This is my first time writing to you all. It is such a joy and an honor to be working with Grace-nation, this beautiful, God-led site. For my first topic, and hopefully not my last, I will be writing on holiness.
What is holiness? How does it come about? Can we, as humans, achieve it?
To start off, holiness is the concept of being set apart and being consecrated for the sake of the Lord. This idea of holiness is quite important and also quite unique, in the sense of how it works. As believers, we ought to strive for holiness, yes? We ought to declare ourselves apart from the world and wholly for God, as a part of our walk with Him, yes? This is something we can do, right? Well… sort of. But before we get into that, let’s take a look at the passage at hand, for today:
1 Peter 1:13-16 NASB
13 Therefore, 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. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, 15 but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; 16 because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
So, let’s look at what this passage has for us:
1. HOW we can prepare ourselves for holiness
2. WHAT we shouldn’t do, since we’ve been made holy
3. WHY we ought to be holy
4. HOW we are made holy
So first, how can we prepare ourselves for holiness? In the first portion of 1 Peter 1, which I have not shown above but highly suggest reading, Peter talks about the glories that come from being a true Child of God, the priceless inheritance, the wonderful joys, the trials which prove us, the love for and from Jesus, and the assurance we have. Because of these things that we have gotten or been made able to give, Peter exhorts us to do the following: “… Bind up the loins of your mind, being sober-minded and fully expectant of the grace that is to be brought to you…” (1 Peter 1:13 Personal Translation). These three things may seem rather easy to do, but they are so consequential in our walk and for our journey into holiness.
Bind up the loins of your mind
This phrase might seem a little odd to you, it did to me at first. The action of “binding up the loins” is in reference to the large robes/tunic that would have been worn during that time period. When an individual was getting ready for intensive labor, he would “bind up the loins” of his tunic, pulling them up tightly, so that they would not get in the way of the work. The Message version portrays this phrase like this: “So roll up your sleeves, put your mind in gear.” I feel that this version really shows what Peter is getting at, he is telling us to be mentally ready for whatever comes our way, ready to act and react to any situation in a way that will bring God the most glory.
Keep sober in spirit
The English Standard Version (ESV) translates “sober in spirit” as “sober-minded”. I think that the combination of these two translations really shows the point of this command. While the phrase might seem to be referring to not becoming intoxicated, it was more allegorical than literal. That is to say, Peter was calling his audience to maintain self-control and to be aware. He is using the word picture of being drunk and not fully aware of what is going on with rest of the world to show how one who is not aware of doctrine, God’s movement, and the work of the Holy Spirit might be viewed. Being sober-minded, or sober in spirit, is a mindset that we must constantly and intentionally put on.
Fix your hope completely on the grace
Sometimes it is really easy to become ignorant of the Grace of God. Though we might be ‘aware’ of it, knowing in the back of our minds that we have been covered in grace, it might not often be on the forefronts of our mind. What Peter is getting at with this exhortation is that we ought to be fully conscious of this grace, fully expectant and fully hopeful for it. The knowledge that we have this grace on our lives should guide us in what we do! Of course, as Paul says, just because we have grace does not mean that we should sin more. Rather, since we have this grace we should be living with the hopes and joys that are brought with it! This reminder of grace isn’t so that we can live however we want, but rather a reminder that, if and when we mess up, our sins do not define us! God’s grace, brought by the sacrifice of Christ defines us!
So again, how can we prepare ourselves for holiness? By following these three exhortations in our lives we can begin preparing ourselves for the holiness that God brings upon us. By being ready for action with our bodies, minds, and spirits. By being intentionally aware of what God has for us and of the world around us and, in respects to this awareness, being self-controlled and ready for action. By being joyfully reminded of the grace which has been brought to us by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! These ways are what we can do as we receive the holiness God has in store for us.
Now that we know what we should do, let’s take a look at what we shouldn’t do. Before we came under the gracious wing of God we were sinners, yes? We were sinners, and we acted like sinners… We knew nothing else! Until God came into our lives and opened our eyes we probably had no idea just how great our sins were or how consequential they were.
As obedient children
This nifty little phrase packs a big punch, and I love it for that. Peter is telling us that we ought to act as obedient children. First off, who are we children to? Why we are children none other than God the Father! What more could possibly drive a child than to make his or her parents happy? Likewise, nothing should drive us more than to bring happiness and joy to our Heavenly Father, and we can do that by being obedient to His words and His commands.
