… but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:15-16 ESV
Definition of holy*
1: exalted or worthy of complete devotion as one perfect in goodness and righteousness
2: divine <for the Lord our God is holy — Psalms 99:9(Authorized Version)>
3: devoted entirely to the deity or the work of the deity <a holy temple> <holy prophets>
4a : having a divine quality <holy love>
In my own life, I know I struggle with this passage. First, I have to ask myself, what, exactly, does it mean to live a holy life? The definition above certainly provides a starting point. However, what does it mean in context of living in today’s world? How can our lives shine with a divine quality that marks us as God’s people?
For many, the idea of living a holy life draws up images of the monk who separates himself from the world by living in a monastery. He dresses differently and follows a strict discipline each day, clearly separating him from the rest of the world. For others, it conjures up images of Mother Teresa, who spent her days helping others ceaselessly. While living a holy life may look like this, we put the cart before the horse when we simply look at what a person does. After all, Jesus talks about those who do good deeds (in public), yet will receive no reward, as their heart is in the wrong place.
First, we must understand that we cannot simply decide to be Holy. Romans 3.10 states, ““None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” The journey to Holy living starts by going to God. Only He can wash away our sins.
Many people understand this process as being born again, or justification, where the righteousness of Jesus is reckoned onto the sinner. However, this is only the beginning. Once born again, we also receive the Holy Spirit, which leads us through sanctification, or the process of becoming more Holy. When we open our hearts to God’s Holy Spirit, and put down all we have before Him, He sets us apart for His work and begins to conform us to the image of Christ. Matt Slick from CARM notes, “Sanctification is not instantaneous because it is not the work of God alone. The justified person is actively involved in submitting to God’s will, resisting sin, seeking holiness, and working to be more godly (Gal. 5:22-23). Significantly, sanctification has no bearing on justification. That is, even if we don’t live a perfect life, we are still justified.”**
Whereas justification is a free gift requiring no effort on our part, sanctification requires a continual submission to the will of God. We see that even in Jesus life. He continuously submitted himself to the Father, praying often. In the Garden of Olives, seen in Luke 22:39-46, a part of Jesus clearly did not want to partake of the cup of wrath. Yet, he submitted himself to the Father, indicated by the closing of his prayer where He stated, “Let not my will but Your will be done.”
One of my favorite verses is Joshua 24.15 which reads, “And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Many people feel that they only need make this decision once, and live the rest of their lives the way they want. Jesus warns bout such false conversions. The heart of a true Christian longs for holiness, and that involves following after God… turning from sin and seeking after Him, each and every day.
And, if we seek after Him, He will answer and help us through His Spirit. Jesus says in Luke 11.9, “And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” So, let us seek after Him, together, and live Holy lives that please our Creator!
*Definition provided by http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/holy
** Article referenced may be found at https://carm.org/justification-and-sanctification