Summary: Five helpful steps in the pursuit of holiness.
Holiness is a term that isn’t used much anymore. Some people are afraid of it because it sounds too...well, too, holy!
In principle, holiness is what all of us expect when we turn on the faucet, order a meal at a restaurant, or take off muddy shoes when we come into the house. We expect our water, our food, and our homes to be kept clean for our use and health.
This was the principle in view when, in the 1860’s, Russian scientists recommended moving the water supply pipes of St. Petersburg. Untreated sewage flowed into the Neva River a few hundred yards upstream from the intake pipes for the city’s drinking water.
In 1992, 130 years later, environmentalists visiting the city of 5 million people were shocked to find that the situation had not changed. Residents routinely continued to boil the brownish-yellow water that came from their taps. Many strained their water through cheesecloth before drinking it. Unboiled, the water contained toxic bacteria that caused diarrhea, stomach cramps, and nausea.
Holiness is like clean water that has been set aside for our use.
At its most basic level, “holy” refers to the condition of being set apart, separated from others, different. It is a word whose highest meaning is found in referring to God, and to objects and people that God has set apart for His own use and service.
The term “saint” sounds different, but it comes from the same root as “holy.” In biblical terms, a saint is a person whom God has set apart for Himself. Saints are not just honored people of the past. They include real-life, down-to-earth, common people who have been set apart as the Lord’s own special possession, and as receivers of His special favor. All who know Christ as Savior are called saints because God has called them His people, His spiritual children—distinct from nonbelievers.
Holiness is what God wants and expects from us. Holiness is a reflection of God’s character, and He wants His children to look like Him.
STEP ONE: Turn away from the sins of your past (1:13-14).
A. “Gird up the loins of your mind”
The phrase “gird up” is a metaphor referring to the ancient Oriental custom of tying one’s loose flowing robes into his belt in the process of getting ready for hard work.
Today we would say, “let’s roll up our sleeves and get right to work on the business of holiness.”
Peter was saying, “prepare your minds for action.”
Hebrews 12:1—“. . . let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, [so easily hinders our progress] and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.”
Is there anything hanging around the edges of your life that could trip you up today?
B. “Be sober”
This means to exercise self control.
C. “Hope to the end”
What are we to hope for? The grace. Into this one word “grace” Peter has put all the glorious content of our salvation previously given in the first twelve verses.
STEP TWO: Look to God (1:15-17).
A. God shows us how sinful we really are.
See Isaiah 6:1-5.
When confronted with an infinitely holy God, Isaiah pronounced his own condemnation. He literally said, “I am speechless . . . I am dead!” He also recognized that he was unclean. After seeing how holy God really is, Isaiah was struck with his own sinfulness.
Peter had a similar experience with Jesus. When Peter recognized in Jesus the Creator of the fish of the sea, he fell at His feet and cried, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.”
If we had a baseball game out back with some of the youth in the community I might look like a great player compared to the others. But if I was to play with major league baseball players. I would look terrible next to them.
Sometimes we think we are pretty good, but if we could catch a glimpse of God’s holiness, I think our attitude would change.
B. God shows us what we should be like.
During the recent mission of the space shuttle Endeavour, the crew collected radar images of the earth that will be transformed into the most accurate maps ever made of our planet. The shuttle’s two large radar antennas had to be held perfectly still while the readings were taken—an amazing feat. The result will be precise, three-dimensional maps of the earth. God’s Word operates in much the same way in our lives. The Scripture provides us a precise, completely reliable “image” of what life is truly like from God’s perspective. The Word gives us the knowledge and guidance we need to map out our lives according to God’s will.
God is our standard. Of course, we all fall short of His standard (Romans 3:23).