “kind” or when the NKJV uses the word “form”, we should not understand this as kinds or types of evil. We should understand this as everything that has the outward shape of evil. I believe that God’s word is calling for us to take a stand on the higher ground. We must avoid what may appear wrong, even if it is not wrong.

Pastor James MacDonald has an article which has been quite popular and quite controversial which puts this principle into practice. The following is an excerpt from James MacDonald’s article “Five Moral Fences”.

“1. I will not, under any circumstances, ride alone in a car with a female other than my wife or an immediate family member.”

“2. I do not counsel a woman in a closed room or more than once.”

“3. I do not stay alone in a hotel overnight.”

“4. I speak often and publicly of my affection for my wife, when she’s present and when she’s not.”

“5. Compliment the character or the conduct, not the coiffure or the clothing.”

As I look at this list, I notice two things. First, I notice that, while none of these things are in and of themselves sinful, they could each one be an easy gateway into sin. I guess that is why MacDonald calls these fences. Fences are designed to keep things out. Gates are designed to let things in. Having spent a lot of time on the road and in a hotel alone, I know how easy it is to fall into sin. Three ingredients needed to foster sinful activity are present in a hotel room: availability of sinful things, plenty of time, and no accountability.

Second, I notice that, while none of these things are in and of themselves sinful, each one could be easily misconstrued as sinful by an observer. What will someone think of me if they see me sitting in a restaurant with another woman? Perhaps I had no intention of sinning, but the person who sees me and knows that the other woman at the table with me is not my wife, cannot read my mind.

In the same article, MacDonald gives this piece of advice: “Make the fences public.” It is too easy to take down a moral fence unless everyone around you knows about your moral fence.

A comment is in order here. While the listing of moral fences given above is excellent, it might not be your list. Everyone’s situation is different. I would imagine that the listing of moral fences might be somewhat different for a woman than for a man. In my work, I travel alone quite a bit. One of my moral fences is that in a restaurant, I will not allow the host or hostess to seat me at the bar. I go to a restaurant to eat, not to drink or meet someone. While there is nothing wrong with sitting at the bar alone in a restaurant, to me it is avoiding the appearance of evil.

And one more comment is needed here. It is a reiteration from previous principles we have already discussed. Build your moral fences now. Do not wait until you are in a situation to decide what your moral fence is going to be. Do you think the quarterback of a football team waits until the ball is snapped before he decides what the play will be? No, he knows the play he wants to run before the ball is snapped. And everyone else on the field with him knows the play also.

Now, this is what I hear someone out there saying. “You mean to tell me that I can’t do something just because it looks wrong, even though I know it’s not wrong? There’s going to be a lot of things that I can’t do.” And I respond “Right.” But why? Why is it so important to avoid even the appearance of evil? Paul writing in Titus 2:7-8, says this: “In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.” (NIV) We are to avoid even the appearance of evil because we want to avoid anything that might discredit Jesus Christ in the eyes of someone and thereby destroy our Christian witness to them. How many people have been falsely accused of doing evil, but they lived their lives in such a manner that no one would believe their defense?

How do we know what appears to be evil so we can avoid it? The answer to this question takes us back to our primary verses. Read 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 again. “Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.” (NIV) In order to determine if anything has even the appearance of evil, we must test everything. And once we have tested it, we only hold on to it if it is good. A couple of words would be in order here: diligence and discernment. We must be diligent. Test everything. Nothing can be allowed to go through the gate in our moral fence untested. We must also be discerning. We must have a keen awareness of what is good to hold on to, and what may even appear to be evil, to avoid.

By Berean Husband

Here are the links for the previous Principles for Holiness posts.







Share

Principles of Holiness – Principle 7

Holiness Principle #7 – Holiness means more than just not doing what is wrong, it means striving to do what is profitable for the kingdom of God.


