In First Peter 1:13-16 we read this passage of instruction from the Apostle Peter to Christians:
“Therefore girding up the loins of your mind, being sober, perfectly hope for the grace being brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ, as obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance, but according to the Holy One who has called you, you also become holy in all conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy.'”
Each time I have read it and hear it preached, the words “Be Holy as I am Holy” make me think and they last long in my memory. They pang my conscience. Even so, until yesterday, they have received no answer from me, other than an inner acknowledgement of my sinful and sinning state as the idea of being as holy as God, is just plain ridiculous. Basically, therefore, the words totally overwhelmed me as I had no framework with which to grasp them and make them personal.
This changed yesterday, when as a result of Bible study, the meaning of “holy” came back to me in terms of this particular verse. I immediately got up and check it out: What does “holy” mean?
Among other things, Webster’s say Holy is “Hallowed; consecrated or set apart to a sacred use, or to the service or worship of God; a sense frequent in Scripture; as the holy Sabbath; holy oil; holy vessels; a holy nation; the holy temple; a holy priesthood….”
In my study I had been reading that the word “holy,” essentially means “set apart.” God is Holy and is set apart, not only from us, but from everything else in creation.
Then the Lord brought me to Romans 12:2,
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, in order to prove by you what is that good and pleasing and perfect will of God.”
Being ‘set apart’ is akin to ‘do not be conformed.’ Thus I believe this passage it can equally be understood as “be holy….. be transformed…”
I discovered there are many similar verses in the Bible which carry the same message of being holy, of being set apart, of not being conformed to the world but aligned with God for His use and His purposes.
Jesus speaks of His followers walking in the light and no in darkness like the word:
John 8:12 “Then Jesus spoke again to them, saying, ‘I am the Light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.'”
Jesus speaks about His followers being in the world, but not of the world – of them being set apart:
John 15:19 “If you were of the world, the world would love its own. But because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”
John 17:16 “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.”
Christians are not of the world so when we speak, we are not heard – we are set apart, as First John 4:5 says:
“They are of the world, therefore they speak of the world, and the world hears them.”
In these samples, we can see the inferences from Jesus that Christians are set apart from the world and are expected to be set apart from the world, for the world has nothing to offer them. Yes, Christians are to be set apart from the world and God is set apart from the world; we are to be more like Him.
(Now if you worry that seeking to be like God is the reason that Adam and Eve were banished from Eden, you need to understand that the reason they were banished was not that they sought to be like God, but that Adam and Eve in essence sought to be independent from God. There is a huge difference. You may like to read our article by David Leggat, President of Derek Prince Ministries entitled “Praying Against the Sin of Independence from God” on this.)
This simple understanding of “being holy” which the Lord gave me yesterday has certainly changed my views of reading the Bible and boosted my enthusiasm to lead a “holy life” – a life set apart for God. It is now possible to imagine a step which is within my capabilities to attempt and accomplish and which I can actually get my mind around conceptually. Shunning the ways of the world is a step I know I can make, and is a step in the right direction.