Tuesday, August 23, 2022
1 Peter 1:14-16 “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.”
The concept of holiness sometimes scares me. The call of Scripture to match the holiness of God is frightening, because I am so incapable of doing it. But the fear I feel is not from God. It is an attack of the enemy of my soul. And the reason why Satan has been able to bring such fear against me is because I have looked at holiness from the wrong perspective.
For most of us, the word holy is synonymous with sinless. Yet sinlessness is not the definition of holy. God is not holy because He is sinless; He is sinless because He is holy. Freedom from sin is a product of holiness, not the cause. My fear of the call to holiness is because I have been convinced that it is a call to sinlessness. That’s when Satan gets to pile the guilt and shame on me, because I know my sin. His definition of holiness has kept us in bondage and kept us from being holy.
Of course, the more I understand what holiness is, the more I will find victory over sin. But in this life, I will never attain perfection. Yet I can be holy. The key is to understand how God is holy and how He calls me to be holy.
The word holy simply means to separate and carries with it a sense of such perfection of separation that it produces incomprehensible awe. In the context of that definition, God is holy for several reasons:
- He is separate from creation. He is the Creator and sustainer of all that exists. He is not dependent upon anything outside of Himself for His existence or sustenance.
- He is separate from corruption. He has the knowledge of sin, as do we, yet the perfection of His separation from it means there has never been an experience of it.
- He is separate in His character. This is the key for me to understanding how I am to pursue holiness. God’s character is separate from mine. The various aspects of His character can never be categorized. Every aspect of His nature and character are absolutely inseparable. It is the inseparableness of His character that makes Him holy and thus separates Him from us.
My nature and character are divisible. I can in one instance be set apart for God’s purpose, and in the next be pursuing my own interests and desires. God cannot. He is eternally constant. He never wavers. He never ceases to perfectly express His glory. Every thought and action of God is done as an expression of the totality of His nature in perfect integrity. He is without contradiction. His characteristics are never in conflict with one another.
My goal then in pursuing holiness is to become more separated for His purpose and more consistent in living it. The pursuit of holiness is the pursuit of integrity. The call to being holy as God is holy is a call to eliminating the contradictions and conflicts that exist in our character.
Jim Elliot, the martyred missionary to the Aucan Indians in Ecuador, said it this way: “Oh, to be holy! Just to sense for a moment that I have somehow, however small, simulated some measure of Thy character, Lord Jesus.” The simulation of God’s character is to become consistent. It is to become set apart for God’s purpose alone and live that purpose constantly.
When we begin to see holiness as being set apart for God with integrity of character, instead of as sinlessness, we will see it from the positive rather than the negative perspective. Seeking to become sinless is scary because it’s impossible in this life. But striving for consistency of character is stimulating, because it satisfies every longing of our hearts, the primary one being to have integrity of identity. Our identity is inconsistent because in sin it seeks to please self. When we pursue true holiness, the integrity of our identity is restored because it is found in Christ, and thus reflects the character of God.
I pray that the Holy Spirit – called Holy because He is perfectly set apart to fulfill the will of the Father consistently and completely – will increase our understanding of this great truth. We are called to be holy as He is holy. We are called to be separated unto Him and to live consistently for Him. When we pursue that call, we will be holy in all that we do, because we will be doing all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and for His glory, not ours.