Pastor David B. Curtis


Media #1,221 MP3 Audio File Video File

You Shall be Holy

1 Peter 1:14-16

Delivered 06/09/24

Good morning, Bereans. We are continuing our study of First Peter and today we will be looking at verses 14-16. Peter is writing to exiled Christians that are suffering greatly for their faith. Peter encourages them by having them focus on the greatness of their salvation (1:1–12) and the truth that no matter how bad the persecution is, it is temporary but their salvation is eternal.

In verse 13, he tells them to set their hope completely on the grace that would be brought to them at the Parousia of Christ. The hope they had was a result of being chosen by God. That grace included the fulness of their salvation and the judgment that would be brought on their persecutors at the Lord's return.

Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Yeshua the Christ. 1 Peter 1:13 ESV

Peter says, "the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Yeshua the Christ."  When Christ returned, they (the first-century believers) would receive grace. This clearly implies that Peter expected the second Coming in his readers' life time.

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 1 Peter 1:14 ESV

"As obedient children"—is a Hebrew expression that means "characterized by obedience," or "habitual obedience." A literal translation should be "as children of obedience." The implication is that God is our Heavenly Father whom we obey. His Word tells us how He wants us to live. We are to conduct ourselves in a manner that is becoming of the children of God by obeying his commands and by submitting to His will.

This expression, "obedient children," is an allusion to the relationship between parent and child. It is actually an expression that we read many times in the scriptures.

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Ephesians 6:1 ESV

All children are expected to obey their father – this is a characteristic of the father-child relationship.

"Do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance"—the word "conformed" is from the Greek word suschematizo. It is a compound word from sun and schematizo. Schematizo refers to the act of assuming an outward expression that does not come from within, in other words, putting on an act.

This word is only used one other place in the New Testament:

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2 ESV

The ESV messed up here. The word "world" in our translation is from the Greek word aion, which means "this age." It refers to the Old Covenant Jewish age.

Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Yeshua the Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 1 Peter 1:13-14 ESV

As we saw last week, Peter is comparing two ages—the one coming at the revelation of Yeshua the Christ and the former one. He tells his readers to fix their hope on the Parousia of Christ which would bring in the olam haba. They were no to be conformed to the former lusts. They were obedient children and were not to assume an outward expression that did not come from within.

"To the passions of your former ignorance"—this sounds like it is addressed to the Gentile members of the congregation who did not live in the past under the laws of righteousness that the Jewish Christians were accustomed to living under. Their ignorance was their former lack of knowledge of God that led them to godless conduct. They were to abandon their former pagan practices and live as holy children of a holy God.

The language used here regarding those who had lived in ignorance and so had conformed themselves to the lusts of the flesh is typical language used to refer to Gentiles before their conversion. Paul writes,

Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. Ephesians 4:17-18 ESV

The Gentiles engaged in the worship of their idols and were completely ignorant of God's law in general, including the moral teachings. As a result, they lived in gross immorality. The description used here fits the Gentiles better than it does the Jews, and it is often used elsewhere to describe them.

"Because of the ignorance that is in them"—ignorance is translated from the Greek word agnoia from which we get our word, agnostic. It means "to be without knowledge." This speaks of ignorance of Yahweh's revelation and will. This explains why unbelievers are alienated from the life of God. They are without knowledge of Him.

The alternative of being "conformed to the passions of your former ignorance" is to be holy.

but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 1 Peter 1:15 ESV

The main verb here is "Be holy." Peter reinforced this imperative ("be holy,") with a quotation from the Tanakh.

since it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy."  1 Peter 1:16 ESV

Peter quotes from the Law (Lev. 19:2) and applies it directly to his readers under grace:

And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, "Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy. Leviticus 19:1-2 ESV

As God's children, we need to get in the habit of asking, "What does God's Word say?" Then we need to obey it.

"You shall be holy, for I am holy"Peter is saying we are to be holy because Yahweh our God is holy.

How do we know that Yahweh is holy? We know that he is holy because the Scriptures teach us this. God has revealed himself through the Scriptures. And this morning Peter brings us to the most fundamental truth about God and that is that He is Holy.

Exalt the LORD our God, and worship at his holy mountain; for the LORD our God is holy!  Psalms 99:9 ESV

In a day where there is an increasing loss of respect for authority of all kinds and at all levels, the people of God would do well to recapture the understanding of the holiness of God.

