“He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’” 1 Peter 1:15-16
We serve a holy God.
In his first epistle, Peter quotes from the Old Testament book of Leviticus (11:44), where repeatedly Moses writes about the holy, separated, and consecrated nature of the Lord our God (Leviticus 11:44, 19:2, 20:7, 20:26, 21:8). The Lord tells Moses that because He is holy, the people of Israel – His people – must also be holy. Holiness is similar to consecration, which means to set something apart for a sacred purpose. Something that is holy is separated from sinful and evil things, and unstained by them.
The Lord God is holy in all His ways. He is seated upon His throne in heaven, in perfection and power (Isaiah 6). Because of His holiness, all sinful humanity is separated from God, and under condemnation because of our rebellion against His will. But by grace and according to His mercy, God sent His only Son, Jesus, to bear the punishment for our sins. By faith in Jesus Christ, the free pardon of guilt is open to all who believe. We are not saved by works, but by the grace of God alone.
However, once we are forgiven for our sins, we are called to follow in the ways of Jesus – to live for Him in a separated way motivated by our love for Jesus (1 John 5:3-5). This is the holiness of the Christian life. We must be holy because Jesus was holy. When we read of His life, it is clear that Jesus did not speak the same way as those around Him. Jesus treated all people with a respect and a love that was distinct. Jesus did not love or indulge in the corrupt pleasures of this world. Jesus was humble, not proud; patient, not angry; pure, not lustful; full of love, not selfishness. He was a peacemaker, not a gossip; He loved God His Father, not the passing things of this world.
Jesus lived a holy and separated life, but he did this while still living amidst the world. In John 17:15-17, Jesus prays for you and me, that God the Father would guard us against evil and set us apart (sanctify us) by His truth. It is God’s will that we remain a part of this corrupt world after putting our faith in Jesus Christ so that we might go and bear witness to others about who Jesus is. God would have us live morally pure lives in the midst of the world so that we might shine like light in darkness. We must live amongst the world, as Jesus did so that we can daily speak to and affect those around us with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
As we live for Jesus, we will daily fail and sin. Holiness will progressively increase as a work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, but we must pray for and strive after it. The Bible calls this sanctification – becoming progressively set apart over time. Daily sin does not destroy our relationship with God, but does break our fellowship with Him.
Keep short accounts with God this week. When conviction comes upon you, do not wait until the end of the day to confess your sins. Be immediate. Confess your sin to Jesus as soon as you know you have sinned. Jesus is faithful and just and will cleanse your heart of all shame and guilt (1 John 1:9).
“Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.” Proverbs 28:13
This week, let us strive by the strength and grace of our Savior Jesus Christ to be holy as He is holy.