1 Corinthians 10:23-33

23 “Everything is permissible”-but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible”-but not everything is constructive.
24 Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.
25 Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience,
26 for, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.”
27 If some unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience.
28 But if anyone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, both for the sake of the man who told you and for conscience’ sake—
29 the other man’s conscience, I mean, not yours. For why should my freedom be judged by another’s conscience?
30 If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for?
31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
32 Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God—
33 even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.
(NIV)

I was teaching on these principles of holiness in my Sunday School class recently and the question came up about the holiness of doing things that I enjoy but don’t produce good, righteous, and true fruit. An example was given of going to a football game, but the question can literally extend to many different areas of life. A trip to a college football game here in Alabama can consume most of a Saturday and also hundreds of dollars. So, is there anything inherently wrong with going to a football game, or fishing, or to the beach? No, I do not believe there is anything inherently wrong with these kinds of activities. There are things that we all do for enjoyment, for recreation, and for pleasure that the fruit thereof is not readily apparent. Are these activities unholy?

As we attempt to answer this question, let me first of all say that I am not against having fun. I enjoy free time and recreational activities just like any other guy. I don’t care for football, but I do go see a baseball game every once in a while. I say this just so you know that I am not a radical person who has denounced all pleasures of life.

There is, however, a good answer to the question about the holiness of doing things we enjoy but that produce no righteous fruit. The answer is found in 1 Corinthians 10:23. I like the reading in the NASB. “All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify.” (NASB) As we think about the activities in our lives, we can consider them in one of two different ways. Some people, as they consider their activities, ask themselves this question: “Would this be wrong for me to do? Would I sin if I did this activity?” Other people look at the activities of their lives and ask themselves this question: “Is this the right thing to do? Would I please God if I did this?” 1 Corinthians 10:23 gives us two criteria by which we can judge the activities of our lives.

First, 1 Corinthians 10:23 tells us that although something may be lawful for me to, it may not be profitable. The NIV uses the word “beneficial”, and the KJV uses the word “expedient”. The Greek word is “sumphero”. The basic meaning of this word is to “collect together”, as in to gather up and carry. Here is an example of this idea. Anyone who has had a child for the last fifteen years knows Thomas the Tank Engine. He is called a “really useful engine.” Why? Because there were times that he performed beyond expectations. How about you? When the world looks at you as a Christian, do they see someone who is performing as they would expect, or do they see someone who is performing beyond expectations. Are you occupied by doing the minimum required to be a Christian, or are you being profitable for the kingdom of God?

Second, 1 Corinthians 10:23 tells us that although something may be lawful for me to, it may not edify the body of Christ. The NIV uses the word “constructive” here. This is the Greek word “oikedomeo.” It literally means a “house-builder.” Another example is in order here. A couple of years ago, our church put a metal roof on the house of one our members. We had a team of guys ranging from children to youths to grown men. I noticed that some of the youths were content to play in the yard, while others were doing great work. Those that were contributing to the work were edifying to the work. Those who did not work were not necessarily detracting, but they definitely were not contributing. So, again, we can ask ourselves if our actions are building up the body of Christ, or are we just standing on the sidelines watching others do the work?

What are some examples of how our own holiness can be profitable for the kingdom of God and edifying to the body of Christ? As we continue our examination of 1 Corinthians 10:23-33, we can find several examples of what is expected of us in order to be profitable and edifying.

In verse 24, we see that we can be profitable and edifying by looking out for the good of other people. “Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.” (NIV) Instead of focusing on what would be good for us to do, we are called to focus on doing things that would be good for other people. That means I need to get away from the “me-centered” focus and move toward a “you-centered” focus.

We can be profitable and edifying if we enjoy the things that God has given you without straining out the gnats of useless controversy. This is seen in verses 25-26. “Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, for, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.” (NIV) We often disparage the kingdom of God and damage others around us by constantly looking for the evil in things in which there is no evil. We need to have proper discernment, but discernment is not a license to look for a demon behind every tree.

We can be profitable and edifying if we perform beyond the expectations of the unbelieving world. Verses 27-29 actually present two different scenarios. Both scenarios involving going to an unbelievers house to eat a meal. In the first scenario, the unbeliever serves you a steak. You will perform beyond the expectations of the unbeliever if you dig right in without asking where the steak came from. But in the second scenario, you get the same steak, but it comes with a test. In verse 28, the steak comes with the express verbal statement that the meat had been offered to an idol. You will perform beyond the expectations of the unbeliever if you do not eat the steak because you are being tested.

