But 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."
A while back I wrote a post about the holiness of God and its importance. As we read our Bibles we are overwhelmed with the fact that God is holy! But then we come to 1 Peter 1:16,17 and we scratch our heads. At first glance the verse above is a bit problematic. We are to be holy just as God is holy? Really? God is holy in every word he speaks and every deed he does. He doesn’t simply act holy or speak holy, he is holiness and Revelation 15:4 tells us that only God is holy. But here Peter is saying that we are to be holy just like God. If we take a quick look at one hour of our day we can see that we are not like God, we are not holy.
And yet, there are two ways in which holiness marks the Christian.
First, and most importantly, God gives us the holiness of his Son, Jesus. The moment we believe in Jesus we are not only forgiven of all our sin, but we also receive the gift of his holiness so we are perfectly and eternally acceptable to God. (1 Cor. 1:30).
Second, there is also a practical holiness that marks the Christian. God is progressively changing us into the image of Jesus (sanctification). God has given us a new heart that desires to do what is right and to please our holy King. We not only desire to be like our God, but he works in us to become like him. While our holiness will never be perfect in this life, it can be a growing reality.
What does holiness look like in God’s people?
1. Holiness is being of one mind with God
Being of one mind with God means hating what He hates and loving what He loves, and measuring everything in this world by the standard of His Word. It is being able to say, “If God has said it in his word then I will believe it, I do not need him to explain himself to me.”
“He who most entirely agrees with God — he is the most holy man.” - J.C. Ryle
2. Holiness will kill sin and strive to keep God’s commandments.
There will be a strong desire to do God’s will. This is not a desire to earn favor with God. Instead the law becomes a beautiful way for us to show our love and gratitude for all that God has done and is doing in our lives.
He will say with Paul, "I delight in the law of God after the inward man" (Romans 7:22), and with David who said, "I esteem all Your precepts concerning all things to be right, and I hate every false way" (Psalm 119:128).
3. Holiness will strive to be like Jesus
To forgive others, even as Christ forgave us
To be unselfish, just as Christ put others before Himself;
To walk in love, as Christ loved us;
To be humble, even as Christ considered himself as nothing and humbled Himself.
To follow Christ's example in suffering by being meek and patient under undeserved insults.
4. Holiness will fear of God.
I do not mean the fear of punishment but a fear that bows the knee to a King who fills us with an awe and amazement so deep that we can do nothing better than worship him.
5. Holiness pursues faithfulness in all of its callings
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men. Col 3:23
Whether we are a spouse, parent, friend, child, grandparent, homemaker, boss, employee, or church member, we are called to be and do all for the glory of God.
“He will try, not merely to fill his place as well as others who take no thought for their souls — but even better, because he has higher motives and more help than they.” - J.C. Ryle
It is easy to talk about about holiness but when I look at my life I am tempted to become defeated and discouraged. I have had plenty of days where I have asked why bother? Haven’t you? I will fail anyway. I am a mess, not holy.
But take heart! You are holy in the sight of God because of Christ, and God is at work in you right now. Be patient because he has promised to finish the good work that he has begun in you.
“Perfect holiness is the aim of the saints on earth, and it is the reward of the saints in Heaven.”
Do you want to be holy? Then you must begin, continue, and end with Christ. He is the one who gives us strength, he is our example, our advocate, our physician and our perfecter of all that we do.
John 15:5 is a very important verse. I am sure you know it well.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (emphasis added)
Holiness is His special gift to His believing people. Holiness is the work He carries on in the hearts of his children by the Spirit whom He puts within them.
We are called to be Holy like our God. To be set apart, to be otherly in the way that we live and it is Christ who will accomplish this in us. Just keep your eyes on Jesus. The best way to do this is to keep his words before your face.
(If you want to read a brilliant and much more in depth work on this subject check out J.C. Ryle’s book called “Holiness”.)