The Spirit Filled Marriage 9: The Priority of Holiness


  • Holiness in marriage
  • Holiness by marriage


When Lynn and I got married, we asked our pastor to not skimp on the preaching of God’s word and give us a full sermon. We still remember the points of that sermon. He spoke about the purpose of marriage and had 4 ‘P’s to answer. Marriage is for procreation, partnership, pleasure and perfection. It is this last purpose of marriage, perfection that we will be considering this morning. Paul has commanded husbands to love their wives, v25. This action is not self-determined and defined but Paul tells us Christ’s self-giving in sacrificial love is the example we are to follow, v25. In v26 Paul points out that Christ did His immeasurable act of sacrifice because He sought to sanctify Himself a bride. Christ’s purpose is saving us was to make us a holy people for Himself, as Paul says in another place, ‘who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works,’ Titus 2:14. Listen to this emphasis carefully, this will determine the shape of our message this morning. Jesus suffered to make us holy. He began this process of making us holy by washing us with the water of the word, v26. When we heard the word of truth, when we heard that we are sinners who cannot cleanse ourselves from sin, or even stop sinning, and that God offers us a new legal status being willing to offer us the gift to dress us in Jesus righteousness, we believed the God who cannot lie and we trusted in the free gift. God washed us, He gave us a clean slate, He planted us in His Son who now represents us with His holiness. And verse 27 sets before us the end goal that Christ’s suffering was serving, ‘so that he might present the church to himself in splendour, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.’ Jesus is seeking a people who are not only justified, but who are sanctified and one day glorified. He seeks a people who will be free from all the guilt and pollution of sin.

The love of marriage is defined by Christ’s love which seeks our highest good in holiness. This is a distinctive of Christian marriage, this is one of the things that makes it totally different to the marriage of unbelievers. Today there will be those who will speak of marriage as a way of bettering oneself. Modern marriage is judged a success if two people find mutual benefit and who mature and develop one another as people. Christian marriage can sound similar but is totally different. The success of Christian marriage is not judged by how many of your selfish desires are satisfied or how many selfish desires you can satisfy for your spouse. Christ, the Second person of the Trinity, condescended an infinite amount that our puny minds cannot fathom, in order to love, wash the feet, and pay the price to win adoption for His enemies who deserve nothing but eternal hell. Not in order for us to have everything our sinful desires and finite perspectives can contrive, but to make us holy. We were made in the image of God in Eden, as man and wife they were made in God’s image, but sin came into the world and Christ has come to restore the glory of God in humanity. Marriage must then have at its heart the same desire for holiness that Christ has for His Church. Is the willingness to sacrifice all for the holiness of your spouse and family what drives you? Is this the heart that lies behind the love you show in marriage? Today we are going to remind ourselves that holiness is a priority in marriage, and marriage is a means of holiness as well.