There are a few words in the Christian vocabulary that can feel a bit overwhelming: one of those words being holy. In 1 Peter 1:13-16, we are instructed “to be holy as God is holy.”
If you feel that being holy is too lofty of a goal to achieve, I hope to demystify this matter for you as you strive to grow in faith. Historically holiness has been used as a rod of judgment to condemn others, but that’s not holiness.
Holiness is defined as “to be set apart, separate, different, or dedicated.” Many feel that holiness has something to do with being perfect, but it has nothing to do with perfection but everything about being different.
To be set apart requires intentionality. We won’t live holy by accident.
The command “be holy” was first given to the Israelites in Leviticus 19:2. Israel was surrounded by various nations who worshiped many gods and were given to indulging their sinful desires, not resisting them.
So, Peter shares four ways to help us “be holy as God is holy.”
#1 Prepare your minds for action. (v.13)
A literal translation of this Greek phrase is “gird up the loins of your mind.” Men at this time wore long robe-like garments. If they needed to run or move quickly, they pulled up their robe and tucked it into their belt to tighten up their loose-flowing garments.
When you pair this phrase with “mind,” it infers we tighten up our thoughts. Our thoughts can make or break us. That’s why we MUST take every thought captive.
The word “mind” in this verse means more than intellect but includes attitudes and motives.How is your attitude? Has your attitude had too much free reign? When was the last time you took inventory of your motives?
#2 Be sober-minded (v.13)
The word sober-minded comes from the Greek word “nepho” and means to be watchful and circumspect. Circumspect means to consider or factor into our decisions the effects or consequences of our actions.
This heightens the importance of being in full control of oneself. As Christians, we are not to be under the control or influence of anything or anyone other than the Holy Spirit and the Word of God.
To sober up starts with repenting and being a hearer and doer of the Word.
#3 Set your hope in Jesus’ return (v.13)
Having the wrong mindset can preoccupy us with life on earth so much that we lose sight of the glorious inheritance of Heaven!
Heaven will be far greater than earth because it’s where Jesus is, it’s without sin, and we will never be separated from loved ones again.
#4 Do not be conformed to your former passions. (v.14)
Our former passions, rooted in self-indulgence, are what caused the brokenness and pain in our life that led us to Jesus.
Yet being different and set apart does not mean that everything from our past nor everything we see unbelievers do we are to do the opposite. This is an oversimplification of the matter.
Let me suggest three approaches to guide your decision-making in processing such choices.
#1 Just do it.
Did you know that non-believers celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, and Labor Day? There’s nothing wrong with celebrating these events simply because unbelievers do.
Life and marriage are gifts from God and should be honored and celebrated. If Labor Day offends you, consider the words of Paul to the Thessalonians.
“If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.” 2 Thessalonians 3:10
When deciding on participating in something that clearly violates God’s instructions, we have no choice but to reject it.
It is not uncommon for events or laws to be created in direct opposition to Christians. We read about this happening to Daniel and his three friends.
Rejecting something doesn’t mean you have to bash and insult unbelievers who do.
In the book of Daniel, we read about a law passed that demanded everyone to worship the statue of the King, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did not bow.
They did not scream or yell at those who were bowing. They simply did not participate.
We should be ready to explain, with grace and love, why you are not participating, but not scream at unbelievers for doing what unbelievers do.
We can redeem some things in life by adding a godly or spiritual purpose to them.
One example is Halloween, which can be a very dark celebration.
For several decades, Christians and churches have chosen to turn that day into a positive celebration by hosting fall festivals or harvest parties. By changing the focus on what we are celebrating, we redeem what was meant for evil and turn it into something good. God is a redeemer! So if we can redeem an activity, we bring Him glory.
The bottom line on holiness is we are called to live differently.
We can facilitate being holy by preparing our minds for action, being sober-minded, looking forward to Jesus’ return, and not conforming to how we lived before Christ.