Q. I always have a problem when it comes to explain holiness. I want to think it means not drinking, not smoking, etc. But deep down inside me there is something that tells me that the meaning of this word goes deeper than that. When I read 1 Peter 1:13-16 I thought I was going to get a detailed breakdown of what holiness means but didn’t. Can you please explain what Pater was saying?
A. 1 Peter 1:13-16 says,
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.”
To be holy is to be set apart for God’s use. It’s not something we can do to ourselves, it’s something that’s been done to us. Therefore 1 Peter 1:13-16 is not admonishing us to avoid certain behavior in order to make ourselves holy, but to do so because we already are holy.
Also, the evil desires he mentioned are not just things we think of as sins. They are anything other than the use for which we’ve been set apart. For instance, a temple goblet was set apart for exclusive use in temple ceremonies. It could not be used to take a drink of water. Drinking water is not a sinful act, but it was forbidden to use a temple goblet in doing so because it had been set apart for temple use. It was a holy thing and couldn’t be used for a common purpose.
It’s the same for us. Since our lives have been made holy we are not to use them anything apart from the purpose for which God intends them.
Similar instructions are found in Romans 12:1-2. We are to offer our entire beings as living sacrifices, holy, and pleasing to God. We are not to conform any longer to the patterns of this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. This way we can we can discover what His will for our life is.
When we’re in His will our actions are holy. Until then even the ordinary pursuits of life are considered to be evil desires because they involve using a holy thing (us) for a common purpose rather than the purpose for which we’ve been set apart.