So get yourselves ready, prepare your minds to act (‘gird up your minds)’, control yourselves, and look forward in hope [on heaven] as you focus on the grace that comes when Jesus the Anointed returns and is completely revealed to you. 14 Be like obedient children as you put aside the desires you used to pursue when you didn’t know better.
15 Since the One who called you is holy, be holy in all you do. 16 For the Scripture says, “You are to be holy, for I am holy.” 17 If you call on the Father who judges everyone without partiality according to their actions, then you should live in reverence and awe while you live out the days of your exile.
18 You know that a price was paid to redeem you from following the empty ways handed on to you by your ancestors; it was not paid with things that perish (like silver and gold), 19 but with the precious blood of the Anointed, who was like a perfect and unblemished sacrificial lamb.
20 God determined to send Him before the world began, but He came into the world in these last days for your sake. 21 Through Him, you’ve been brought to trust in God, who raised Him from the dead and glorified Him for the very reason that your faith and hope are in Him.
There are times in life when we have to be reminded who or what we are.
• When I was coaching: “You are Sabre – and you are a Christian. Remember who you are and what you represent.” • You often hear something along the lines of, “You are a (fill in the family name). Act like one!” I don’t even know what that means – what does a Weber do that nobody else does? – but you get the idea. • To children: “You’re 10 now. You aren’t a baby!” • “You are an adult; act like an adult.” • “You are a dad/mom. Be a parent!”
The Bible tells us who or what we are when we commit our lives to following and serving Jesus Christ.
• We are children of God (John 1:12; Ephesians 1:5; 1 John 3:1-2; Romans 8:17) • We are chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation (1 Peter 2:9) • We are temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) • We are God’s workmanship (Ephesians 2:10) • We are branches attached to the Vine (John 15:5) • We are citizens of Heaven (Philippians 3:20) • We are the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27) • We are a light and salt in the world (Matthew 5) • We are ambassadors of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20) • We are like living stones building a spiritual house (1 Peter 2:5)
This is what we are when we believe Jesus is who he says he is and have committed our lives to following Him. All of this is describing what the Bible means when it tells us we are holy.
The Hebrew is “qodesh” and means “apartness, set-apartness, separateness, sacredness.” The Greek is “hagios,” which means set apart, reverend, sacred, and worthy of veneration.” It carries the idea of being pure or unmixed in allegiance and life. In Old Testament times, what was holy belonged to the gods in an absolute way.
If you do a google image search of ‘hagios’, you will find a lot of pictures of temples. Temples were called hagios because they were different from other buildings in their purpose. They were set apart. Now look what Paul – who knew something about temples – writes to the Christians in Corinth:
"Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are." (1 Corinthians 3:16-17)
So holiness is a status conferred by God to those who have given their lives to Jesus. We are not just called to be holy; we are holy the minute we are set apart for God’s divine purpose in an absolute way.
And yet there is also language of becoming holy in the Bible. I Peter 1:3 tells us to “become holy in all we do” and cites Leviticus. We read in Hebrews 12:4, “Pursue peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” Dr. Bob Utely says this verse in 1 Peter is best translated, “You must prove to be holy.” You must show that you are holy.
To use grammar terms (which everybody loves), when the Bible talks about holiness it uses verbs that are both indicative and imperative: in other words, it indicates or identifies what you are and also commands you to strive to be that thing which you already are. It’s holiness as a standing vs. holiness as a lifestyle. We are holy because of our relationship to Jesus, but we are called to act out our holiness.
Think of a person who goes on a diet to become more healthy. The minute they change their eating habits, their diet is different, and they are set apart from the average eater, but the longer they stick with it the healthier they become. Or a person who was not a gym member becomes a gym member. They have a new identity, but they still need to work to flourish in that identity.
Though we have been set apart and been made holy, we have to learn how to live with integrity and consistency in our holiness. There is a process of discipleship or maturity in which we increasingly become what we are.
There are lots of ideas about how we grow in this way, but I want to go to a classic biblical image that will give us some broad principles for growing in holiness. Peter wrote about ‘girding up our minds’. It’s brings to mind the girding Paul talks about in Ephesians 6. Living in holiness is hard, but God equips us for that to which He calls us.
