Summary: In times like these, when so many avoid the path of righteousness, mature Christians accept the challenge of living for Jesus a life that is true by avoiding unholy ways and by adopting lifestyles consistent with holiness.
ON BEING IDENTIFIED AS A HOLY PERSON
Based on I Peter 2:1-12
We already know that God expects His people to be holy - to separate ourselves from a life of sin unto a life of Christian service.
Remember that many of the very first Christians came out of pagan backgrounds - idol worship - immoral lifestyles. Although none of us has ever been considered pagan, some of us might have come from unchristian backgrounds, or we might have grown up in a home that was not Christian.
Because of changes that occurred in the lives of first century Christians, many of them were looked upon by their acquaintances with suspicion; Peter says that some of them were like “strangers” to their own families and friends - “What has gotten into him or her?”
Folks did not understand where these “followers of The Way” were coming from; nor did they respect the new identity that was applied to those who were now called Christians.
So, the people who identified themselves with Jesus Christ were ridiculed; they were taunted; they were made fun of and laughed at. Have you ever been made fun of because of your Christian beliefs?
Peter wrote this letter to instruct all new believers on how to live in such a hostile environment. He reminded them, though, that if they would let go of their old ways in spite of the hostility, and hold on to their new life in Christ, it would be worth it all. Peter gave them three reasons why:
Jesus redeemed you with His own precious blood; God the Father rewards you with eternal life; You are recipients of the promise made to the prophets. As recipients of the promise, you are expected to be holy; and never forget that the highest expression of holiness is love. Here’s how to be holy:
AVOID A LIFESTYLE INCONSISTENT WITH HOLINESS . . . I Peter 2:1 . . .
“So” or “Wherefore” or “Therefore” – “based on the facts that I have just presented to you . . . there are certain important things that you must do; and if you do these things, your holiness will be evident to people around you, your love will be obvious. You must:
GET RID OF ALL MALICE . . . DECEIT . . . HYPOCRISY. . . ENVY . . . SLANDER. Just like you shed an old coat, or throw away a ragged garment, or stop wearing an out-of-date piece of clothing, you must lay aside (throw off; get rid of) any attitude of evil thinking toward one another – because if you think evil toward someone, it can only do harm; evil thoughts result in evil actions that are inconsistent with holiness.
ADOPT A LIFESTYLE CONSISTENT WITH HOLINESS . . . I Peter 1:2-3 . . .
The way to discover the happiness of holiness is to set your heart on growing spiritually by cultivating a desire for the unadulterated milk of the word of God.
The analogy here is obvious. Newborn babies literally crave pure milk that has not been watered down; babies crave milk that has had nothing mixed in with it; they want their nourishment to be the real thing.
In like manner, the newborn Christian would do well to cultivate a sincere desire to get all the nourishment that he or she possibly can from feeding on the word of God. This is the only way to grow spiritually.
Peter says that you have already gotten enough nourishment to know that God is good, the Lord is gracious. You have learned enough to whet your appetite.
Now it’s time for you to get down to business and really delve into the word so that you can learn all there is to learn from studying the scriptures.
Yet, we must never forget that reading and studying the word is only the prelude to living the word.
We will fall short of God’s standard of holiness if we read the word and then put it aside without putting it into practice.
The only chance we have of measuring up to God’s standard is to study the word and apply what we learn to our lives. The Psalmist gave us the secret of doing this: “Thy word I have hid in my heart that I might not sin against Thee, O God.”
Christians are told to adopt a lifestyle that is consistent with holiness.
ACCEPT YOUR ASSIGNMENT OF BEING HOLY PEOPLE . . . I Peter 1:4-10 . . .
Peter tells us that, as Christians, we need to understand that together we make up a people – in the sense that all believers belong to the Church of Christ. We are people of God . . . the family of God . . . Body of Christ . . . temple of God.