When God says, ‘be holy as I am holy,’ it’s a high call on our lives. What does it mean? The Apostle Peter passes on God’s charge to us, quoting from the days of Mosaic Law – what sets us apart in the world and how are we to act in ‘holiness’ in our world today?
43 Do not defile yourselves by any of these creatures. Do not make yourselves unclean by means of them or be made unclean by them. 44 I am the Lord your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy. Do not make yourselves unclean by any creature that moves along the ground. 45 I am the Lord, who brought you up out of Egypt to be your God; therefore be holy, because I am holy.
13 Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. 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.”
God laid out his requirements for Israel to eat and not eat certain animals based on their status as clean/unclean. He closes the instructions with a charge for Israel to consecrate themselves and be holy as God is holy. God had brought them out of Egypt to be their God – therefore God desires for Israel to follow him.
Peter quotes these verses from Leviticus in his letter. He writes that followers of Jesus should have sober and alert minds, with our hope set on the grace of Jesus we look forward to (when Jesus comes again).
Peter calls for our obedience to God just like the Lord did through Moses. The call to holiness is a call to follow the direction and ways of God. We are the children of God, and we are no longer unaware of God’s ways.
They have been revealed in Jesus. We have seen the way Jesus came to earth, lived his life, died for us, and holds our future hope. We are to live our lives as Jesus lived in the world – as messengers of hope and grace.
We are to, by contrast, steer clear of the evil desires of our past when we didn’t know Jesus. Israel’s separation from the world was through God’s law which made them different from the surrounding nations. They were set apart.
Jesus sets us apart today. As followers of Jesus, we are children of God whose identity is in our Lord. God calls us to align with his holiness. This isn’t about clean and unclean animals on the dinner table; it’s about us choosing to be holy or unholy in our approach to life.
God, speak to me about my own holiness and how I can be more like you.