Preparing for an upcoming women's Bible study, I was studying the passage of I Peter 1:13-21. The theme of the passage is holiness. It says,
"Therefore, 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 confrom 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: 'Be holy, because I am holy.' Since you call on a Father who judges each man's work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear. For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious bloodof Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who
raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in
Holiness. It is a word that seems anything but us. That is because, unfortunately, it is often the case. However, as this passage explains, we should strive to identify with and master the practice of holiness. We have God's example and Spirit to help us. Are we actively seeking such holiness in our lives?
First, we are told, in verse 13, to prepare our minds for action and to control ourselves. This is not an exercise in passivity. We must prepare ourselves by knowing God's will, rules and characteristics. Think of all the tests or sports for which you might have prepared yourself over the years. Hopefully, you did not spend 5 minutes reviewing notes or running laps and think, "I hope I can pray tonight that God will help me in this area and I will succeed tremendously tomorrow." More than likely, you spent hours studying, days training, or even years preparing yourself for an ultimate goal. Not that God can't do it alone, but He asks that we seek Him and run the race in perserverance. Are we putting that kind of effort into attaining holiness?
This sounds hard. It is. It is work, but our hope in our salvation and grace before God's throne should give us joy, motivation and endurance in the midst of the training. Plus, when we are obediently pursuing righteousness, God is there providing the correct heart, motivation and strength. The fact our sin is nailed to the cross, paid in full by Christ, and we are a new creation in Him should give us the realization that He will not abandon us in the pursuit of holiness.
God tells us we can't expect to be holy if we conform to the world. (verse 14) This is such a convicting statement for all of us. We might pride ourselves on not partying, swearing, stretching our credit cards, or cheating on our taxes, but how much of a stranger are you in society? Do you know what characters are on that television show you shouldn't be watching? Do you read gossip magazines or watch media shows on television that might qualify as gossip? What line do you draw when going to or renting a movie? The line should be pure holiness.
You might say, "I can't ever see a movie then! Hollywood doesn't make movies that are holy!" Well, there might be a very, very select few, but, perhaps this means we shouldn't be joining in this practice if we can't be holy in doing it. Believe me, this is a scary thought for me. I love to be a chair potato and watch movies to relax. However, holiness is not about comfort. It is all about sacrificing the pleasures of this world and wanting to please the Father we adore and love.
The verses tell us to fear God. (verse 17) We need to realize that holiness is a command, not a polite, passive request. We also need to recognize God's qualities. Think of the strongest, most mighty thing you can imagine--a gigantic mountain in the Sierras, the roaring ocean, a thunder and lightning storm, a howling hurricane, a screaming tornado, a hissing, spitting volcano of lava and ash, an angry earthquake, a scorching sun, the chasms of the Grand Canyon, or a vast, unexplorable universe. These are God's creation. Think of who He must be in order to speak and create such wonders. We don't fear God enough because we don't take the time to understand His capabilities, His characteristics and qualities. This affects our obedience and urgency when we error in our understanding of who God really is.
What will you do to pursue holiness today? You recognize, if you are a Christian, that Christ painfully poured out His life and rose again, in order that you and I might be reconciled to our mighty Creator. (verses 18-19) Our humble thankfulness and love should spur immediate action. Make a plan with specific details. Cut out that television show, throw away the magazine with gossip that enslaves you, change the conversation when a friend starts disparaging another friend, tell a friend to hold you accountable to not practicing a particular bad habit, and PRAY FOR GOD'S HELP in revealing sin and giving you motivation and strength to change the error into holy behavior.
Be holy because He is holy. He is our precious, all-powerful, loving, righteous, merciful, gracious, perfect, all-knowing, all-present, eternal, unchanging, and HOLY God. Be holy because He asks you to be. That is motivation enough. In the light of the cross and what He paid for us, the motivation is MORE than enough.