How Does the Holy Spirit Feel About Human Sexuality?

In the fifteenth chapter of Acts, leaders in the church gathered to address the conflict that arose between Jewish Christians and Gentile believers.  Some teachers had gone out among the new gentile converts / churches and told them, essentially, that if they really wanted to be “saved” – if they wanted to be righteous, they’d need to follow all of the Torah. This caused no small frustration.

There was called a conference in Jerusalem for the elders and apostles to resolve this issue. They deliberated the matter until affirming that since the gentiles had received the Holy Spirit in the same way the Jews had, and that to place a burden on the gentiles that the Jews were unable to bear for generations, that they would require gentiles to observe only a handful of the elements of the Torah. Specifically, gentile believers should abstain from idolatry (from things offered to idols), from strangled meat and blood, and that they should abstain from sexual immorality.

What is important, absolutely, to grasp is that these were the things that were to be carried over that were unique to the Torah. Murder and theft were not on the “list,” but that doesn’t mean that it seemed good to the Holy Spirit that now those things were fine, and that any reference to them in the Torah were antiquated, obsolete. Rather, what is presented is an affirmation of things unique to the Torah that the Holy Spirit pressed as necessary for righteous living.

Prohibitions against murder were not unique to the Torah, nor laws against theft. By the time of the Jerusalem council, these types of regulations were not uncommon in any organized society. But what was NOT unlawful was various forms of sexual congress. Nor was idolatry illegal (just the opposite, in fact it was prescribed in many places). So, what the leaders in Jerusalem affirmed, under the affirmation of the Holy Spirit, were the unique elements of OT law that were germane to righteous living.

Among the requirements set forth by the leaders in Jerusalem was that believers should abstain from sexual immorality. Remember, these are regulations being imported from the Torah. Therefore, one must keep in mind that these Jewish leaders, prohibiting sexual immorality in all Christ-followers, had in mind the context of sexual immorality as delineated by Moses. For the Jew, sexual immorality meant any sexual relationship with any person in any way outside the sacred covenant of marriage between a man and a woman. Anything else was fornication. This is what “seemed good to the Holy Spirit” to prohibit.

It is hip to redefine sexual immorality in the context of contemporary culture. Today sexuality is “moral” if it is consenting. Violent sexuality is still considered wrong.  So, what is sexually moral is no longer a matter of the actual behavior, but the intent. If the intent is mutual stimulation, or even one-sided stimulation met with acquiescence, then it’s all fine. More than fine, in fact, it is celebrated. It is insisted upon. Practitioners of experimental sexual congress build for themselves small mole-hills and plant in them a flag of moral high-ground. And they demand agreement that their behavior is normal, normative, and in some cases, they require it to be recognized as holy – ordained by God Himself.

But no matter how loud their cry, no matter how many times they repeat their claim, it is still absurd. It is fornication.

Many claim that their aberrant sexual expression must be right – because it feels so right. It feels good; it’s fulfilling; it’s pleasant and even helps them feel close to their sexual partner. None of this is evidence for righteousness. There is nothing meritorious about an orgasm.

The ability to climax is not sacred. It’s nothing to be proud of, march in a parade over, or celebrate. In fact, the chemicals in the brain generate feelings of desire and commitment to someone after – because of – sexual release with that person. Literally the brain can be trained via sexual expression to bond to almost anything or anyone. So powerful is this bond, that victims of abuse who unwillingly experience sexual arousal might retain feelings of desire toward the experience.  It is precisely because of the fragile nature of human sexuality that it is so important to regard it as sacred, to protect it and use it as designed.

Human sexuality, as designed by God, to be shared in love, in a monogamous, heterosexual relationship, is sacred. Anything else is fornication. And it is pleasing (seems good to) to the Holy Spirit for believers to abstain from it.










The Oil that Consecrates



In Exodus 30:22-33, The Lord gave Moses directions to have a special oil made. Its contents are described in vv. 23-25. Certainly there is historical symbolic significance to each of the ingredients, but more significant to me is the purpose and effect of this oil.

After it was blended by a perfumer, it was a sacred anointing oil. In v. 26 The Lord says this oil is used to anoint the tent of meeting and the ark of the testimony and all the utensils, the lampstand, the altars, etc. In applying this oil to these items (anointing them), they became consecrated, and became most holy. Whoa. I slow down and do the math, imagining myself observing and processing this: applying this oil on that object has an effect on that object – it makes it different; it changes its purpose, it is consecrated; it is most holy. This oil on that has made it MOST HOLY. Before the oil, that lampstand was unique and precious. The ark of the testimony was something wonderful. The tent of meeting was uniquely constructed and marvelous. But this oil on those things changed them – the oil wasn’t a reward for their perfection; they weren’t anointed because they were holy. They were (became) holy because they were anointed. Wow. The Lord even says that whatever touches them becomes holy. This is to highlight the reverence prescribed for the anointing oil. It is that sacred and powerful. Wow.

And the next sentence is awesome (in the real, literal sense of that word). That oil is applied to Aaron and his sons. They are anointed with this oil. It consecrates them that they may serve as priests. Can you imagine that reverence, wonder, fear and gratitude? The same oil that anoints and consecrates the ark of the testimony gets poured on Aaron? If that were me, I would feel such a sense of wonder and humility and reverence. I’d say to myself, “I’ve been consecrated to the Lord. This oil has made me holy. I didn’t walk in here holy; I didn’t earn this; it’s not a reward; this is something that has happened to me that must affect everything I do from here on out. I am holy because of this oil; I must live in reverence and wonder of this fact. Even if I can’t see or smell the oil, I know this oil has been applied to my life and I can never be the same.”

Then the Lord says that this oil must never be poured on the body of an ordinary person. It was exclusive. And further, anybody that tried to manufacture this oil on their own… well, don’t (vv. 32-33).