We can be profitable and edifying if we are thankful to God for all things. We see this idea in verse 30. “If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for?” (NIV) Let’s go back to the college football game. Even this can be profitable and edifying if you thank God for the fun and perhaps for the fellowship and family time together, unless you go alone. Even if your team loses. Even if your team loses really bad. Would it not be a breath of fresh air to see a Christian at a football game honestly worshipping God instead of their team?

We can be profitable and edifying if we test everything we do against the glory of God. Read verse 31 with me again. “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (NIV) An excellent test for any activity is to ask yourself “Can I do this for the glory of God?” Even the most mundane things in life can be put to this test. In verse 31, we are told that we can eat in such a manner that it will bring glory to God, and we can drink in such a manner that it will bring glory to God. In fact, verse 31 tells us that just about everything we do on a regular, daily basis can be done to the glory of God. But those things which cannot be done to the glory of God will stick out like a sore thumb.

We can be profitable and edifying if we take the time to think about the ramifications of our actions. Our actions may seem innocent enough now, but we may never know what will happen to someone else because of what we do. We see this idea in verses 32-33. “Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— even as I try to please everybody in every way.” (NIV) Notice that Paul tells us that we need to be concerned about those outside of our immediate circle. He tells the Corinthians to think about the Jews, the Greeks, and the church as they consider their actions.

The end of verse 33 is an excellent conclusion to this matter. “For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.” (NIV) What is our ultimate goal as we seek to be profitable to the kingdom of God and edifying to the body of Christ? We are to seek to do what is good for many, And what is the best thing that can be done for the many? All things should be done so that other people may be saved.

By Berean Husband

Here are the links for the previous Principles for Holiness posts.

Share

Principles of Holiness – Principle 6

Holiness Principle #6 – I will have solid convictions in my life which line up with the word of God and I will strive to live according to those convictions.

Romans 14:22-23

22 So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves.
23 But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.
(NIV)

Romans 14 verses 22-23 are about convictions. Particularly, these verses are about having convictions concerning what some people might call “disputable matters” or “gray areas.” That is what is meant by the term “these things” in verse 22. Paul is talking primarily about eating meat which had been sacrificed to an idol in Romans chapter 14. The Christian who is strong in faith realizes that there is nothing inherently wrong with the meat. But the Christian who is weaker in faith believes that such an action would be a sin. By extension, we can take this principle of eating meat and apply it to other “disputable matters.” The Christian who is strong in faith realizes the extent of the liberty he has in Jesus Christ. The weaker brother or sister may still have reservations based on their culture, upbringing, or bad teaching. So, as we consider the matter of the strong Christian and the weak Christian, you will find that there is a contrast between belief and doubt in these two verses, Romans 14:22-23.

First, let’s examine the matter of belief. This is seen in verse 22. “So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves.” (NIV) This verse is primarily aimed at the Christian who is strong in faith. And there are two ideas in this verse that we need to comprehend. First, the convictions which you hold, particularly regarding disputable matters, are between you and God. This is seen in the first half of verse 22. “So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God.” (NIV) We examined this idea in detail when we considered Holiness Principle #3, but it bears repeating here. This is particularly aimed at the Christian who is strong in faith and has strong convictions. I must realize that my convictions may not line up with your convictions. You would not want to live your life based on my convictions, and I would not want to live my life based on your convictions. It is before God that each one of us must stand or fall.

The other half of verse 22 tells is that we can condemn ourselves by what we believe. “Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves.” (NIV) There are several ways that a Christian, particularly a Christian who is strong in faith, may condemn themselves by what they believe.

First, you can condemn yourself if your convictions are contrary to the word of God. There are Christians who do not believe that abortion is wrong. That would be a conviction which is contrary to the word of God.

Second, you can condemn yourself if your convictions are not based on the word of God. You might have a conviction that it is wrong to wear a blue suit on Sunday. Your conviction, while it is not sinful, is not based on a principle from the word of God. It is worthless to have convictions about meaningless things.

Third, you can condemn yourself if you do not consider the weaker brother or sister in Christ when your exercise your liberty in what you have right convictions about.

