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First Epistle of Peter 1: 13-21 (NIV)*
13 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. 14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
17 Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear. 18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 20 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. 21 Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.
Although addressed to “God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia” (verse 1), this first letter of Peter was written to all who are “chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ” (verse 2a). It is relevant to all of us.
The exhortations that begin at verse 13 continue throughout the letter. The writer urges, “just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do.” What does this mean for the followers of Jesus Christ today?
We could list all that Peter presented as contributing to holy living. From this passage:
- prepare your minds for action;
- be self-controlled;
- set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed;
- do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance;
- live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear.
Something that is holy is set apart, consecrated, for a particular use or purpose. Consider the Old Testament use of the word “devoted”. “Devoted things” were those solely to be used for a god-honouring purpose, whether in the tabernacle or temple, honouring YHWH, or in the temple of some pagan deity. In the latter case the children of Israel were instructed to have nothing to do with them. The book of Joshua depicts the tragic results when some of the items devoted to a pagan deity were taken by Achan!
We find “devoted” also in the books of Samuel, Kings and Chronicles. Recall this tragic statement about Solomon (1 Kings 11: 4):
As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been.
So, “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.’” This means we are to be fully devoted to the Lord, not only on Sundays but every day of the week, at work and at home.
We have been redeemed, “bought back”, (verse 18). Our response to this redemption is to resolve not to “sell out” again. We are to devote ourselves to God through Jesus Christ. As devoted people, we are to be holy – holy in all aspects of our lives.
*The reflection of 5 August 2014 also refers to the first chapter of the First Epistle of Peter. Why not visit it now?