Do you know what it means to be holy? The apostle Peter wrote, “…like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior…” (1 Peter 1:14-16)
I believe in order to understand what Peter is saying, we need to first really understand what holiness is. And for me, the best way to understand holiness is by comparison. So, if you will bear with me a moment, let me try to explain something that has helped me understand the concept of holiness.
First of all, I can best understand holiness in contrast to sin. We understand sin quite readily, because we have known it intimately. We are born into this life with a sinful nature and there is not one of us who has not experienced sin or the result of sin in our lives. But God is by nature holy and without sin. In fact, holiness can be described in one sense as the opposite of sin, or better yet, as the lack of sin. Holiness is wholly contrary to our inborn sinful nature, and if it were not for the work of Jesus Christ on the cross, I wonder whether we would even be able to imagine a life of sinless holiness, much less have any hope of experiencing it.
Although we might describe holiness as the opposite of sin, or the lack of sin, I believe it is more accurate (or at least more useful) to describe sin as the lack of holiness. Let me explain by use of another comparison.
The apostle John writes, “God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). Light and darkness are opposites, but they are very different in one crucial point. Light exists. It can be measured. It has distinct characteristics such as wavelength (color) and intensity. Light also has distinct, measurable effects on the objects around it. On the other hand, darkness does not exist. Darkness is merely the absence of light. You cannot make a change from darkness to light by removing the darkness. Instead you must bring in the light!
Similarly, you cannot simply remove sin. You must bring in holiness! Just as darkness is found where there is no light, sin is found where there is no holiness. If you are struggling with sin in your life, stop spending all your time and energy trying to remove the sin! As Paul says, just lay it aside and focus instead on bringing holiness into your life:
…in reference to your former manner of life, …lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, …be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. Eph. 4:22-24
Just as light has measurable effects on the objects around it, holiness will have noticeable effects on your life. You will “be renewed in the spirit of your mind,” which simply means you will begin to think differently, and as you think differently, your behavior will change.
So, now do you know what it means to be holy? Remember what Peter wrote?
“…like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior…” (1 Peter 1:14-16)
Did you notice that Peter does not say to practice holy behavior, but to be holy yourself, like the Holy One who called you in your behavior. In other words, your behavior will flow out of your being.
So, now we come to the heart of the matter. How can I become holy? Simply step into the light of God’s holiness and let it shine on you!
…if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. 1John 1:7
In the Greek, the verb to walk is in the present active subjunctive form, meaning that it is a continuous repeated action subject to the condition of whether we choose to continue it. The verb to cleanse is in the present active indicative form indicating an action that is occurring while we speak. In other words, according to the Greek, the entire time that you are continuing to walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, Jesus is at the same time, moment by moment, cleansing you from all sin. Jesus makes us holy as we walk in obedient fellowship with Him. That is why John said,
If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth… 1John 1:6
Saturate yourself in the Word. Listen for what God is speaking to you about and respond with obedience. Speak with Him through prayer as you go through your day. Day by day, hour by hour, walk with Him in the Light, and like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior.