As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 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 Pet 1:14-16
Thus far Peter has emphasized endurance and the testing and purification of our faith for the sake of the hope that lies ahead. Not hope in earthy things but our blessed hope. Titus 2:13.
Now Peter is emphasizing the call to holiness hágios – sacred, pure, morally blameless, consecrated…in the New Testament. The Hebrew word in the Old Testament is qodesh to be set apart. The image is to “To cut” as one might cut a vegetable to separate the good parts from the bad.
We speak a lot about the love, power, and presence of God within the charismatic stream. The idea of holiness often gets sidelined. His Holiness is often only mentioned in the context of worship.
Generally, Bible scholars refer to the number of times a word or idea occurs as a measure of thematic emphasis or importance to the author. Obviously, Love is important in the kingdom of God. “Love” in all its degrees and forms is mentioned 506 times in the Bible.
Holiness is mentioned in 595 times.
That said, I have a hypothesis. Love, power, and His presence are all associated with a deep emotional experience. Granted these individual experiences vary and I am not implying that they are purely emotional. Even so, charismatics tend to validate God’s presence according to what they feel.
That feeling is always pleasurable.
Am I wrong?
Holiness on the other hand requires that I look at myself in the reflection of His Holiness. This isn’t as pleasurable provided we are being honest.
That’s because holiness involves conviction and repentance.
Problems arise when we pervert conviction into guilt shame and condemnation. While conviction tells us a course correction is required, guilt shame and condemnation are identity statements. Conviction identifies what needs to be cut.
A mature believer can look at themselves in the mirror of God’s Holiness and say,
“I’m not all that I should be. But thank you Lord that I’m not what I used to be. I am a work in progress”
Mature believers understand that His righteousness is our righteousness because of who He is. We came to Jesus as dead people, by nature appointed to wrath. He loved us in spite of us not because of us. Eph 2:1-5
He loved us because of who He is.
Christianity is not a self-help program for those suffering from low self self-esteem. Christianity is a His help program for those suffering from sin, and an obsession with self.
If we understand holiness in the context of “be holy, for I am holy” then we know that only He can make us holy. It is Jesus that cuts and consecrates. It is Jesus who sanctifies and separates dross from the gold, false faith from genuine faith. It is Jesus who purifies us with fiery trials until all the impurities are burned off and He beholds His pure reflection in us. We offer ourselves as living sacrifices and then let Him have at us. We choose His ways instead of the world’s ways and allow Him to transform us Rom 12:1-2 by the washing of the water of the word. Eph 5:26-27
Sometimes this hurts.
As for understanding the seriousness and intensity of consecration (the process of becoming holy) we may be better served by studying Leviticus 8 and applying these principles to ourselves in the context of Rom 12:1-2 Sometimes our sermons sound like self-promotion. At the end of the day Jesus gave us one instruction regarding self;
Deny it. Mat 16:24
Deny- aparnéomai utterly, disown, abstain, to affirm that one has no acquaintance or connection with someone, to forget one’s self, lose sight of one’s self and one’s own interests.
If that disturbs you, it’s because you have a wrong perspective. I promise you that aparnéomai is the paradoxical path to genuine faith. It will reveal your true identity because it destroys the self-centered feelings of worthlessness, and condemnation that so many are struggling to avoid. In its wake, it leaves freedom, peace, and genuine biblical Hope.