Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, and fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy” – 1 Peter 1:13-16
What an amazing command, God expects us to be holy, like him! What a terrifying expectation that God wants us to be like Him! How do broken human beings have a remote chance of living up to the prospect of being holy? We know that we are not perfect and the idea of being holy seems just as idealistic as being perfect. How can this begin to be realistic?
Holiness is fundamentally the idea of being set apart with God. Quite literally it flows from the fact that God has chosen us to be part of his family. We belong to Him; we live under His authority now that we are His children. As the text indicates, holiness is about being obedient children, not perfect children. We are to honor God as our Father and learn from Him as any children would learn from their own parents. God has much to teach us and our whole mode of existence is about learning how to live in this “whole new world” under Christ.
Holiness is about imitating God in every way. This too sounds preposterous, but the Scriptures are clear we are to be holy as He is holy in all our behavior. Essentially this advocates spiritual concentration. I am to deny self, take up my cross and follow Christ. We are to be imitators of God as beloved children and walk in love just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us (Ephesians 5:1-2). One of the most powerful ways to imitate God, to be holy, is to love in the way God loves. God’s love is willing to sacrifice what was most precious to Himself in order to respond to the deepest needs of humanity (John 3:16). We are to love others sacrificially in order to respond to their deepest needs. God does not love us the way we are, he loves us despite who we are (Rom. 5:6-8). God only accepts us when we respond to his love in Christ by faith (Rom. 3:27-28). We are not to love and accept people the way they are, we are to love them despite who they are – we “accept” people on the same basis as God does, when they place faith in Christ.
Holiness is a call to purity of life. This is often the only way we think about holiness, and while it certainly is not wrong to see holiness includes righteousness as an integral part of the nature of His character, the only way this can be accomplished is if we see that our body (our life) is the temple of a living person called the Spirit of God. He indwells our life, and interacts and engages our heart and mind, constantly teaching and instructing us by His grace. Holiness means inward purity. To choose to NOT set our minds on the things of the flesh but on those things that are praiseworthy, honoring to the Lord, and consistent with His character. This is about obedience to our Father not proving our own ability to manage the Flesh.
Holiness is about surrender. We have been bought with a price (the cost of His Only Son) and we are not our own. This is what it means to understand holiness – it is like being picked for a team sport. When we are chosen, we have to abide by the coach and there are certain ways that a team operates to win. God has given us a new uniform, a new relationship with His Son and we are to live in a way that is consistent with the purpose He has chosen us – to be holy!
Pastor Brad Little