I wish you and I were sitting at a little coffee shop (Starbucks comes to mind!) where we could talk face to face because I would love to discuss the word, “Holy” with you. I would love to hear what each of you had to say about what it meant. I have been studying 1 Peter lately and have really been challenged by that word.
Take a look with me at 1 Peter 1:13-16. It reads¸ “Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But 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’”
Before I began the study I would have told you that to be holy meant to be perfect, without blemish. And I suppose that is an accurate definition of the word. Certainly no one would argue that God, himself, was indeed perfect and His son was without blemish. But me, well not so much! I am a girl who makes more mistakes than she would like to and in the past when I have read this Scripture I have always felt like this was one of those commands that was out of reach¸ no way could I be perfect, at least not this side of heaven.
But in my study the author asked me to think of someone who I considered holy and to describe their life. I thought of people like Corrie ten Boom and Mother Theresa and then it struck me…they were this side of heaven and yet lived holy lives, not perfect but holy. That meant no more excuses for me. The truth is I can live a holy life now and so I began examining the Scripture and my life to see where I needed to change my thinking. Here’s what I learned:
1st and foremost, we cannot be holy without Christ and the truth is, He has already made us holy. Our sins have been forgiven just as Hebrews 10:10 says, “We have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once and for all.”
So then as I looked back on the passage in first Peter I learned that I need to prepare my “mind for action.” In the King James it reads “Gird up the loins of your mind, “or in other words, “prepare for battle.” I am convinced that 90% of the battles we face are in our own minds. What I mean is that our wrong thinking, or worries about what might happen keep us from pressing toward what we are called to do and finding out what really would happen.
Anyone who knows me, knows that I have this extremely irrational fear of lakes, rivers, and pretty much any body of water I can’t see the bottom of. So much so that when my children were younger I use to agonize over what I would do if, while driving, I went off a bridge into the water. I would worry about how I would save all of my kids. I finally came up with this plan to get life vests and carrying them around in the van with me. We even rehearsed what each person’s role would be in the event of a horrifying plummet from a bridge. I cannot begin to tell you the amount of time and energy I put into worrying and planning for an event that in reality was and is very unlikely to happen. In fact, years later I can see how ridiculous it really was but isn’t that how wrong thinking is?
Or how about when we assume someone is upset with us, or misread someone’s body language? We take an innocent statement and turn it into a deep wound. And then we move forward with our wrong thinking intact, and a relationship that is anything but intact. Anybody else been there?
Ok so back to first Peter. The first thing Peter tells us is to “Prepare our mind for action” but he follows that with “be self-controlled.” So what does self-control have to do with being holy? Well as I thought through this question I realized that in preparing my mind I needed to spend more time reading Scripture and in prayer, but also I needed to use self-control in what I put into my mind. I need to stop wrong thinking, and be more mindful of the television shows I am watching, the computer sites I am visiting, and the music I am listening to. All of these things affect my holiness. As the old saying goes, “Garbage in, garbage out.”
So in order to be holy I need to prepare my mind and use self-control, but isn’t that all my effort and what if I mess up? Then am I no longer holy? Well the next part of first Peter is my favorite because it reminds me that I cannot do it on my own. Verse 13 finishes out by saying, “set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.” Our hope should not rest in our efforts, God knows we are not perfect and that we will make mistakes, but He reminds us through Peter’s words that our hope rests in the grace that is extended to us because of who HE is, not because of what we have or haven’t done.
The rest of the passage reads, “As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But 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’”
What I think this means is that once we are believers, we are called to be obedient and to no longer behave the way we did when we were without Christ. And it is that kind of living that leads to a holy life. Now that sounds like something I can do! How about you? Want to join me on the journey?