For it is written: “Be holy, for I am holy.”
1 Peter 1:16
Often we’re taught we should ‘be holy’.
God is holy, so we should be holy.
But this is impossible. No one can be as holy as God.
That was The Law.
So, what does ‘holy’ mean?
We are sometimes taught that the Hebrew word for holy – quadosh – means ‘set apart’.
But set apart from what ?
The Bible Hub website says ‘holy’ means to be set apart from human impurity.
Set apart from sin.
But who sets us apart?
Check this out in Hebrews:
We have been made holy by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, once for all.
– Hebrews 10:10
It is Christ who has made us holy. Christ who has set us apart from sin.
So, what does Peter mean by “Be Holy for I am Holy.”
Is it possible for us to ‘be holy’ by demand ?
If not, why demand it of us?
Isn’t he quoting a law that was impossible to keep?
And wasn’t The Law only given to show us how much we need Christ?
Here’s something we don’t hear in church often:
Be Holy for I am Holy is NOT a command – it’s a promise!
Check out this translation from the Greek:
Holy you will be, for Holy I am.
Holy you will be, for holy I am.
That’s completely different from “Be Holy, for I am Holy.”
It’s not a command, but a promise!
And we are children of promise!
Here’s something interesting. Remember when God said to Moses:
Go and tell the Israelites I AM has sent me to you.
Remember this verse? When Moses asks God His name and God replies: “I am who I am.”
Well, the Greek translation of God’s name I am is
Now, check this out: when Jesus says his seven I am statements:
I am the bread of life.
I am The Good Shepherd.
I am the Gate for the sheep.
I am the Light of the World.
I am The Way the Truth and the Life.
I am the True Vine
I am the Resurrection and The Life
– his words I am are translated in the Greek as ego eimi.
The name of God!
‘I AM has sent me to you.’
Like when Jesus says:
Before Abraham was, I am.
– John 8:58
The Hebrew words are –
Ehyeh asher ehyeh
– which literally translates as:
I Will Be Who I Will Be.
And just as
I am who I am
can be translated
I will be who I will be
Be holy as I am holy
can be translated as
Holy you will be because holy I am.
So you see God isn’t commanding us to be holy.
He is telling us we will be holy because He is.
And God doesn’t mean we will be holy at some random point in the future.
The tense of the verb gives a sense of now and forever.
We are holy now and we will forever be holy.
Our holiness is ongoing – now and forever.
Paul also teaches us that –
Christ Jesus is…our righteousness, holiness and redemption.
– 1 Cor 1:30
So, to sum up, Hebrews teaches us that Christ has made us holy.
Peter teaches us that we will forever be holy because God is.
And Paul teaches us that Christ is our holiness.
Being holy has nothing to do with our own effort to overcome sin.
We have been made holy by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ once for all.
– Hebrews 10:10
Christ did it all.
It is finished!
So what does Peter mean when he tells us:
Just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do.
1 Peter 1:15
Peter’s reminding us to behave in a way that reflects who we already are.
Just as Paul said:
Let us live up to what we have already attained.
– Philippians 3:16
Christ made us holy by His sacrifice.
Christ redeemed us.
Christ paid the price.
Christ took our punishment.
Christ served our sentence.
Christ did everything for us.
“Worthy is the Lamb. Not worthy is the Lamb and me!”
(Thanks Joseph Prince for that one!)
To conclude, then, it is Christ who has made us holy.
Holy you will be for holy I am.
We could never be as holy as God so He made us holy.
What a God!
This is the amazing wonder of grace.
So, finally, Peter isn’t commanding us to be holy.
We have already attained holiness in Christ.
Check out this verse from Paul:
But The God of peace shall make all of you perfectly holy.
– 1 Thessalonians 5:23
Who makes us holy?
Because He loves us.
He loved us in the past.
He loves us now.
And He will always love us… continuous, ongoing, now and forever.
God is Love
Be Holy, Hyper Grace Style – His Grace is Enough – Simon Yap
If We’re Holy, Why Does God Call Us To Be Holy? Escape to Reality – Paul Ellis
What Does God Mean When He Asks Us To Be Holy? Christianity Today – Joel Scandrett