“Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. Obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” (I Peter 1:13-16, NIV)
What is it to be holy?
If I listen to the context of this passage, it involves two things:
1. Being an obedient child
2. Not conforming my life to experience the evil things that are common to mankind and that were common in my life before I came to Jesus Christ.
God never told me to try to be holy, or work at being holy, or pray about being holy—-He said be holy.
So to be clear, God saved you and me not just to keep us out of hell, or so that we could have a super abundant life, or so that might live happily—-and those things will happen one day! But he saved us to… be… holy. Are you?
But holiness is not being innocent. Too late for that! We know sin—some of us know it quite well. We also know the evil and the pleasures that go along with sin. Holiness is not ignorance, or innocence, of right and wrong. It means that we know, quite soberly, the differentiation, and we’ve chose to be “set apart”, unrelated to those that sin, “peculiar”, if you will, in a spiritual sense, from the rest of humanity. It is a choice we make—i.e. to be holy—but it is the overcoming power of the Holy Spirit that does the transformation.
I am not invited to be holy, I am commanded by a holy God. Do I feel that I am not receiving the fullness of His presence, His blessings, His peace and His sense of security? Am I unable to hear His voice or see His hand upon my life and the lives of my children? If so, it’s because I am not being His obedient son! I am required, by my perfect Father, to be holy! If I ignore Him, I am in no place to whine about the frustrations and shortcomings I am seeing in my own life.
If I am ready to obey Him and be holy, I must first kill those desires that are impure. I have fought my whole life with desires that might be common to mankind, but are not holy and totally uncommon a holy life. Resisting the thoughts, and the places where those desires take on material form, helps, but I am not able to maintain the fight on my own. The enemy is too crafty, the temptations too easy to accept, and sometimes the company I keep makes it all the easier for me to succumb! To kill the desire, I need to hate it, and to hate it, I sorely need the mind of Christ—not the mind of Dean! And so I pray that He might teach me to love what He loves, hate what He hates, and to discern the difference. To be holy requires something I sorely lack—wisdom. But God promises to give me this if I merely ask! So what am I—and what are you—waiting for?
Next I have to humbly admit to Him that I was unable to be pure, let alone holy, without His helping hand..in short, I need to be re-wired….re-made. There are parts of me that don’t need just pruning or watering or fertilizer. No, there are parts of my mind that need to be uprooted. I have asked for spiritual round-up to be put in place of the evil desires that used to take root and flourish in my mind! It will be a fight my entire life!
And so the final step is to surrender. This requires the total acknowledgment that I want to be pure and holy, but I cannot win the race alone! I need the touch, power and overflowing baptism of the Holy Spirit to keep my thoughts and mind stayed on Him. I cannot do it with my own weak determination.
The ones inspired to write the books of the Bible understood that sublime peace, joy and utter fulfillment that come when we come into the presence of God and are able to yield to Him and praise Him. They knew what it was to be “holy” and be around the One that is Holy. Do we know the same joy? David said, “Better is one day in His courts than thousands elsewhere!” Do you know that joy of being in intimacy with your Creator?
I used to wonder how the 24 elders and angels falling down and praising God for all eternity, as referenced in Revelation, could be happy. Is that all they do?! Fall down and praise God? How can that be fulfilling and enriching? The typical Christian thinks of praising God as singing a couple of hymns and maybe throwing in the doxology. We might also listen to some music on “K-love” and get a taste of worship. But who would want to do that forever and ever??
Well, I would—and I did not always think this way. But now that I have experience the joy of praising Him, and have put aside childish notions, and the lies of the devil when he tells me how boring living a holy life would be, I look forward to an eternity with Him—praising Him and adoring Him. I realize that this is the reason for which I was created….my soul only finds perfect peace and purpose when I am worshipping Him. And no, I don’t think that in heaven we will be bowing down 24/7 saying, “holy, holy, holy”. Basking in His holy presence, doing holy adventures, is what we will doing there—and what we should be doing here. We need not dread it, like some folks do when they have to come to church on Sundays—it will be the center of our existence and a spring in our souls for exhilaration!
The enemy has confused us, and some preachers and priests who do not know the joy of the Lord have watered down true worship with so much monotony and un-singable hymns that we struggle to grasp what it is to worship and be holy. But when you find yourself truly worshipping Him, either with songs, words, or awe-inspired silence, you know that there’s nothing better or more consummating in life!
When G.K. Chesterton died in 1936, he was recognized as “a prophet in an age of false prophets”….“the most exuberant personality in English literature”….“a man of colossal genius,” and…. “a gifted defender of the Faith.” This was said by those that disagreed with him in life!
Although he is giant about Christian apologists, in life, he was morbidly obese, a wise-cracking, cigar-smoking witticist—completely contrary to traditional ideas about being holy and in love with Jesus.
But he was a holy man. No man could speak and write with the conviction he did and not be in the constant audience our holy heavenly Father and not be holy. He believed in a lifelong endeavor to heed Christ’s teaching: “Unless you be converted and become as little children, you shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.” Throughout his life, Chesterton’s faith retained a child-like quality. This is the starting point of a being a member of God’s Kingdom—come as a child, and in terms of relationship with God, maintain that child-like trust, anticipation, and happiness.
He had a remarkable ability to make friends with his intellectual opponents. No matter how heated his arguments became, he never lost sight of their common humanity; and proof of that is the emotional tributes his adversaries paid him upon his death. One of the kindest things I mentioned above came from an atheist!
Saint Peter, Chesterton, and other men and women like him, knew this: God is holy, and he wants us to be holy as well. But the starting point is the trust and humility of a child.
Again, to be holy is to be set apart spiritually for a good purpose. In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word “qodesh” means “holy.” In the New Testament, the Greek word “hagios” represents “holy.” The meanings of both “qodesh” and “hagios” are similar, with both words indicating separateness for the purpose of purity. Holy people, in the biblical sense, are those who are devoted to God. They make their relationships with God their top priority by living lives that are set apart from the secular and centered around what’s sacred.
God is holy. 1 Samuel 2:2 proclaims that God is ultimate holiness: “There is no one holy like the LORD; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God.” Isaiah 6:1-3 describes angels in heaven worshiping God for his holiness: “I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.’” Psalms 29:2 urges people to worship God for his holiness: “Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness.”
God demands of us , “Consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am the Lord your God. Keep my decrees and follow them. I am the Lord, who makes you holy.” (Leviticus 20:7-8) And again in Hebrews (12:10-11), 14,15) “…God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. … Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness, no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”
God is there to help us. The Holy Spirit can teach us. Jesus showed the way. But only you can take that step of choosing to be holy.
If you make that chose, one or two people in twelve might take notice and encourage, but most folks pay no attention….but He is noticing, encouraging and is proud of every baby step you take.