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.
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