Fourth, you can condemn yourself if you rightly hold a good conviction and then fail to live by it. Job made a covenant with his eyes not to look lustfully at women (see Job 31:1). That’s a great conviction. I suppose that there are many men, me included, who have made that same commitment. And I suppose that there are many men, me included, who fail at keeping this commitment on a routine basis.

Now, regarding the matter of doubt. This is seen in verse 23. “But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.” (NIV) The idea we see here is that I should do nothing unless I am sure that it is right to do. Living in doubt about whether something is right or wrong is a terrible place to be. This means that I need to have convictions developed before I face a particular situation. In the midst of a difficult decision is no place to begin working on a conviction. If I can’t do something confident that it is the right thing to do, it is wrong for me to do it, even if it isn’t wrong to do. I just heard someone out there say “No way! You mean I can sin by doing something that isn’t wrong to do?” That’s right. That’s what the first part of verse 23 says. “But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith” (NIV) The person who does something which they have doubts about sins, even if it wasn’t wrong to do. If you are not sure, don’t do it. How can that be? Here are a few quick thoughts that might put it in perspective.

God doesn’t want us wavering between two opinions. In the story of Elijah battling with the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel, we read this interesting verse in 1 Kings 18:21 “Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” But the people said nothing.” (NIV) These people were wavering between two opinions, and it was a stench before God.

God wants us to live a life which is fully based on faith and not reliance on only what we see. In Hebrews 11:1-2, we read “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for
and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended
for
.” (NIV)

God wants us to live a life which is based on convictions according to principles taken from the word of God. Hebrews 4:12 says “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (NIV)

The end of verse 23 is an excellent conclusion to this matter. “and everything that does not come from faith is sin.” (NIV) I have heard this half of verse 23 taken out of context as a proof text to say that the unregenerate person sins in everything they do, because it is not done from faith. I doubt this theology. Taken in context, this is addressing the Christian, not the unbeliever. And taken in context, the end of verse 23 tells us that when we fail to establish right convictions and then live based on those convictions, we sin.

By Berean Husband

See also:

Principles of Holiness – Principle 1

Principles of Holiness – Principle 2

Principles of Holiness – Principle 3

Principles of Holiness – Principle 4

Principles of Holiness – Principle 5

Principles of Holiness – Principle 6

Principles of Holiness – Principle 7

Principles of Holiness – Principle 8

Principles of Holiness – Principle 9

Share

Principles of Holiness – Principle 1

Principles of Holiness

I believe that the primary challenge facing the evangelical church in America today is that it has set itself free from the shore of holiness and is adrift in an ocean where the boundaries of separation that should exist between the church and the world have become blurred. In an effort to reject legalism of the hyper-fundamental church, the modern evangelical church has instead become entangled in licentiousness. However, most of the modern evangelical churches which have drifted so far from shore did not need to worry about legalism. To paraphrase a sermon I heard recently: Unless your church has had a few horses and buggies tied up in the parking lot on Sunday morning lately, legalism is probably not a problem in your church. I firmly believe that the only hope for the survival of the modern evangelical church in America is a return to holiness. And this return to holiness requires that each and every Christian live their lives based on a set of convictions. Every decision made which is not based on a conviction stands a good chance of being unholy and displeasing to the Lord. Right, good, and pleasing decisions are easy to make when they are based on a foundation of convictions built on holiness.

What does the word “holiness” really mean? In the New Testament, the word “holiness” is derived from the familiar Greek word “hagios”, which, according to Strong’s Dictionary, means ‎”sacred, pure, morally blameless, or consecrated”. The idea of holiness in the Old Testament often involved something that was set apart for the exclusive use of the Lord. The book of Exodus mentions a gold plate which was engraved with the words “HOLY TO THE LORD” and placed on the clothing of the high priest (Exodus 28:36). I believe that one reason things were set apart for exclusive use by the Lord is so that they would not be defiled by the world. How many Christians who should be holy and set apart for the Lord have made themselves useless to God because they continue to live a life which is defiled by the world?

