â€œTherefore, prepare your minds for action; be self controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: â€˜be holy as I am holy.â€™â€ –1 Peter 1:13-16
Itâ€™s a powerful peice of Scripture, packed full of direction for our lives, whether we are brand new Christians, or verterans of the faith. It is a passage of Scripture that hits hard when you really consider what it asks of you and I, young men and women who have decided that we want to become â€œholy as [He] is holy.â€ It is not easy to be holy â€œin allâ€ that we do. No matter how hard we try, we either slip into one category – we fall way short of holiness, or we go too far into the realm of legalism – and once again are being unholy in the sight of God.
The question is, how are we to be holy as God is holy?
When we take a look at this particular passage of Scripture, and work to understand how to be holy, we must look at the very first word in this paragraph â€œtherefore.â€ â€œThereforeâ€ directs the reader to the â€œforeâ€ or what came before this passage of Scripture. So what do we find there? We find Peter speaking of the â€œliving hopeâ€ from Christâ€™s death and ressurection (v. 3). He is speaking of how great and marvelous is this inheritance that we have recieved (v. 4) – and inheritance that gives us faith, and that faith brings us to rejoice even through sufferings (v. 6). These sufferings will prove our faith â€œgunuineâ€ (v.7). This faith also leads us to love a Savior whom we have never seen, yet will see someday when he returns. (v. 8) And to make things even more amazing, this wonderful story of salvation was told to the prophets who foretold the coming of Christ. The passage concludes right before the â€œthereforeâ€ that â€œeven the angels long to look into these things.â€ (v. 12)
So, because of this marvelous grace shown on sinners, we are to â€œprepare [our] minds for action.â€ What does this mean? It simply means that we are to be prepared for the second coming of Christ when our sanctification is to be completed. So does that mean that we are not completely holy right now? Not in the least! We, as Christians, are still living in the â€œold manâ€ or the â€œold creature.â€ Though it has been put to death, we still fight a battle against our sin nature. The process of sanctification, or perfect Christlikeness, is ongoing, and will not be complete in this life. But it will be completed when Christ returns. It is the inheritance spoken about in verse four. For now, we must rely on God, throwing all of ourselves at His feet and allowing Him to transform our lives. Of course, that does not mean we do nothing in our pursuit of holiness.
We are to prepare our minds, be self-controlled, and we are to set our â€œhope fully on the grace to be givenâ€ to us â€œwhen Jesus Christ is revealed.â€ (v. 13) Then, as â€œobedient childrenâ€ of God, we are first of all â€œno longer to conform to the evil desiresâ€ that we previously had when we â€œlived in ignorance.â€ We are to put off those evil desires, because they have already been defeated. Peter continues from telling us what not to do to telling us what we are to do. We are to be â€œjust as he who called you,â€ holy.
God alone is holy. There is none like him in all the universe. No one can claim that they are perfect and without blemish. God can say he is perfect and holy, but a human being cannot. All we have to do is look around at the world and quickly see that we are not holy. Our nation, our generation, and our family is not holy. But, as Christians, we are to be putting on the qualities that mark Jesus Christ. And only by His spirit can we do that.
These qualities can be found throughout Scripture, but one of the best places to find them is in Galations 5. In this passage we find Paul speaking about many of the same things that Peter has just mentioned.
â€œSo I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflinct with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.â€
Do you see it again? The sinful desires? The living by the Spirit, who is part of the trinitiy, and is God – so therefore is holy. So, we are to live in holiness, and not in sin. When we are led by the Spirit, we no longer are condemned by the law as we were before we were saved, but are now growing in holiness.
After Paul tells us to live by the Spirit and not to gratify our sinful nature, he tells us what a sinful nature looks like. Again, what not do, and then what we are to do or be like. What we are to be like is outlined in the â€œfruit of the Spirit.â€ This fruit is â€œlove, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.â€
Paul continues to clarify by saying:
â€œAgainst such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.â€
In other words, we have put off, or literally â€œstripped offâ€ the old man, crucified it, and with it goes the condemning nature of the law of God. Now we belong to Jesus Christ and are characterized by love, by joy, by peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. All of these are wonderful character traits that show us whether or not we truly are saved and are living a regenerate lifestyle.
Due to this regneration, or this new life in Christ, we are to be living holy lives. In Colossians 3, Paul outlines for us very clearly the rules for living in holiness are regenerated beleivers.
We are to set our â€œhearts of things aboveâ€ and to set our â€œminds on things above, not on earthly things.â€ We are to be what many call â€œkingdom mindedâ€ or â€œheavenly minded.â€ When our minds are on what is to come, on heaven and on Christ, we begin to live in obedience, knowing that Christ may come back at any time.
Paul continues in this chapter with many others rules. We are to: â€œPut to death sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.â€ Why is this? â€œBecause of these, the wrath of God is coming.â€ Godâ€™s holiness and wrath is going to be shown, and without repentance, we will surely recieve he judgement. None of us are without excuse — we know what God expects of us, yet as we all know, no one is perfect and holy. Therefore we all deserve eternal punishment. Yet Christ has saved those who have repented and put their trust in him.
And now, as regenerate believers we must ride ourselves of â€œanger, rage, malice, clander, and filthy language.â€ These are things we used to do in the past. Again, we are to â€œhave taken offâ€ our old selvesâ€with its practicesâ€ and â€œhave put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its creator.â€ Sanctification.
So, we understand what we not supposed to do. Yet that is not the end. Thankfully Paul does not conclude there. He continues to show us what we are to be doing.
â€œTherefore, as Godâ€™s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humilty, gentleness, and patientce. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grivences you may have against another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtures put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.â€
Thatâ€™s a lot to do! We are to show compassion to other, we are to be kind, we must be humble, we must be gentle, and we must show patience — all extremely hard things to do in our age of speed and the â€œme-firstâ€ attitude. Itâ€™s completely revolutionary. Completely opposite of what is expected. We are to forgive those who have wronged us, not seeking revenge. We do this because Christ forgave us. And above all, we must love! Itâ€™s so hard to love someone who treats you like a no-one, as â€œdirt,â€ as a simple-minded kid. Itâ€™s hard to forgive insults and put-downs. Itâ€™s hard to show compassion to our enemies, people we are to hate. It’s hard to love a brother, or to speak kindly to everyone you come in contact with. But the Bible commands it, because Christ showed it all to the vilest of people — you and I.