Just thinking about being thought of as holy or attaining this wholly lofty ideal makes we want to say, “Holy archangels Batman!” I can’t quite fathom it!
Days 15 and 16 in the Bible study are on holiness. Trying to comprehend how holy God is, what it means to say we’re holy, and how to live to become holy.
“You shall be holy, for I am holy,” says God in 1 Peter 1:16b it’s a command from God Himself.
Haven’t you ever shuddered when you think of yourself as a saint? And yet we who have found salvation in Jesus are considered saints – set apart for God. Clearly my behavior at that gas station outlined in the last two posts was very unsaint-like! But how can we possibly hope to be holy? Let’s look at the entire passage from Peter though for a clue.
14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires of your former ignorance. 15 But as the One who called you is holy, you also are to be holy in all your conduct; 16 for it is written, Be holy, because I am holy. ~ 1 Peter 1:14-16
We hear echoes of verse 14 throughout the New Testament. Don’t fall back into your old pattern of living. When I became born again, I had the hardest time kicking myself free of my former life. Now that I write that out – I see it was probably because I tried to do it on my own. “I had the hardest time …” It’s true. I didn’t allow anyone to help me grow, I didn’t ask for help assuming I could do it on my own, nor did I ask for Jesus’ help to strengthen my resolve. What that did is lengthen the time it took me to start living holy.
Verse 15 is pretty awe-inspiring isn’t it? The one who called us … God. The Almighty. The Alpha and the Omega. Heavenly Father. So holy that when heavenly beings speak of His holiness they cry out three times … “Holy Holy Holy is the Lord God Almighty…” ~ Revelation 4:8b Anytime a word is used in succession like that in the Bible, it’s emphatic or superlative. Making, in this case, God’s holiness even more so – the most most most holy.
So here is our God calling us to be holy in our conduct. I get the meaning pure and true. Can we do it? I know we can try and certainly that is what God is working us toward … our holiness … our Christ-likeness.
Then, in verse 16, Peter reminds us that God Himself is our standard for Christian living. He states, “For it is written…” and when anyone says that in Scripture I always search for where it was written. Here I find the call to be holy uttered by God to the Israelites “For I am Yahweh your God … be holy because I am holy” in Leviticus 11:44 and in 19:2 and 20:7.
Can we ever hope to truly be holy?
I would pray that as we walk in obedience we would get closer and closer to His ideal. While I used to dread that sick feeling when I realized I’d sinned, now I almost welcome it … not the sick feeling (!) … the identification of committed sin. We can make ourselves more open to the Holy Spirit’s promptings to point out our sins and then confess and repent from those sins. I’ve found that it actually becomes easier and easier and at times, I’m almost glad when the Holy Spirit pulls me up short on something. I want to become holy like Him. In my heart of hearts, I want to please my Father.
I like the way Kay Arthur puts it:
“We don’t have to yield to sin; we can be separate from it – holy. It happens moment by moment, opportunity by opportunity, with a decision to walk in obedience to God in the power of the Spirit. The Spirit dwelling within you gives you the power to resist sin.”
The Bible Study also lists some practical steps to getting your holy on:
- Watch the company you keep. People can have more impact on you than you’d expect, so seek out godly friends. You’ve probably heard Proverbs 27:17 “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” For me it’s my bunch of Outrageously Christ-Filled Girlfriends and the ladies I lead with in BSF – good friends encouraging one another to grow in wisdom and godliness – even if it requires painful criticism.
- Keep yourself sexually pure. This probably requires its own blog post, but in short, participating in sexual immorality will have the devil salivating at your door as you become one with the world and not living as one set apart for our Father.
- You perfect holiness by living under control of the Spirit. I’ll ask again … can we hope to be holy on this ball called Earth? We can if we follow God’s call to walk by the Spirit. As Paul stresses in Galatians 5:16 “I say then, walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.”
- Holiness is perfected by love. Perfect for a time such as this in our country – straight from 1 Thessalonians 3:12 (emphasis mine) “And may the Lord cause you to increase and overflow with love for one another and for everyone, just as we also do for you.” Later on in verse 13 Paul states that in loving others God will make your heart blameless in holiness. If we will look at one another through the eyes of Jesus, I guarantee that our hearts will be broken again and again with love for people we never thought we could love. It completely changes the way you view the world … at least it has for me.
As you think about becoming more holy this weekend, let God know that you want to be holy as He is holy. Ask Him to show you anything in your life that mars His image in you. Then remember that it’s love for one another that demonstrates His holiness and manifests the reality of God within us. As we abound in love, we live out holiness. Pick someone to love on this coming week … someone who needs it. Let them experience God’s love through you.
And have a fantastic weekend!