The Psalmist, in our text, declares with great authority a common theme of Scripture and that is that our God is a holy God. We know this is true for several reasons.

1. The Scriptures declare that God is holy.

For I am the LORD your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy. You shall not defile yourselves with any swarming thing that crawls on the ground. Leviticus 11:44 ESV
But Joshua said to the people, "You are not able to serve the LORD, for he is a holy God. He is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions or your sins. Joshua 24:19 ESV
"There is none holy like the LORD: for there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God. 1 Samuel 2:2 ESV

2. Biblical characters tell us that God is Holy. Moses first encountered God in the desert as a burning bush which was not consumed by the fire. God spoke to him and said:

"Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground."  Exodus 3:5 ESV

After the death of the King Uzziah, Isaiah went into the temple to pray. He saw a vision of the throne of God and saw angelic creatures surrounding the throne, and this is what they were saying:

"Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!"  Isaiah 6:3 ESV

John Eleazor, when on the isle of Patmos, saw a vision of heaven which he described this way:

And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!"  Revelation 4:8 ESV

What does it mean to be holy? To be holy is to be distinct, separate, in a class by oneself. As Sproul puts it:

The primary meaning of holy is "separate." It comes from an ancient word that meant "to cut" or "to separate." Perhaps even more accurate would be the phrase "a cut above something." When we find a garment or another piece of merchandise that is outstanding, that has a superior excellence, we use the expression that it is "a cut above the rest." [R. C. Sproul, The Holiness of God (Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1985), page 54]

This means that the one who is holy is uniquely holy with no rivals or competition.

When the Bible calls God holy, it means primarily that God is transcendentally separate. He is so far above and beyond us that He seems almost totally foreign to us. To be holy is to be "other," to be different in a special way. The same basic meaning is used when the word "holy" is applied to earthly things.

Thus, the base meaning of "Holy" is that God is separate from mankind. This may be understood in two ways.

1. God is separate from us because God is greater than us.

The word used to describe this is transcendent. That means he is superior in every way to us. Everything that is found in God will be greater than anything you will ever find in the world. Compare for a moment mankind and God.

Consider man's greatest triumphs. Think about man's greatest achievements. Nothing man has ever done can ever begin to compare with what God has done in creation.

One of the greatest lessons ever taught on this subject is found in the book of Job, and it came from God to Job. In the beginning of his trial, Job's response was excellent. But as time went on, Job began to get very weary and he started to question God. "Why is this happening to me? Show me? I've lost everything except my wife, why?" When Job tries to bring God down to his own level, God responds. He doesn't answer Job's questions, he asks some questions of his own.

Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: "Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. "Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? Job 38:1-5 ESV

God shows Job that man has absolutely no right to question Him. In a series of questions on cosmology, oceanography, meteorology, and astronomy, God challenged Job's competence to judge His control of the world.

Have you comprehended the expanse of the earth? Declare, if you know all this. Job 38:18 ESV
And the LORD said to Job: "Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty? He who argues with God, let him answer it." Then Job answered the LORD and said: "Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth. I have spoken once, and I will not answer; twice, but I will proceed no further." Job 40:1-5 ESV

In verse 6 of chapter 40 through 41:34, God focuses on behemoth and leviathan. He shows Job that he could not even control these animals, let alone take over God's job of controlling the universe. God, in effect, says, "I created everything, I own everything, and I control everything, who are you to question me?" Notice Job's response in:

Then Job answered the LORD and said: "I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. 'Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?' Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. 'Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me.' I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes." Job 42:1-6 ESV

Job says, "I understand that you are God, the Creator, and I am but a man. Please forgive me. I was wrong for not recognizing your sovereign right to give and to take away. I hate myself. How could I ever question you?"

In these closing chapters of Job, we find that Job's questions are one question rolled onto another and another with the overwhelming conclusion that God's holiness must mean that He is separate from us because He is so much greater than us.

2. God is separate from us because God is different from us.

The word used to describe that nature is the term "infinite." When something is finite, it has definite limits. "Infinite" means just the opposite. It describes something which has no limits to it. God is separate from us because of the fact that He has no limits or parameters upon him whatsoever. God is not only separate from us, he is also distinctively different from us.

Solomon understood this truth well. It was God's decision that he would be the one who would build the temple for God. On the day of that dedication, at the moment when the ark of the covenant was brought into that magnificent structure, the shekinah glory of God broke out and filled the house of the Lord. In his greatest expression of humility, Solomon responded to God by saying:

"But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built!  1 Kings 8:27 ESV

Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived on this earth, the man with the keenest mind of all, understood that not a single one of us can ever begin to compare with God. The fact that he is Holy means that he is separate from us, not geographically, but in nature and scope. He is superior to us and he is different from us.

In one of the letters Luther wrote to Erasmus, he said, "Your thoughts of God are too human." That may be one of the greatest shortcomings of Christians today. In some ways, we are too familiar with God and treat him as if he were one of our pals. God is not like any of us is this room. He is far superior to us and has no limitations in any way whatsoever.

What is our proper response to the holiness of God?

Exalt the LORD our God, and worship at his holy mountain; for the LORD our God is holy!  Psalms 99:9 ESV

When the Psalmist wrote these words, he suggested a response was in order in light of God's holiness. We are to exalt Yahweh our God. That is another way of saying we should acknowledge Yahweh for who He truly is. Exalt the Lord does not mean that we cannot draw near to him, that we cannot call upon him at any time, and that we cannot expect his assistance in any and every situation. However, exalting the Lord does mean that we must not treat him commonly. We often treat God as "the man upstairs" or the "spare tire in the trunk." He is not some angelic errand boy to whistle for when we need something.

Exaltation is, in essence, worship of God in light of who He is. The Psalmist here tells us that we are to worship Him because He is HOLY.

True worship is acknowledging that God is the very object of our faith. Exalting God is much more than singing along from the PowerPoint or bowing one's head at the proper time of prayer. It means that you recognize him for his greatness and his superiority and that you bow to His sovereign control in every area of your life. Control of what? Control of your career, control of your finances, and control of your relationships in marriage, in parenting, in dating, at work, and in social occasions. Our proper response to God's holiness is to exalt God to His proper place in our life.

How Important is it for us to understand God's Holiness? The holiness of God is not merely a theological subject fit for scholars with the interest and stamina to pursue it. The holiness of God should be a matter of great importance to every Christian. Several incidents in the Tanakh and New Testament underscore the importance of holiness to the believer. These examples are but a few of the many accounts in Scripture dealing with God's holiness and its impact on saints.

In Numbers 20, we have the account of the children of Israel arriving at Kadesh, a place whose name meant "holy." At Kadesh, there was no water for the people to drink. The people were hostile, and a mob contended with Moses and Aaron. They expressed to them that they wished that they were dead, or even better, that Moses and Aaron were. They protested that they had been "mis-led" more than they had been led by Moses to a land far from what they were promised. The lack of water was the final straw.

Moses and Aaron went to the doorway of the tent of meeting, and there the glory of the Lord appeared to them. God then commanded Moses to take his rod and speak to the rock and from it water would flow for the people. Moses was furious with the people as he gathered them before the rock. Instead of merely speaking to the rock as commanded, in his anger, Moses struck the rock twice. The consequences were indeed severe.

Who has not lost his or her temper and done worse than striking a rock with a stick? Yet, this act was so serious in God's sight that He forbade Moses to enter into the land of promise. Moses never entered the land to which he came so close. Why? God told him, and he recorded it for us.

"Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them." These are the waters of Meribah, where the people of Israel quarreled with the LORD, and through them he showed himself holy. Numbers 20:12-13 ESV

In a moment of anger, Moses sinned, and for this sin, he was kept from entering the promised land. The act was striking the rock. But it was much more than this. Striking the rock was an act of disobedience, of failing to follow God's instructions. Even more, it was identified by God as an act of unbelief:

And the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, "Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them." Numbers 20:12 ESV

The root sin was irreverence, and that irreverence was the cause of Moses' disobedience and his striking the rock. Moses' anger with the people overcame his fear of God. His fear of God should have overcome his anger with the Israelites. God took Moses' irreverence most seriously.

In a battle with Israel, the Philistines had captured the ark of God and sought to keep it as a trophy of their victory. It soon became evident that the ark was the source of much suffering to them. They passed it about and finally determined to be rid of it by sending it back to Israel. They transported it in a way the Philistine priests and diviners recommended. They put a guilt offering of gold in the ark and placed it on a newly-made cart drawn by two cows just separated from their calves (see 1 Samuel 6).

