just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:15-16 NIV)
What does holiness look like? How will we recognise it? More important: How will we know if we have attained it?
The answer is both simple and complex at the same time. In the Scripture quoted above Peter refers to Leviticus 11:44-45 which tells us that the Lord God is holy. If holiness is God’s nature, if it is at the core of his very being, is who God is, then the answer to our question is quite straightforward: Holiness looks like God.
To be holy is to be godly, to value what he values, speak as he speaks, live as he lives; in other words to reflect God’s very being.
But this is where we move from simplicity to complexity, for who can truly know what God is like? Doesn’t Philip’s statement resonate with all humanity:
“Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” (John 14:8)
Thankfully we are not left clueless. The Father sent the Son who reveals to us who God is and what holiness looks like. Hence Jesus was able to say,
“Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” (v.9)
Holiness looks like God; it looks like Christ.
It is in Christ then, that we see the ultimate example of human holiness. He demonstrated that to be holy is to
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…’And ‘…Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37–39)
Holiness is to give ourselves over completely to the Father, as Christ did, wherever that leads. Holiness seeks to avoid all that is sinful, destructive, limiting or self-centred. Indeed it seeks the welfare of others.
Human pursuit of holiness, the seeking by grace to become more like God, actually means seeking to become more fully human, as divinely intended. Such an understanding of humanity is at the heart of what it means for humanity to be created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26).
How is this possible? In Jesus’ reply to Philip he said, “
I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me…It is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.” (John 14:10)
He went on to say, “
whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these” (v.12)
This is only possible because the Spirit of truth, along with the Father and the Son will be in us (v.16-17,23).
We are only truly able to be holy by loving God and neighbour because it is the holy God living in and through us; hence we can be holy as he is holy.
Holy Father, fill us with you Holy Spirit so we can live holy lives like your holy Son.
Have a good week being holy.