Be holy: Devotional Commentary for January 12-19
This is the Word of God. May the Spirit of Truth give us Wisdom and Insight to receive what has been conveyed through His Word by His Inspiration.
13Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
14As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance,
15but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior;
16because it is written, "YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY."
In the last two meditations, we noted how Peter highly signified the unfathomable excellence of the redemption of God's children. He underscores that even though hardships and anguish are aspects of the Christian's experience, the life, service, and identity of the believer are not delineated by the sufferings and persecutions perpetrated against them by the hostile world. Therefore, reasons Peter, affix your hope on eternity with Christ and get ready to live and serve as the redeemed of God.
Accordingly, our regenerated spirit must be sober, calm, collected, and composed so that we are firmly rooted in the sure Hope we have in Christ for eternity, resting on the Grace of God which will be fully manifested when Jesus Christ returns. Likewise, our minds must be prepared and ready to respond to the real aspects of life with real living faith in real time in the real world. As followers of Christ, we should tightly guard our minds with God's revealed Truth so that we might live and serve in enduring stability, unshakable strength, and righteous sobriety. Being godly, clear, and ready, the mind of the Christian is equipped to effectively ward off the negative influences of the world, its falsehood, and discouraging hostilities.
Therefore, we reject ungodliness in all of its forms and ways because we are called to be holy even as God our Father is Holy. The call to holiness is a call to obedience, a call to live in obedience to our Father, God the Almighty. While sin is inherently wrong and, therefore, must be completely disavowed, the essential reason for rejecting sin and disobedience lies in the very Nature of God. God is Holy and Righteous. He abhors sin and disobedience. Therefore, as God's redeemed children inspired into a life of obedience by the indwelling Holy Spirit, we too disavow sin and resist its influences. We should not look back to the life of disobedience in which we once lived under the formidable influences of the old nature.
We must exercise caution lest we mistake the call to be holy as a command to take a self-sourced action to be holy. Once again, the call to holiness is a call to obedience. That is, the admonition to be holy is not so much the impossible action of making oneself holy, as it is our responsive obedience to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and surrender to God one's tendencies and inclinations. It is submitting oneself to the Power and the Authority of the Holy Spirit as He separates us from the world unto Himself, for Himself. We submit to the godly standards of holiness because the One calling us is Holy; and able, willing, and gracious to make us holy.
17If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth;
18knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers,
19but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.
The holiness of the believer is a natural corollary to God's revealed holiness in the changed heart of the redeemed. That is, even though holiness is not inherent to man—saved or not, it is a highly expectable fruit of the sacred relationship between the redeemed and the Holy Redeemer. Therefore, if the redeemed dare call the Holy God "Father", then the believer must be congenially disposed to the inlying work of the Holy Spirit as He echoes the call to be holy in each one's heart. If the believer claims God as Father, calls on Him in prayer, and identifies with Him as His child, then the behavior of the believer must be in tune with God's Nature and Attributes, not to guarantee wishes or wants but to be one with our Father even as the Son and the Father are one.
Peter reminds Christ's followers to always remember that our redemption was not accomplished by any thoughts or actions. Nor is it paid for with money, silver, or gold, or secured by religious tradition. The redemption of every believer was accomplished only by the Son of the living God, Jesus Christ, through His finished work on the Cross.
We neither acquired nor earned our salvation. It is the gift of God. Therefore, we abide in His way by God's Grace and His unfailing Providence. Our redemption is of God. So is our sustenance, preservation, and perseverance. We belong to Him. We conduct ourselves as the children of God, who is Holy, Righteous, and Just.
Peter continues to celebrate God's Great Salvation, the redemption of God's people. He issues a call to mental readiness and a meaningful action toward holy living. In its most fundamental essence, "holy" means: set apart, pure, unadulterated, not polluted, absolutely perfect and unmixed with anything, and unaffected by any extraneous matter or influence. Insurmountable as it might sound, holiness is the believer's exclusive response to God, the Holy God, the Righteous God.
How does the Christian become holy, one might ask? Through obedience to the call itself. The call to holiness is a call to obedience. The child of God can fully enjoy the sacred relationship with God our Father, only through a life that is totally surrendered to the Holy Spirit Who transforms our corrupt tendencies and inclinations to a godly disposition pleasing to our Father.
Many might consider Peter's admonitions impractical and unrealistic, especially in light of the commonly known difficulties in rejoicing in spite of sufferings and persecutions. The crux of Peter's exhortation is: for the believer to be sober in spirit, hopeful in heart, and ready in mind to fully engage in the Christian experience as the redeemed child of God who is also contrary to the ungodly ways of the world; not leaning on one's own understandings and wisdom. The Spirit of Truth is the only Source of wisdom for the New Man in Christ. What seems impossible to man is possible with god.
The ways and thoughts of our old nature have now been cast aside. That was how we once lived. But now, we are called to live as obedient children of God, free from bondage, and sufficiently courageous to overcome any ungodly influences imposed upon us by the hostile world. Yes, we might suffer for Christ's sake. But our deepest needs do often drive us to our deepest faith in our faithful Father, God the Almighty. Once driven to God and drawn by Him, He will cultivate His holiness in us because He has made us worthy in Jesus Christ.
Redeemed and made worthy by Christ, we resist sin, surpass trials and persecutions, and draw ever closer to God our Father; the Holy God, the Righteous God.
The Spirit says to us in His Holy Word:
"As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, 'YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.'"