Called to be Holy. But How?
The Bible tells us that, as God’s people, we are called to be holy. We are reminded of this calling in 1 Peter 1:13-25. Verses 15-16 say, “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.’”
To be holy means to view yourself as set apart for the glory of God with a consequent commitment to obey God’s commands. Living this way will involve our behavior – verse 15 says, “be holy in all you do.” It will also involve our thoughts and attitudes – verse 13 reminds us to have “minds that are alert and fully sober.” Holiness has a reactive side to it – we are to resist “evil desires” (v. 14). It also has a proactive side – we are to love others “deeply, from the heart” (v. 22). In short, as followers of his Son, God calls us to be obedient in our conduct, pure in our thoughts, and loving in our relationships with others. This is what it means to be holy.
But how can we live this way? In these verses, Peter describes three spiritual realities, true of all Christians, that can empower us to live holy lives that glorify God. In Christ, we have: 1) a new family, 2) a new future, and 3) a new freedom.
1) We have a new family.
Counselors tell us that, whether we realize it or not, much of who we are is shaped by our families of origin. The fears that grip us, the behaviors that control us, the ways we respond to stress and failure are deeply influenced by how we were raised.
What is encouraging is to know that now, in Christ, we are members of a new family. Verse 23 informs us that we have been born again. Verse 17 invites us to call God our Father. Verse 14 urges us to relate to God not as subservient slaves but as “obedient children.” We are no longer condemned to follow “the empty way of life handed down to [us] from [our] ancestors” (v. 18). We are members of a new family now – God’s family.
Much of how God trains us in holiness is by inviting us to live and grow in our new family. It is in the context of relationships with other believers that we learn to love and to receive love, to forgive and to seek forgiveness, to serve and to allow the service of others to strengthen our lives. It is also in the community of faith that we hear “the living and enduring word of God” proclaimed to us by others (v. 23). Though silence and solitude are important spiritual disciplines, it is virtually impossible to grow in holiness if we isolate ourselves from others. Are you allowing your new family to strengthen your connection with God?
2) We have a new future.
One’s experience of any journey will be impacted by the destination to which they are headed. As a second grader, my morning bus rides to school were usually bleak and somber occasions. My weekly trips to my favorite cousin’s home, however, were filled with laughter and joy. What made the difference? The quality of the vehicle? The skill of the driver? No. What changed everything was my knowledge of where we were headed.
The Apostle Peter reminds us, in these verses, of where we are headed as Christians. In verse 13, he writes, “Set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.” Our Savior is coming back for us. He will take us to our Father’s home. When Jesus appears, we will receive blessings of grace more precious than anything we can now imagine. This world is not our final home. In fact, verse 17 reminds us to “live out [our] time as foreigners here.” We are not permanent residents here. We are merely passing through.
Knowing the glory that awaits us in the future can empower us to live boldly for God’s glory right now. Such knowledge can inspire us to endure hardship with patience and to shun the distracting temptations of this world. What can you do to remind yourself of “the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed”? Do not forget where we are going. Our future is bright!
3) We have a new freedom.
Verse 18 tells us that we have been “redeemed.” This word translates a Greek term that meant to deliver someone from slavery through the payment of a ransom. What was the price paid to set us free? Verse 19 provides the answer – “the precious blood of Christ.”
Jesus Christ died on the cross in our place. Because he did this, we are no longer slaves to sin and death. We are free now! Free to live for the glory of God.
Sometimes, after a prolonged struggle with life-controlling habits, people can start to feel as if they have no choice but to give in to destructive desires. Though this feeling may be powerful, for the believer in Christ, it is not a reflection of truth. The truth is that, through the ransom paid by Jesus, we are now set free. Temptation may still dog our heels, but the reality is that we are no longer condemned to fall. We have power now, through the Holy Spirit, to live in ways that please our heavenly Father. Are you inviting the Holy Spirit to empower you to live in your new freedom?