In 1 Peter 1:16, it says, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” This command from God – to be holy as I am holy – is no small thing.
We are called to be like God himself.
To pursue holiness with all our hearts.
To run hard after God.
To put to death the deeds of the flesh and put on righteousness.
If you’re like me, you may find this command a bit intimidating. God is infinitely holy and righteous. He burns bright with purity. There is none like him, no one as holy as him, none as glorious.
He hates sin and loves righteousness.
As it says in Psalm 1:5 regarding the wicked, “Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous…”
In other words, when the Lord comes to judge the earth, the wicked will not stand. They will be cast out. Because they are not holy, the will not be able to stand before the Lord.
This raises a critical question: how do we be holy as God is holy?
I want to pursue holiness. I want to be holy and righteous. I want to obey the command to “Be holy as I am holy.” I know you do.
So how do be holy like the Lord?
Here are four critical ways.
1. Be Holy As I Am Holy…By Trusting In Jesus Alone
It’s absolutely critical that we get started on the right foot when it comes to obeying the command to be holy as I am holy.
If we get this first part wrong, we’ll get everything else wrong as well.
The first step in being holy as the Lord is holy is to set our hope on Jesus Christ alone and the righteousness he provides for us.
In 1 Peter 1:13, Peter says, “…set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.“
Before Peter commands us to be holy, he reminds us to set our hope fully on Jesus Christ and the grace that will be brought to us when Christ returns.
In other words, when it comes to being holy, the first and most important step is to trust in the righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ by faith.
In Christ, we are already holy. We are so closely united to Jesus that God sees us as clothed in the righteousness of Christ.
Here’s the profound truth that we need to remember: we can never truly be holy or righteous apart from Christ.
It is only by his righteousness that we can approach the throne of grace. It is only because Christ lived a sinless life in our place and died the death that we deserved that we can have fellowship with God.
It works like this…
We are already objectively righteous in Jesus Christ. Nothing can change that.
However, we’re called to work out what God has already worked in us. In other words, God has already made us holy in Christ and we’re called to live out that holiness.
As the Lord says, “Be holy as I am holy.”
If you’re not confident that you are righteous in Christ, you’ll never be able to effectively pursue holiness.
Jerry Bridges puts it like this: “We obey God’s Law, not to be loved but because we are loved in Christ.”
Our obedience to God – our holiness – flows out of the fact that we’re already holy in Christ. We pursue subjective holiness, knowing that in Jesus we’re already objectively holy.
So how do we obey the command, “Be holy as I am holy,”?
By trusting in Jesus alone for our righteousness.
2. Contemplate The Holiness Of God
The next step toward being holy as God is holy is to contemplate, consider, and meditate upon the glorious holiness of God.
Notice that the command says, “Be holy, AS I AM holy.” Other translations use the word “for” instead of “am”. They render the verse, “Be holy, FOR I am holy.”
However it’s translated, the meaning is the same. We are to be holy BECAUSE God himself is holy.
In other words, the burning bright holiness of God should compel us to pursue holiness with all our hearts.
If we want to be holy, we must regularly consider and contemplate the holiness of God. We must remember that God hates sin and loves righteousness. We must meditate upon the beautiful sinlessness of God.
The more we think upon the holiness of God and all his many glories, the more beautiful it will appear to us and the more holy we’ll want to be.
Philippians 4:8 puts it this way:
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
There is nothing more honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, or worthy of praise than the holiness of God. And the more we “think about these things” – the more we savor the holiness of God, the more we’ll desire to be holy.
How do we, “Be holy as I am holy,”? By regularly meditating on, delighting in, and thinking deeply about the glorious holiness of God.
3. Remember That We Are Children of God
In 1 Peter 1:14, Peter says, “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance…”
Notice that he calls us to obey as obedient children. In other words, our obedience is to flow out of the fact that in Christ we have a new identity. We are no longer enemies of God. Rather, we are beloved children of our heavenly Father.
Our new identity should shape our pursuit of holiness. We obey not to earn God’s favor but because we are his children. We love our Father and because we love him, we want to obey him.
In John 14:15, Jesus said to his disciples, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.“
We love God and obey his commandments because we have been adopted as children of God. God is our Abba Father and he delights in our obedience. Put simply, we love God and he loves us, and we obey God and our obedience delights him.
I have three children whom I love with all my heart. Because they are my children, I want them to obey me. They don’t become more or less my children by their obedience. But their obedience brings me joy and strengthens our relationship.
This is an example of the relationship between our adoption as children and our obedience to God.
We should seek to obey him with all our hearts because he loves us as his children.
So how do we obey the command to, “Be holy as I am holy,”? By regularly remembering that we are adopted, beloved children of God.
4. Be Holy As I Am Holy…By Putting Sin To Death
There comes a point in our pursuit of holiness when we simply must put our sin to death. Yes, we must embrace the righteousness of Christ, meditate upon the holiness of God, and remember that we are children of God. Those are the first steps.
But in addition to all these things, we must actively seek to kill sin.
Peter puts it bluntly when he says, “…you also be holy in all your conduct.”
There’s no beating around the bush on that one. We are to be holy in all our conduct. To put off the desires of the flesh and walk by the Spirit.
To flee from anger and impatience and lust and greed and all the other sins of the flesh and to run after righteousness.
As it says in Colossians 3:5:
Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming.
If we want to obey the command to, “Be holy as I am holy,” then we must put to death the things that are “earthly” in us and must live as citizens of heaven.
We are called to walk by the Spirit, and as we walk by the Spirit we will put off sinful desires and deeds.
So how do we obey the exhortation to, “Be holy as I am holy,”? By putting to death the deeds of the flesh.
Run Hard After God
Holiness is a beautiful thing. God is the most glorious, beautiful being in the universe and he is infinitely holy.
When we pursue holiness, we become more “beautiful” in God’s eyes. This doesn’t mean that he loves us more. It simply means that God delights to see us become more like him.
So run hard after God. Pursue him with all your might. Pursue the beauty of holiness.