10 Finally, brothers and sisters, draw your strength and might from God. 11 Put on the full armor of God to protect yourselves from the devil and his evil schemes...Truth banded around your waist (‘girded with truth’), righteousness as your chest plate, 15 and feet protected in preparation to proclaim the good news of peace. 16 Don’t forget to raise the shield of faith above all else, so you will be able to extinguish flaming spears hurled at you from the wicked one. 17 Take also the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Paul is referencing a common sight: Roman soldiers. People knew how armor and warfare worked.
• The belt of truth holds our outfit together.
The Bible speaks truth. It takes some work to properly understand everything, but it speaks truth. God inspired the writers to make sure of this. It doesn't address everything in the world, but what it does address, it address truthfully. We must be people of truth, and we must practice the honoring of truth in everything. We are people of truth. Are we set apart by living what we are?
• The breastplate of righteousness (right living) guards our heart.
It does not save you; it guards you and it guards God’s reputation. It guards your eyes, thoughts, friends, influences, and actions. We are made righteous in Christ. Are we set apart by our commitment to living what we are?
• The gospel of peace (with God through Jesus) is what should prepare us as we walk to the world.
Is our goal to bring peace as we go into all the world and preach the gospel, or is our goal to win culture wars? Are we praying about how to embody the reconciling love of God? As we will see in a bit, the sword of the Bible will do its own kind of confrontation of sin, but Jesus did not come to condemn the world, but to save it (John 3:17). One day, he will return as a Judge because there is plenty to condemn, but that day is not today (with apologies to Aragorn). We are people who are at peace with God through Jesus. Do we stand out as being set apart as ambassadors for peace with God through Jesus?
• The shield of faith quenches the fiery darts of the evil one.
It is a wall of a shield, not a little one on the arm. When you look at the context of the word here, this is a reference to the faith that has to do with patience and endurance. This isn’t a reference to the moment of salvation; it’s a reference to ongoing trust.
• “Fear Not, Abraham, I am thy shield.” (Genesis 15:1) • “The Lord is a shield to all who put their trust in him.” (Proverbs 30:5) • “The Lord God is a sun and shield.” (Psalm 84:11)
We are people with a shield: God himself. Do we live as shielded people in the midst of spiritual attacks because we keep our trust God, who fights for us?
• Helmet of salvation/our Savior (the hope of salvation/our Savior)
This verse is not about the initial act of salvation, but a focus on the hope that salvation brings: a life with Christ now and fully experienced in eternity. It is the hope of victory. Jesus wins in the end, and we who are being delivered from the power of sin now will one day be freed from the very presence of sin. I think the idea here is that our mind is guided and protected so that we never forget the reason for the hope that lies within us: Jesus came to save sinners, and He has saved me. We are people of hope; do we live with hope that we have?
• Sword of the Spirit (the sword which the Holy Spirit furnishes, which is the Word of God)
It’s the one offensive weapon. We will have to wield it, but we are not the sword that the Holy Spirit furnishes. The Word of God does its own work. We don’t make it our goal to cut others. The Bible does the cutting. We just bring it to the fight boldly but carefully. We are people who have been given the Word to fight for us; do we live as people who are confident that the Word will do its work?
We are declared holy when God sets us aside for his divine purpose, and then we begin the journey into that holiness, a journey which will only find its end in heaven. So what difference should this make in my life?
My life is set apart for God now. The church is the face of holiness on earth for better or worse, and that church includes me – and you. “What do you want me to do today, Lord?” “I have set you apart in all you do for my divine purpose. I want you to live as the child of God that you are. ”
• When I drive my boys to school, I am a man set apart for God’s divine purposes in this moment…. • When I get to work, I am a man set apart… • When I hang out with my friends… • When I discipline my kids… • When I post something online… • When I turn on entertainment… • When I tell a joke… • When I argue or go on a date with or ignore or sleep with my wife… • When I play a family game… • When I drive… • When I eat… • When I….
What difference would it make if I got up every morning with this reality in front of me?