“But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation….” (1 Peter 1:15)
As we think about being and becoming holy, we may make saintly people a standard, but this easily leads astray. When God showed Himself to Isaiah, the prophet saw himself accurately — not holier than a neighbor or slightly less holy than a priest, but undone, unclean. God alone defines holiness, and we see our condition rightly only in contrast with Him.
We are powerless in ourselves to obey this injunction to be holy, but God provides resources for obedience to all His commands. As we make ourselves available, the Incarnation is reenacted: He puts His Spirit in us, shaping us to look like Jesus.
Yes, the holy God is high and lifted up and vastly separate — but because of Christ, He comes nearer than our breath and makes us holy. This does not happen overnight. As we cooperate and walk in obedience, He works out that holiness in “all manner of conversation.” He teaches us what holiness looks like in all areas of life — in our relationships, worship, priorities, entertainment, everything! The result is that we have, in Oswald Chambers’s words, “a strong family likeness to Jesus Christ.”
Holy as thou, O Lord, is none!
Thy holiness is all thy own;
A drop of that unbounded sea
Is ours, a drop derived from thee. (Charles Wesley)
The Holy One calls us to become holy ones in Christ.
Originally published in the God’s Bible School & College Ministry Library.