After leaving the Philistines, the ark of Yahweh was brought to the house of Abinadab, where it remained for some 20 years (1 Samuel 7:1-2). Finally, David, accompanied by 30,000 Israelites, went to Kiriath-jearim to bring the ark to Jerusalem.

The ark was a symbol of the presence of God, a most holy object (see 2 Samuel 6:2), which was to be hidden in the holiest place in the tabernacle, the "holy of holies." According to God's instructions, it was to be transported by the Kohathites who carried it by holding onto poles inserted through its attached rings (see Exodus 25:10-22; Numbers 4:1-20). No one was to look into the ark, or they would die.

The day the ark was transported to Jerusalem was a great and happy moment. But they had forgotten how holy this ark was—it was the place where God's presence was to abide. Rather than transporting the ark as instructed in the law, the ark was placed on a new ox cart. It was a most jubilant procession as the ark made its way home. What a happy time! But when the oxen stumbled, and it looked as though the cart might be overturned and hurled to the ground, Uzzah reached out to steady the ark. Instantly, he was struck dead by God.

David's first response was frustration and anger with God. Why had God been so harsh with Uzzah? David seems to have forgotten God's instructions in the Law about how the ark was to be transported. He also seems to have forgotten how many had previously died when due reverence for the presence of God, associated with the ark, was not shown. God had spoiled their celebration, and David was miffed. Only upon reflection did David realize the gravity of the error. And concerning Uzzah, God struck him dead because of his irreverence (2 Samuel 6:7).

And when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah, and God struck him down there because of his error, and he died there beside the ark of God. 2 Samuel 6:6-7 ESV

Irreverence is a dangerous condition. Even when our motives are sincere and we are actively involved in the worship of God, we must constantly be mindful of the holiness of God and maintain a reverence for Him manifested by our obedience to His instructions and commands.

The story of Ananias and Sapphira, in Acts 5, is a familiar one to most Christians. In the early days of the church, there was a great concern for the poor. When needs arose, saints would sell some of their possessions and lay the proceeds at the feet of the apostles for them to distribute (see Acts 2:44-45; 4:34-37). Ananias and Sapphira did likewise, but with a divided heart and in a deceptive way. They sold a piece of property but kept back a part of the proceeds for themselves. They gave the remainder of the money to the apostles as though it were the whole amount. When their sin was exposed to Peter, he confronted them, and both of them died. Great fear came upon the entire church, not to mention the rest of the community

These two lied to the Holy Spirit. The sin of Ananias and Sapphira was an affront to the holiness of God in His church.

Further, Luke includes a comment on the effect the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira had on the church and the community.

And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things. Acts 5:11 ESV
None of the rest dared join them, but the people held them in high esteem. Acts 5:13 ESV

Unbelievers were prompted by their fear to keep their distance from the church, and the saints were motivated to keep their distance from the world (as far as its sins are concerned).

Fear is the response of men to the holiness of God. Thus, the sin of Ananias and his wife was a sin of irreverence, a sin against God's holiness. But the outbreak of divine holiness, which brought about the death of this couple, also brought fear on those who heard of this incident.

The appropriate response to the holiness of God is fear (reverence), and the outworking of fear is obedience.

As I look at the Scriptures that speak of the holiness of God and the fear it should produce in the hearts of men, I find a very strong correlation between fear (or reverence) and obedience.

An understanding of the holiness of God produces a heart which reverences God as the Holy One. The holiness of God is the basis and the compelling necessity for our practical holiness.

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 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." 1 Peter 1:14-16 ESV

Because God is holy, we who are His people must be holy too.

         "Since it is written"—"written" is a perfect passive indicative, which is an idiom for Scripture. It is used often by Yeshua, but it is found only here in Peter.

When it comes to the use of the Tanakh, 1 Peter stands out among the New Testament letters, especially when one compares the number of citations and allusions to the length of the letter. First Peter contains about the same number of references from the Tanakh per unit of text as does Hebrews. Only Revelation contains more.

"You also be holy in all your conduct"the word translated here as conduct is anastrophē which means behavior. The word anastrophē is a favorite for Peter (6 of 13 New Testament uses are in 1 Peter, with two more in 2 Peter). It refers to conduct or to what we would call "lifestyle." That Peter here links "holiness" with "behavior" and adds the word "all" is significant because many pagan religions of that time separated "cultic holiness" from everyday life. Peter is saying that our separation unto God is to affect every area of life, both private and public. Notice that the holiness of God requires us to be holy in all our conduct and not just in some of our conduct or part of our conduct.

