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.” (1 Peter 1:15-16)
Beloved, in many ways, the whole Bible is a call to holiness. We’re called first and foremost, as I said in earlier posts, to be holy because our God – our heavenly Father – is holy. And as I’ve been saying, he wants us to look like him and bear witness to him. Here Peter is drawing from a good number of verses throughout Leviticus in particular.
So what does “holy” mean? Well, to start with, it means “separate.” Just as God is separate from sin and devoted to all that is good, just, and righteous, so must we. We’re called out of the world and called unto God.
Wayne Grudem put it this way…
To be holy ‘as God is holy’ includes a full and pervading holiness that reaches to every aspect of our personalities. It involves not only avoiding outward sin but also maintaining an instinctive delight in God and his holiness as an undercurrent of heart and mind throughout the day.
Does that describe you? Do you seek to be holy as God is holy in every sphere of your life? Do you do your best to avoid sin? Do you delight in God and his holiness? Does that describe the “undercurrent of your heart and mind throughout the day?” Does that describe you? That’s a tall order to be sure, but it’s our call.
If it does describe you, even in bits and pieces, you’ll begin to look different because you’ll be different from the world. And that’s key… because holy also means “different.”
Back in early February I preached on the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is God’s rule and reign in our hearts, minds, and lives.. as well as the rest of his creation. And I mentioned then, that’s what the Sermon on the Mount is all about. It’s a manifesto of the Kingdom. It’s a description of God’s counter-culture.
Follow the teachings of Jesus, (which means the whole Bible), and you’ll look different. You’ll speak differently. You’ll act differently than the world. That’s the one word that could sum up the Sermon on the Mount: “Different.” John Stott said that…
Jesus emphasized that his true followers, the citizens of God’s kingdom, were to be entirely different from others. They were not to take their cue from the people around them, but from him, and so prove to be genuine children of their heavenly Father.
Does that sound exactly like what Peter’s saying in our Scripture this morning or what?
And so: Who do you resemble more: the world… or your heavenly Father? I know that’s a loaded question. I know the answer is also hard to nail down because we have good and not-so-good days. But it’s a question that Jesus would ask. It’s a question that the Apostles Paul and Peter would ask. And it’s certainly a question that our own John Wesley would ask. In fact, he asked that sort of question all the time.
Stay tuned for the conclusion to the series next time.
Grace and Truth,