Do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance
Now that we have received God and He has received us, and we are truly His children, we need to keep in mind that our past is behind us. The fact that Peter reminds us that our former sins were within ignorance is amazing. He shows, yet again, that our sins do not define us! Even though we were fully living within them, God has taken us out of this darkness and brought us into the light! Into His dear embrace! Since we have been brought out of darkness, it is important to not long for it, reach for it, or even act as when were once in it. This is what we should not do. Since we have been made holy, we must strive with all of our being to rely on God and His joys and His stabilities to sustain us, not on our former lusts and sins which we may perceive to have been fulfilling us and sustaining us.
It should be no surprise that God is holy. If we are to define the term ‘holy’ as being set apart and consecrated to God, then most obviously is God, along with everything He does, consecrated to Himself and set apart from things, unlike Himself. But what does this have to do with why we ought to be holy? Well, the answer is simple. God wants us to be holy so that we can be with Him. He is utterly perfect and wishes for us to be so as well so that we might be able to join Him in Heaven. Now, we can’t truly become perfect in this life. Our flesh, our humanness, makes this impossible. Only one person was able to do (spoilers… it was Jesus) he was only able to do due to the fact that He was also God. We aren’t God. But God does call us to be Holy.
Like the Holy One who called you
Like I said, it should be no surprise that God is Holy. But what does this mean, this idea that God is consecrated to Himself? It means simply this, God sees all of the wickedness, the temporary joys, the footfalls, the sin, and knows that it is not worth it. He sees these things but does not take part in them. He is aware but rejects. He knows that the way of righteousness, which has been pioneered and created by Him, is the only way for true love, true grace, true wisdom, and true life to abide. And guess what! He called you into His embrace! He chose you, and me, and all of our brothers and sisters in Christ! He reached down from Heaven, embraced us, and breathed this true life that He has right into us!
Be holy yourselves also in all your behavior
So God called us. What did He call us into, exactly? Into eternal life? Into ever-abounding grace? Into full and pervading love? Yes to all these things, but also into holiness. Now, we’ll see in the next verse exactly how this plays out, but first it is important to address that He did call us into holiness. It is absolutely His desire for us to be holy in all that we do! Every action, every reaction, every response to any situation, it is important to be reminded that we are supposed to constantly act as holy in what we do. By acting holy I mean that we are acting as though we were Jesus Himself acting. As cheesy as it is, What Would Jesus Do is a very pertinent question that a believer should meditate on very often. If we become aware of how Jesus would act in a situation we can become aware of how we ought to act in a situation, so that we might be holy in our behaviors and bring the utmost glory to God. There are a thousand other reasons why we should be holy, to show the Light of God to non-Christians, to remind our brothers and sisters of the Light we ought to live in, etc. but the most important and the most commanding is simply this: God is Holy, and because of this, when He calls you into His embrace, He calls you to become holy.
So how exactly do we become holy? Does this girding up the loins of our mind and being sober-minded do it? Does that reminder and expectation of Grace do it? Do my good works and good intentions do it? No, not really. Those things are a part of it, but they do not make you holy in and of themselves.
It is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
As we just touched on, we should be holy simply because God is holy and because He called us to be so as well. But the major implication of this verse comes from the phrase “You shall be holy.” Interestingly enough, this word from God is not in the imperative, to say that God commands holiness, but rather in the future middle indicative. The imperative mood of a verb would mean that God is commanding us to be holy, that we ought to, out of our own selves and our own works, be holy. But this is not the case. Rather it is in the future middle tense, which implies that this holiness will be done in the future, and the indicative simply means that it will be done. This implies that we shall not become holy out of our own will but through His works. Also, due to the middle tense of the term, which shows that an action will be done for the benefit of the one doing the action, it is implied that we will be holy also for our benefit, we will be made holy for a greater reason than simply because it happens.
In short, this passage’s message can be summed up by its final statement “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” The author of this particular book, Peter, makes evident the reasons why we ought to be holy as well as how we might go about doing so. One major aspect of this verse is that it is a call for action. While it is made clear in the final verses that God is the one who will makes us holy, Peter still calls for us to “prepare your minds for action,” to “keep sober in spirit,” and to “fix [our] hope completely on the grace.” The implication here is that, while God is the only being who can make us holy and sanctified, we must also make strides to do so; we must be willing and ready for God’s action. To put simply, holiness, as God calls His followers to have, is a two-way street.