Thursday, 3 October 2019
…but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 1 Peter 1:15
Several scholars, and several translations, translate Peter’s words here as a title rather than a description. For example, the NASB translates this as –
“…but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior;”
What seems more likely is that Peter is reaching back to the heart of the book of Leviticus where, in Chapter 11, the Lord says this –
“For I am the Lord your God. You shall therefore consecrate yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy.” Leviticus 11:44
The Lord gave instructions to Israel concerning what He expected of them, and then He proclaimed the reason why He did so. It is because He is holy, and they had been called by Him to be His people. In His calling, He expected them to emulate Him. It is as if God is saying, “I am the Pattern which you should form yourselves after.”
It is to be noted that the Lord’s calling was to Israel alone in Leviticus. Here in 1 Peter, some could argue that Peter is addressing the Jews (which is correct) and, therefore, the calling that Peter is speaking about is one directed solely to the Jews. This is incorrect. Christ established the New Covenant in His blood. In this, He has called both Jew and Greek (meaning the Gentiles – see Romans 1:16; Romans 2:9, 10, Romans 10:12; Galatians 3:28; Colossians 3:11, and etc.).
The fact that the Jews (for the most part) did not accept the gospel does not negate that the call was made to them as well as to the Gentiles. Peter’s epistle is a call to the Jew, but specifically a call to the Jew of the end-times (as can be deduced by its placement after Paul’s Gentile-led church-age epistles). The Jews, after their rejection of Christ and extended time of punishment for this rejection, are being called to the one gospel which is found in Christ Jesus. That it is the same message to both Jew and Gentile is confirmed by Paul’s words of Ephesians 4 –
“But you have not so learned Christ, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4
Paul speaks of living according to the holiness of God, putting off the old man and being adorned in the new. This is the same calling as Peter now speaks of. And so, based on the unchanging nature of God, who is holy, Peter says, “you also be holy in all your conduct.”
The call is made, the individual responds to it, and the standard is expected. Peter ties the expected character of the one who has called on the Lord to emulate His character. Again, this is a principle that Paul speaks of in Philippians 1:27 –
“Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.”
A change in one’s life to that which is Christ-centered is expected of those who have, in fact, come to Christ.
The word used by Peter, and translated as “conduct,” is a favorite of his. It is used three times by Paul, once in Hebrews, and once by James. However, Peter uses it six times in this letter, and 2 times in his second letter. It is anastrophé, and it gives the sense of a change of one’s outward behavior based on one’s inner beliefs. If one has called on Christ, having believed the gospel message (an inner belief), that person should then reflect, in his outward conduct, a change which conforms to the One upon whom he has trusted.
It would make no sense for a person to accept the conservative views of hard work, lower taxes, moral uprightness, normal-brained thinking, and so on, just to continue to vote for left-leaning politicians. Nor would it make any sense for such a person to continue to support lazy indolence, higher taxes, perversion, and crazy ideologies. A change to right thinking should have a corresponding external change in the person. If this is true with an earthly political system, how much more should there be a change in a person to a life of holiness when calling on the HOLY GOD through Christ Jesus!
Life application: From eternity past, the Father has called us to be saved. This is known as the doctrine of “predestination.” It tells us that our salvation was and is set in stone; it was a done deal even before creation. And yet the Bible says that we must receive Jesus in order to be saved – an act of our free-will. How are these two concepts reconciled?
God doesn’t think like we do. We think thought after thought, sequentially. We may think discursively in random thoughts, or we may think syllogistically, making deductions where “this plus this therefore equals this.” But God knows everything intuitively and immediately. Nothing is unknown to Him including the free-will decision we make when we receive Jesus. Because of our salvation, it follows then that we need to be holy just as God is holy.
However, because we think sequentially – thought after thought – we get caught up in life as it comes our way. We are challenged with trials, troubles, woes, and difficulties as the moments turn into hours, and then the hours pass into days. This is why we so desperately need to be filled with God’s Holy Spirit.
Just as we asked for and received salvation, we need to ask forgiveness when we sin (a reactive action) which prepares us for being renewed in the Spirit. Also, we need to pray for wisdom, patience, and especially God’s direction in advance (acting proactively). And further, we need to know what God expects of us. This comes about through reading and meditating upon His word. By living in this way, we open the doors to holiness and right living.
It simply is not possible to go to church once a week, raise hands, and shout “Hallelujah,” and then spend the rest of the week relying on that short experience to keep us holy. Please make a daily commitment to –
1) morning – rise and praise;
2) daily – walk and talk;
3) evening – lay and pray; and
4) always – read the word and apply what you have heard.
The Bible reveals that we are always in the presence of the Lord. Remember this and act accordingly. And…be holy in all your conduct.
Lord God, the more we trust in You and the closer our walk is with You, it seems the more evident our sin is. Give us wisdom to confess our sins as they occur, and also to ask for guidance each day that we may be protected from sinning even more. Fill us with Your Holy Spirit as we seek You through Your word so that we may be pleasing vessels of holiness to You. Amen.