Summary: What is the one thing that makes us holy before God. There's lots of things holy people do and don't do... but there's one thing that we MUST do. Do you know what that is?
OPEN: A new preacher had just come to town and was visiting one of the Nursing Homes in the area. Thinking to introduce himself to one of the church members who lived there he leaned over her and gently asked “Do you know who I am?” She smiled sweetly and replied: “No, but if you go the front desk, they should be able to tell you.”
Do you know who you are? Peter says, IF you know who you are you WILL be holy. “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.’” I Peter 1:15-16
We are called to be a holy people - set apart from the world around us. When people see us they should automatically think to themselves – that’s a child of God! Because, if we do it right, we look like Him, and we’ll look like Him because we’ll try to be holy like He is holy.
Now, what does that mean? What does it mean to be holy? Well, a lot of people think you can tell which people are holy because of the rules they follow. HOLY people are the ones who are always praying; they’re the ones who are always reading their Bibles; they’re the ones who don’t cuss, and swear and get mad all the time; they don’t get drunk or do drugs; they’re the ones who won’t go into bars, and strip clubs, and R-rated films. And you could go on, and on, and on about what holy people should do and not do.
Now is that true? Should holy people pray and read their Bible? Of course they should. Should holy people not cuss, or get drunk or go to R-rated films. Of course they shouldn’t. That’s what Holy People should be like!! In fact, Peter tells Christians (all of whom came out of a pagan lifestyle) “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance.” 1 Peter 1:14
In other words: stay away from the bad stuff. And apparently you all know what the bad stuff is because Peter doesn’t dwell on the bad stuff right here. He doesn’t go over a list of dos and don’ts that mark someone as holy.
ILLUS: There’s a group of churches called the “Holiness Movement” that thinks you do need a list of dos and don’ts. They’ve been around for about 2 centuries and they believe, by their definition, if you’re going to be holy, you’re not allowed to play cards, attend movies, wear shorts or jeans, to to public swimming pools, go dancing. And holy people – who go to church – should dress in only certain ways: women have to wear dresses/skirts, and men have to wear suits.
But Peter doesn’t see the need to do that kind of a list here. He doesn’t make a list of what you should and shouldn’t do. And he doesn’t need to…we all know what things would bring us shame and guilt. That’s the bad stuff of the past.
ILLUS: Now, by contrast Bill Maher (who’s is a supposed “comedian” and not a fan of Christianity) once said that "We wouldn't even know what sin was if it wasn't for the bible." Now… Maher meant it as an insult. He was basically saying that “sin” was something the Bible made up. It’s NOT a real thing. If it weren’t for the Bible, people could live their lives as they wanted without “religious” interference.
But, Peter’s telling his readers: YOU KNOW what sin is. You used to wallow in it when you were pagans, and you know better than to go back to that lifestyle. You may have been “ignorant” back then… but not now. Don’t go there, don’t do that! Now that you’re called to be Holy, don’t go back to the passions of the past.
(PAUSE) But what I found interesting (here in 1st Peter) was that, not only does Peter not dwell on “Bad Stuff,” he tells us that our rejection of the evil bad stuff makes it so that we could do the holy GOOD STUFF.
What’s that GOOD STUFF??? “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth (in other words - you’ve purified yourself from bad stuff) for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart.” 1 Peter 1:22
You see, the reason you got rid of all the bad stuff was so you could do the good stuff. And that good stuff is this: Dedicate yourself to a sincere brotherly love, and love one another earnestly from a pure heart.
That’s What Holy People Do!
Now, any religious person can make a list and follow the rules. The Pharisees did that. In fact, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said “I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:20