“As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance:
But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conservation;
Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.”
Hope and sanctification are mutually inclusive concepts! This we discovered in our last Meditation, relative to the verse preceding our text. Our text is a continuation and development of the thought expressed in the preceding verse: “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
Proceeding from the supposition that our hope—which hopes to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto us at the revelation of Jesus Christ—will also manifest itself in a walk of sanctification, the apostle encourages us to be holy in all manner of conversation. This is, indeed, the main thrust of the Word of God mentioned above.
So become holy!
As He which has called you is holy!
That we may become holy as God is holy—this is, indeed, the substance of our hope. And unto this we are exhorted in the text.
As God is holy!
That God is holy, there can be no doubt, for this is abundantly attested to in all Scripture. Listen to the psalmist! “But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.” And again, “The Lord is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works.” Allow Isaiah to take you into the presence of God, and hear .with him what the seraphim constantly call out as they stand before His face: “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of his glory.” And Isaiah says again, “God that is holy shall be sanctified in righteousness.” And Peter, quoting in our text from the Book of Leviticus, has in mind those passages which declare: “For I am the Lord your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy.” Jesus Himself, while in the flesh, prayed: “Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou has given me.” And John in the Revelation, describing the activity of the four beasts before the throne, ascribes to them this saying: “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.”
That God is holy means, negatively, that there is no sin or corruption in Him. He is light, and there is no darkness in Him. Positively, it means that He is absolutely consecrated to Himself as the only Good. It is His prerogative to be Self-centered because He is God. He is the exalted One Who dwells in unapproachable light. He has no communion or fellowship with sin or sinners, and is a consuming fire over against all the workers of iniquity. Shall anyone approach unto Him, he must be like unto Him—holy as He is holy.
He Who is holy has called you to be holy!
This calling is the efficacious calling whereby the Holy One transforms those who were children of darkness into children of light. Though this calling comes to us through the preaching of the Gospel, it is never to be identified with the mere word of man; but it is the irresistible, almighty calling of Him Who makes the dead to live, and calleth those things which be not as though they were. He causes the light of His holiness to penetrate into our sin-darkened hearts, casting out the darkness, and causing the grace of His holiness to dwell there. Shining the light of His holiness into the innermost recesses of our hearts, He gives by the grace of His Spirit light to our eyes, so that we see; opening of our ears, so that we hear His divine calling. And when you hear His calling, and behold Him, the Holy. One, Who calls you, you also see the blackness of your sinful heart; and the corruption of your nature becomes a thing so repulsive that you hate it as God hates it. Then you are also attracted to Him Who is the effulgence of beauty, and purity, and goodness.
Be holy as He is holy!
And holiness in us is that grace of God whereby we also are in principle delivered from sin and corruption, and consecrated unto God.
Be holy in all manner of conversation!
Our conversation is our life in all its manifestations, in all its departments. Our conversation is not merely the words we speak, but it includes also the thoughts behind that speech. Our conversation is our whole life, personally, inwardly and outwardly, as we live it in relation to those in our homes, in the church, in society, in the state, in the world. And undoubtedly the apostle has in mind especially our outward life, which of course, is always motivated from within, by the inward man, the man of the heart. For as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.
That walk is to be consistently holy!
Not fashioning ourselves according to the former lusts!
Those former lusts were the carnal desires and passions that characterized our thinking, willing, and acting as we lived out of the old nature, and before the holiness of God penetrated into our hearts. Accordingly we sought the things which are below. We had pleasure in sin and corruption. We walked in darkness, in spiritual ignorance. O, indeed, not so was it, that we did not know the difference between good and bad. Even the heathen have the work of the law written in their hearts, so that they can distinguish between good and evil. But spiritually we were ignorant. That is, we had no correct knowledge of God, of sin, of the blessedness of God’s fellowship, of the calling of the gospel whereby we are now called to walk in holiness.
But from all this, in principle, we have been delivered!
O, make no mistake about it! The holiness we now possess, we carry in an old nature which is still inclined to all evil. Here is precisely where the spiritual battle comes in. We have in our hearts the desire to serve God, to be devoted to Him in love; but corruption, but the old man of sin in us loves to do evil. If we were already holy as God is holy, there would be no need for the exhortation of our text.
And how necessary is this exhortation today! Is it not your and my complaint, dear reader; that this hatred of sin and this consecration to God are so meager? Is it not so with us that, with better knowledge, with the saving knowledge of faith in our hearts, we nevertheless find great delight in satisfying the lusts of our flesh? Do we not find ourselves humming the tunes which the wicked sing as they proceed on their way to destruction? Do you not catch yourselves finding delight in the vanity the world has to offer? And when you observe all this, do you not feel in your hearts that you are very disobedient to your heavenly calling as children of God?
As He which hath called you is holy!
So be ye holy in all manner of conversation!
As obedient children!
Remember God, Who is holy, is your Father!
And obedience to Him is to be subjected, to be in submission to His command. Literally the term “obedient” means: to hear under. Being under Him, under His Fatherly care, under His Fatherly Word, under His loving command, you are submitted, you hear and listen, and therefore obey.
Father has begotten you through the power of the resurrected Mediator unto a living hop. He has begotten you unto an incorruptible, undefilable, unfadeable inheritance which is reserved in heaven for you; and unto which He preserves you through the power of faith.
And remember that as Jesus once prayed, so He continues to pray: Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me!
Should we then not hear and obey, as obedient children, His command to walk in holiness, to be holy as He is holy?
Indeed, he who is truly the child of God will respond to his Father’s calling to be holy as He is holy in all manner of conversation. Because he is a child of God, which he is only by sovereign grace, he will be obedient.
And when he is naughty and disobedient, he will run to his Father with bitter tears streaming down his face, and cry out his humble confession of transgression, and plead for Father’s mercy, and pray for more grace to withstand the lusting urge of his flesh to walk in the way of sin, and to put on the new man, which in Christ Jesus is created unto righteousness and holiness.
And the more will this be true of him because he knows that he is living in those days in which the prophetic Word of God informed him that it will become increasingly difficult for the children of God to live in this world because the days are evil—the more I say, will he walk carefully, in the way of sanctification. Not in his own strength will he walk, nor ever imagining that sanctification is his work which he contributes unto his salvation; but believing with all his heart that the good work which Father has begun in his heart, He is also able to perfect. Consciously and obediently responding to the divine call to holiness, he will strive earnestly to emulate His Father with a godly walk.
And Father, Who will never allow anyone to pluck us out of His hand, will continue to call us, and never cease to remind us that it is His eternal desire that we be like unto Him.
Holy as He is holy!
And presently all His dear children shall appear before Him clothed in His righteousness, and shining with His grace of holiness.
Then shall He say unto them, “Come, ye blessed, enter into the tabernacle of My holiness, yea, in the inner sanctuary where I dwell.”
And we shall never go out!
World without end!