This is talking about our lifestyle, our daily behavior. Believers, we are to live holy lives. Whom was this written to? Is there anything here that limits this to the first-century audience? Peter is writing to the Church. All believers are part of the Church. Yahweh wants us 21st-century believers to live a holy lifestyle.

God takes pleasure in us when our obedience shows that we put our treasure in Him and not in the enticements of sin. He delights in the humility of our submission that loves to make a name for God and not man.

Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Colossians 3:20 ESV

Believer, do you understand this? Obedience pleases God, and disobedience displeases Him.

Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness. 1 Corinthians 10:5 ESV
Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. 1 John 3:21-22 ESV

We don't earn our salvation through obedience. But the Bible makes it clear that when we disobey Him, we're not pleasing Him.

Many have a wrong idea about obedience. They think God is just a cosmic wet blanket, out to ruin everybody's fun. "Don't have fun, or you'll be sinning, and I don't like that." That's the way many people view God, and sometimes Christians reinforce that view of God as somebody who doesn't care what you do so much as what you don't do. However, the reason God wants us to obey Him really has very little to do with His wanting to keep us from fun. It has to do with His caring about us so much that He doesn't want us to get hurt. God's guidelines for our behavior are there to protect us. Think about something that is considered a sin in the Bible. No matter the sin, a person will always be safer and better off if they don't do it. I could name many examples, but it's almost silly to waste time doing so now. Pick a sin, any sin, and a reason to avoid it can be quickly thought of.

God delights in our obedience because everything God commands us is for our own good. Ultimately, what God is really delighting in when he delights in our obedience is our deep and lasting joy.

And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as we are this day. Deuteronomy 6:24 ESV
"And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the LORD, which I am commanding you today for your good? Deuteronomy 10:12-13 ESV

God's commands are not arbitrary. They are meant to make us well and happy. Every command of Yeshua is meant for our good. The word Torah is usually translated as "Law," but to the Hebrew, it meant "the journey." To a Hebrew, a "command" is the direction for the journey. "Righteous" is traveling on the path. And "wicked" is lost from the path. If we could grasp this Hebraic concept about Yahweh's Word, it would change our thinking and our walk.

We don't like commandments because they seem restrictive (such as "don't do this"). But directions such as "go this way, are helpful and beneficial." If you want to get somewhere, you must follow directions. The same is true with Yahweh's directions. If you want a life of fellowship with the Father and, therefore, a life of joy and peace, you must follow the directions that Yahweh has given us. To not follow the directions and to leave the path is to not arrive at your goal of joy and peace. Yahweh has laid out the direction for the path in His Word. It is essential that we read it, study it, and follow it.

whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. 1 John 2:6 ESV

Our lifestyle is to be like Christ's. Paul tells us how to walk like Christ.

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. Galatians 5:16 ESV

Only as we live in dependence upon the Spirit's power can we walk as Christ walked. He lived His life in dependence on the Spirit and so should we.

The basic desire for each of us should be to please God by everything we say and do. That's the key to the Christian life. The man who is outside of Christ lives to please himself. But we are to live to please Christ. Look at John's words again.

whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. 1 John 2:6 ESV

We are to walk as He walked. Compare this with what Yeshua said.

And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him." John 8:29 ESV

How would you like to be able to say that? How strong is your desire to please God? What are you willing to sacrifice, what pain are you willing to endure that you may live in a way that is pleasing to God?

Learning to live and please God is a matter of biblical instruction. It is neither natural nor innate. Without the Word, there is simply no way any of us are going to be able to walk as we should and be able to please the Lord.

In the context of this command from the Tanakh, Israel was to "be holy" so that she could have intimate fellowship with God. We cannot expect to enjoy intimate fellowship with God, who is holy ("I am holy"), unless we too are holy. Intimate fellowship with Yahweh is the greatest good that human beings can experience. The true Christian ideal is not to be happy but to be holy.

The Christian life is a process of growing to know God as He has revealed Himself in Scripture. This knowledge of the Holy One has a transforming effect on our lives. We can never be as holy as God is holy because such absolute holiness belongs to God alone. But we can and must grow in personal holiness as we grow to know our Holy God.

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