1 Peter 1:15-16
Be Holy, for I Am Holy
“But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.” Throughout Leviticus, the Lord will give a law and then follow it with, “I am the Lord” (cf. chapter 18). This saying acts as the justification after every statute which is given. And behind these words stands this most fundamental truth about our God: He is holy. There is none before Him, none beside, and none after. There is God and everything else which He made (and which man corrupted). So, His holiness speaks primarily to his “otherness”—that there is none other like Him, for He alone is God—all-powerful, all knowing, everywhere present at one and the same time, infinite in all His attributes—in word, glorious.
But then there is another way of speaking about His holiness of which Peter speaks, and it has to do with God’s purity, His complete sinlessness, His being utterly without evil, that in Him there is no darkness at all. There is a purity and goodness in God that reaches beyond the heavens. And this purity and goodness in God, together with all His other attributes, made the psalmist cry: “One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in His temple” (Psalm 27:4). The coalescence of all of God’s wondrous virtues, powers, and qualities in their infinite degree is His glory and His beauty for which the psalmist yearns.
But there is something more that this holy God desires, and that is a holy people. We’ve spoken of this just recently. It is our honor that God so honors us and calls us out of darkness and into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9). And what we discover is that though it is impossible to have all of His attributes in perfection as He does, still He shares those attributes with us. For example, by setting us apart unto Himself, He makes us “other” in this world—aliens and exiles. Though we shall never be pure like Him, He cleanses us with His Holy Spirit as we walk with Him. Though we shall never be good like Him, He empowers us to go about doing good. Though we shall never know as He knows or be wise like Him, He enlightens our minds by the Holy Spirit as we immerse ourselves in His word. Though we cannot be everywhere at all times, He renders our prayers efficacious from wherever we are. I could go one but the point is that He shares His holiness with us such that we participate in it as we walk with Him in the light. God must and will have a holy people who love Him and desire more than anything else to spend eternity with Him—for His sake—which is always best for our sake.