Have you ever read a verse jump out at you when you were reading the bible? Have you ever had a verse that slaps you around the face? 1 Peter 1:14-16 is like that for me.
It says: ‘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: ‘Be holy, because I am holy”.
In Hebrew, the word for holy is ‘Qadowsh’, and in the Greek it’s ‘Hagios’. Both of these words carried a tremendous amount of weight in biblical culture, but I think that meaning is largely lost in our culture.
As I have started to study the bible more, I have started to see that holiness is now my favourite thing about being a follower of Christ.
There are a couple of things that ‘holy’ can mean in the bible. One meaning is pure; clean, sinless, morally upright and perfect. Another meaning is to be set apart for God, to serve him; to be exclusively His. I find both to be very inspiring.
Holiness is the result of what Jesus did on the cross.
As we start to understand what it means to be ‘holy’, we need to be very careful that we don’t start thinking, ‘I need to make myself holy’.
We can’t do that.
It’s only the sacrifice of Jesus that can remove our sin and make us pure and clean before the Father (1 John 1:7-9). It’s important to know that have already been made holy.
‘If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.’
– 1 John 1:6
Holiness is the choice to live a life with Christ as the centre-point.
Because of the empowerment of God’s Holy Spirit, we are invited to live lives that are set apart for His purposes — to be exclusively His. And this is where we choose to be holy.
This is where we choose to hold ourselves to a godly standard of living, rather than a worldly standard.
This is where we require a deliberate rejection of things that are ‘normal’ and take hold of things that are ‘different’. At times this is uncomfortable or inconvenient — but it leads us to really great rewards.
At times this is uncomfortable or inconvenient — but it leads us to really great rewards.
In Philippians 3:8-9, Paul acknowledges how many things he had to put aside to take a hold of Christ.
‘What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him.’
As I start to see more of who God is, I see just how sweet relationship with Him can be.
The reward of holiness is greater intimacy with the Father.
My desire to walk in God’s ways is not motivated by fear of punishment but by the joy that comes with getting to know Him better. By living according to His standards, I find that I am drawn into a deeper sense of intimacy and closeness with Him.
I’ve found that the closer I get to God, the closer I want to be with Him.
After all, God is love (1 John 4:8), God is light (1 John 1:5) and God is life (John 14:6). I have found that the closer I get to Him, the better life becomes.
Now, I’m not saying that I get it right all the time. I still make mistakes, but the way I respond to God in those times is so important. If I continue to live a life that is falling short of (or ignoring) God’s standards, I will tend to run away from Him (John 3:20-21).
But by walking in humility and transparency when I fall short of His standard I no longer have any fear of being exposed, I no longer have any fear of being punished.
I no longer have any fear of being exposed.
I no longer have any fear of being punished.
Guilt and shame are broken in the light of transparency, which will cause me to run TO Him instead of away FROM Him.
When I run to Him I find forgiveness, comfort and mercy; and my soul can find rest in His embrace.
There is no greater feeling than hearing God say, ‘I see you, I know you, and I love you’.
My ongoing desire to live in holiness means it’s become easier and easier for me to hear and believe the Lord when He says that to me.
Some questions to consider:
- What does it mean to me that God is Holy?
- What does it mean to me that God is calling me to a holy lifestyle?
- Is there anything God is asking me to leave behind in order to allow him to take the central point of my life?
- What am I going to do about that?