I have prepared this paper to describe a set of convictions which I resolve to hold to build a foundation of holiness in my life. I realize that my time here on earth is short. So I resolve not to waste it doing things which are displeasing to the Lord. After all, it is in His presence that I must spend eternity. I also realize that the world is watching me. Will they see anything different in my life? Will anyone be convicted of their ungodliness because they see me trying to live a life of holiness, dedicated and pleasing to the Lord?

Holiness Principle #1 – There must not be even a hint of impurity in the life of a Christian.

Ephesians 5:3-5

3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.
4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.
5 For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person — such a man is an idolater — has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
(NIV)

As I write this, I am holding in my hand a bar which is one troy ounce of pure silver. Well, not exactly pure. It says on the bar that it is .999 pure, which means that it has .1% impurities in it. 999 parts of 1000 of the silver bar are completely pure. Now, that’s pretty pure, isn’t it? What do you think God would think about your life if it contained only .1% impurities? Of the 1000 things that make you who you are, only one of them isn’t really all that pure. Would he say you’re doing a pretty good job? No, He would say that you are going to Hell. Sometimes some things that seem to be pure are not really pure. It might be this bar of silver. Or it might be the life of a Christian.

The truth we learn about purity from Ephesians 5:3-6 is that the opposite of purity is perversion. In these verses, Paul gives us six examples of the impurity that can defile our lives. Let’s look at these one word at a time.

First, there is immorality. This is the Greek word “pornea”. This includes all forms of sexual sin such as adultery, fornication, pornography, and lust.

Second, there is impurity. Some versions of the Bible use the word “uncleanness”. It is used elsewhere in the Bible to describe a body decaying in the grave.

Third, there is greed. This is also called covetousness. This is wanting something that does not belong to you.

Fourth, there is obscenity. This is any talk that is degrading of another person. It might have to do with sex or maybe with race or with social status.

Fifth, there is foolish talk. The Greek word here is “morologeo”, literally “moron-words”. This is what you hear coming out of the mouths of some teenagers sitting in a fast food restaurant, where every other word these days is “Oh my God”. Those are the words of a moron.

Sixth, there is coarse jesting. This is turning every comment into something obscene or suggestive.

If we read the end of verse 3, we understand the relationship that should existing between the Christian and impurity: “because these are improper for God’s holy people.” (NIV) What is the proper separation of the Christian from these impurities? They are all improper for God’s holy people. I like the way the KJV puts it “let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints” (KJV) More than not being in your life, they should not even be a hint of any of these things among the lives of God’s people.

So just how serious is this matter of purity? Surely God doesn’t expect complete purity in our lives. See if any of these statements characterize your life.

I have a habit or two that I just can’t seem to shake. I used to be more pure, but I’ve allowed a couple of impure things to slip into my life. There is a coarse word or two in my vocabulary that I should probably not say. Every once in a while I watch a movie or a television show that has a suggestive or sexual scene or perhaps some vulgar language.”

Just how serious is this matter of purity? Look at verse 5. “For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person — such a man is an idolater — has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.” (NIV) God’s word says that the person who gives harbor to impurity in their lives has no place in the kingdom of God. Impurity is an idol. The result of prolonged, unrepented, unchanged impurity in our life is a ticket to Hell. Let’s be rid of the impurity in our lives.

At this point someone in here is saying to themselves something like this: “No one is perfect. Everyone has some impurity in their lives.” Yes, both of those things are true. Someone else is thinking: “Isn’t God going to forgive me?” If you are a Christian, yes he will. Thank God that the righteous blood of Jesus Christ washes away all our impurities. However, even if we can’t be perfect, and even if we will be forgiven, that does not mean we can coast here on earth. Hebrews 12:14 tells us “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord” (NKJV) I want to make it clear that being a Christian means that you have repented of your sins and have been given a new heart by Jesus Christ. But repentance is to be a continual thing – a continual transforming of your heart and life into a thing of holiness, a fragrant offering to God.

by Berean Husband

See also:

Principles of Holiness – Principle 1

Principles of Holiness – Principle 2

Principles of Holiness – Principle 3

Principles of Holiness – Principle 4

Principles of Holiness – Principle 5

Principles of Holiness – Principle 6

Principles of Holiness – Principle 7

Principles of Holiness – Principle 8

Principles of Holiness – Principle 9

Share