Summary: God calls us to be holy as He is holy. But how can I do that? There's no way I can even begin to become like God.
OPEN: A woman was preparing to cash her husband’s paycheck when she realized her husband, hadn't signed it. So, she sent 4-year-old daughter upstairs to "get Daddy's name on the back of it." Her daughter came back downstairs and proudly handed the check back to her mom, and said, "I knew his name, so I did it myself."
On the back of the check, the little girl had printed, “D-A-D.” (Sheila Schultz, Wilmore, Kentucky, ChristianityToday.com 1/20/09)
The New Testament would often speak of God as our “Heavenly Father.” When Jesus taught His disciples how to pray, His prayer started with these words: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.” Matthew 6:9
And when Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount He taught his followers that “the Gentiles seek after (earthly) things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.” Matthew 6:32
And Paul wrote: “because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Galatians 4:6
Over and over again the New Testament speaks of God as being OUR FATHER. So when we get to I Peter --- God speaks to us - AS His children - “You shall be holy, for I am holy” I Peter 1:16
Jesus said something similar in Matthew 5:48 “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (See Footnote at end of sermon)
(PAUSE) Yeah right… like that’s going to happen. Yeah, I’m going to holy and perfect like God? I don’t think so!
But God seems to think that you and I can at least TRY to be like Him. I mean it’s not like you or I could ever HOPE to attain the status of being like God, but it should be our target to head in that direction.
ILLUS: When I was a boy, I idolized my dad. He was strong, self-assured, smart. I picked up my sense of humor and my trait of telling stories from him. I wanted to grow up to be just like my dad… but I was NEVER going to get that done. Dad was an athletic man who would often tell me how good he’d been at baseball and basketball when he was younger. In fact, he had once even been considered by Purdue University for a basketball scholarship. By contrast, on my best days, I struggled in little league and I was absolutely hopeless on the basketball floor. I was NOT athletic by any stretch of the imagination.
But my target was to be like my father. I tried to model myself after him. And in a way, I kind of succeeded because that was my goal.
Well that’s what the Bible is saying to us about becoming LIKE our heavenly Father. We should make it our goal/target to be like our heavenly Father. Or another way of saying it – “Grow Up To Be Like Your Father.”
So, here in I Peter we’re being told to be HOLY like my Father is HOLY. Grow up to be holy like your Father is holy. BUT how, do I do that? How could I be holy like God is?
Remember, to be Holy means to be “set apart.” It means to be different than I was when I didn’t belong to God.
Ephesians talks about this. Paul was writing to Gentiles who’d left paganism and had become Christians: “you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But THAT IS NOT the way you learned Christ!” Ephesians 4:17-20
So, they were called to be HOLY so that they would “no longer walk like the Gentiles.”
How were they to do that? Paul wrote “… PUT OFF your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to PUT ON the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:22-24
ILLUS: Have you ever worked out in the garden? You get all dirty, sweaty and grimy. In a couple hours you want to go out to dinner with friends. What do you need to do to get ready for that? Well, you need to TAKE OFF your dirty clothes and take a shower. Now - you’ve stepped out of the shower - are you ready to go?
Of course not! You need to put some clothes on. If you went out to eat right then, you’d be naked. They arrest people for things like that! It’s not enough to TAKE OFF the old clothes and clean yourself up, you have to PUT ON new clothes in their place. In the same way, it’s not enough for a Christian to STOP sinning we need to START doing something else. Take off the sin… put on holy living.