But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.”1 Peter 1:15-16 NLT
I read this familiar verse this morning and paused to meditate on it. I usually jump to the end where God’s Word states, “be holy because I am holy.” However, the first thing that struck me today was that this is a command, not some ethereal statement. The apostle Peter, by the Holy Spirit, wrote to tell us, “you must be holy in everything you do.” That’s a command.
What does “holy” mean? The Hebrew word for holy is “kodesh,” which comes from the root word “Kadash.” It means to be set apart for a specific purposei. For us to be “holy,” God’s will is for us to be set apart for a specific purpose, just as God, Himself, is set apart for a particular purpose. Our purpose comes from His purpose.
Our Holiness is a Command from God
As Christians, this passage of Scripture is not an item on a buffet; it’s not something we can take or pass by. Yet, few commands from God are more intimidating. In the two verses before this command, we gain an understanding of how we should prepare for such a demanding command.
“So prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control. Put all your hope in the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world. So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then.“1 Peter 1:13-14
We Must Prepare to be Holy
For us to be holy, we must first prepare our minds. Our world is flooded with corrosive ideas, images, and intellectual fraud. We have no hope for holiness unless we get that stuff out of our thinking and exercise self-control. Christianity is a full-contact sport. If we stay on the bench, we will allow the world back into our thoughts. Only by actively living for Jesus can we build a wall to keep the world from entering our thoughts and actions.
To live for Jesus means that we recognize the world offers a pretty facade behind which is death itself. What we must do is embrace deferred gratification. A savings account is deferred gratification, earning a college degree is deferred gratification, and avoiding sex before marriage is deferred gratification.
To obey God’s command to be holy, we must embrace deferred gratification. We must release the treasures that the world offer and trust Jesus to provide better treasures1 and the salvation of our souls when He is revealed to the world.
The Process for Holiness
If we follow the process that Peter tells us. If we prepare our minds for action, exercise self-control, and trust Jesus by laying up our treasures in heaven instead of grasping things that have no eternal value, then we will be prepared to be holy, to be set apart for a purpose.
We know, from the Old Testament, that Jeremiah2 and Sampson3 were “set apart for a purpose,” and in the opening pages of the New Testament, we find that John the Baptist4 was set apart for a purpose. Also, we find that each of the children of God is set apart for a purpose5.
But how can we be holy? Why should we care?
Holiness is a component of God’s nature. He is God, and there are none like Him6. Since He is unique, He is, therefore, “set apart.” When we are reborn, God the Holy Spirit comes into us7 to be with us forever8. Before salvation, we were dead in our trespasses and sin9. The Holy Spirit provides the spiritual DNA that we never possessed before. We become alive. Just like the dry bones that sprang to life in the Old Testament10.
As we prepare our minds, exercise our self-control, and exchange our worldly desires for treasures laid up for us in heaven, we come into alignment with God’s will. God is like a spiritual chiropractor, adjusting our thoughts, actions, and desires11 so we align with His “set apart” purpose for us.
Only when our being is properly aligned can we begin our journey to holiness. But why should we care? I can give you two reasons, though I’m sure there are many more.
First, to accomplish the work God places in our hands to do, we need God. He never gives us anything that we can achieve ourselves. If we could do it ourselves, then He would be sharing His glory with us; He doesn’t do that. Secondly, if we desire to lay up treasures in heaven (deferred gratification), we need to be useful to God; that means we need Him “to set us apart for a specific purpose.” He did that before Creation, but we can’t enter that purpose until we can receive God’s call upon our lives12.
Yes, We Can
If we circle to the start of this post, we find God’s command, “be holy because I am holy.” Without the context surrounding this verse, it seems unreasonable and impossible. But as we have seen, we can be holy (set apart for a purpose) if we are willing to make the changes in our lives that prepare the Holy Spirit to align us to enter into the purpose God envisioned for us before He created the world.
“Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.”2 Corinthians 7:1
Let’s not allow this truth to roll off us like water on a duck’s back. I’m convinced that one of the questions Jesus will ask many of us when we stand before Him is, “Why weren’t you holy?”
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i: Hebrew Meaning of Holy – Set Apart For A Purpose — FIRM Israel. Firmisrael. Hebrew Meaning of Holy
1: Matthew 6:19-20
2: Jeremiah 1:4-5
3: Judges 13:5
4: Luke 1:13-17
5: Ephesians 2:10
6: Jeremiah 10:6
7: Ephesians 1:13
8: John 14:16
9: Ephesians 2:1
10: Ezekiel 37:1-10
11: Romans 12:2
12: 2 Timothy 2:21