I read this passage today, knowing that this oil represents and speaks to us of the Holy Spirit. His anointing consecrates, makes holy. And I am awe struck and I weep at the concept that this Holy Oil is not applied externally, but has come to abide and saturate my innermost person. And because of Jesus, that oil is for everyone who will trust in Christ. That holy oil, the Holy Spirit, has come to live in me. I am undone. I have become the temple of the Holy Spirit. What He anoints is most holy. The Holy Spirit makes me Holy. He doesn’t validate my own; He imparts His. And I, more than Aaron and his sons, bear the reverent, wondrous, blissful awareness that the Holy One lives in me.

How can I ever live the same way? I am consecrated. I am not my own. I have become His. There is no higher calling or purpose. Consecrated holiness is a reality I live from and because of – not a status I hope to acquire. Even if I fall; even when I plow head-first into the muck and mire of my own sin, there is a greater reality at work. I am defined by this oil; not by my failure. Sin is not my identity and shame is not my destiny. I can quickly repent of and reject filth and folly. I give thanks that because of His Presence effectively at work in me, I can indeed lay aside every weight and sin that easily entangles (Heb. 12). There is a greater reality at work in me, one not of my own doing or invention, one that I neither earned nor can I boast of. He has made me His. It is about that oil. The Holy Spirit makes me holy. The more deeply I believe this, the more boldly and consistently and reverently I live it. If I treat this Holy Oil lightly – as if it were of little import and consequence, then I am little moved and less resolved to live any differently. But I do not. I reverence Him. I trust Him. I trust IN Him. I yield to Him, receiving and relying upon His Person, Power – and Holiness – to live and work in me. I tremble in wonder and gratitude. I rejoice. I am undone. The Holy Spirit makes me holy.

Thanks for reading,


Be Holy


Peter writes that “just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: be holy, because I am holy” (I Peter 1:15-16). Is it possible that Peter intends to insist that we be holy just as God is holy? Yup.

Why Be Holy?

In Peter’s command to be holy and in his OT quote of the same, the reason for holiness is because God is Holy. Be holy because God is. We are to be holy in everything we do, because God is.  At first blush this seems like idealistic hyperbole, like wishful thinking. But maybe not. We were, in fact, created in the image and likeness of God. We aren’t divine, but were made to reflect His divinity. In creation we were made to bear the image and likeness of the one who created us, and in redemption we are created-in-Christ to bear the image and likeness of the One who calls us.

When I am I like Him, when I reflect His image, I am my most authentic self. My truest self is Him. Holiness is not strange or alien; it is truth; it is reality. It is my real self as created by Him who calls me His own.

How Holy?

This begs the question – how can I be holy? Peter’s double imperative includes two different syntaxes. The OT passage he quotes (v. 16) uses syntax that implies that the recipients of the command act in such a way as to be (or become) holy. The onus is on the audience. But Peter’s own voice (v. 15) issues the command passively. This seems to imply that though both the Old and New Covenants contain the same imperative to be Holy, the means of Holiness are not the same. I don’t know if under the OT it was possible to fully embrace / embody the Holiness God required. It seems clear that it was not.

But when Peter says to be holy in all we do, because he is using the passive verb of “be,” he is saying “be made Holy.” In Christ, I am not working or trying to be Holy. In Christ I am made Holy. Made Holy. That is something God does to me and for me in Christ. It isn’t something I try to do; it is something He has made me. The Holy Spirit makes me Holy. God does not give His Spirit to people because they are holy; He gives His Spirit to people to make them Holy. I am the temple of the Holy Spirit. When I know this, and believe it deeply, I live out of that reality, out of that identity. And I act like who I am in all I do. My “do” comes directly from my “who.”

This makes sense, because that is how God is Holy. God’s holiness is simply the normal expression of His Nature. He is Holy in all He does because He IS Holy. God’s holiness is not defined by what he doesn’t do. Holiness is not defined by what it is not. God is not holy because he avoids doing certain things on a sacred list. Holiness originates and emanates from Him.

Therefore, I cannot be holy (or be made holy) by attempting to observe and keep a list of things to do, and avoid another list of things I should not do. No list-keeping will make me holy. Nor can I rely on my own frame of reference to determine what holiness is. My frame of reference is at best limited. Holiness is not my idea. Nor does holiness come from common consent. Holiness does not a rise from a committee nor does it result from a vote. If we rely on lists or on our own ideas, the result can only be a limited or legalistic “less-than.” Instead, we realize, gladly and gratefully, that Holiness comes from God. It is defined by Him and effected by Him.

Yes, scripture provides examples of the attributes of the Holiness God desires, and these examples should absolutely inform our expectations for what the Holy Spirit will produce in our life. These attributes are landscaped throughout epistolary literature, but in general they look like: loving one another deeply, being kind, honest, loyal and compassionate, and forgiving one another as God in Christ forgave us. Further, there are examples of what genuine holiness precludes – attitudes and actions that are fundamentally contrary to the nature of God – most often forbidden are vices like: anger, slander, evil speech, every form of malice, harsh words and hard feelings (yes, those two things are UNHOLY), and sexual impurity of any kind. To be clear on that point: sex is holy, sexual immorality is not. These examples help to form and forge our focus, they inform our faith. But our faith is not in our behavior, it is in the One who calls us and gives us His Spirit. In Christ, God has made me Holy. In scripture, God has given me examples of what that does and does not look like.

So, dear friends, when responding to the God’s great command to be Holy, we have reason, means, and example. Therefore, as image bearers, let us be the likeness of Him who created us and called us. Let us be holy.

If this or any post on this site encourages you, please feel free to share with others. And, as always, thanks for reading.

~ Dav