‘‘But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.’’ 1Pet. 1:15 – 16
Additional reading: Deut. 7:6; Rom. 12: 1 – 2; Col. 3: 12; Heb. 12: 14
We are presently in the last part of this study, which is, The Christian Life and Character. And so far, we have taken a thorough look at the character of the Godhead, that is, God the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. At this stage, it is expedient we study the Christian Life and Character against the backdrop of the Godhead.
But permit me to say this: character is a quality that makes somebody or something distinctive. Character also makes somebody or something attractive. It also gives a reputation. So when one is described as a man or woman of character, it simply implies that that person has a distinctive attribute, or is attractive, or has a reputation. In other words, that person has something different from others. So when we talk of Christian Life and Character, we are talking of those attributes of Christians that make them distinct — different from others, we are talking of the honest conversations — lifestyle of the Christian, which should witness for Christ and we are talking about the reputation — views held by those of the world about Christians.
Character could also be said to be one’s moral strength. What one exhibits at different times in life will to a great extent reveal that person’s strength or weakness. Against this backdrop, Paul in his letter to the Church in Rome said: ‘‘But that’s not all! We gladly suffer, because we know that suffering helps us to endure. And endurance builds character, which gives us hope that will never disappoint us. All of this happens because God has given us the Holy Spirit, who fills our hearts with his love.’’ (Rom. 5: 3 – 5 CEV.) Specifically, Paul said that endurance builds character. What then should be the Christian character?
Moses in continuing his instructions to the people of Israel as directed by God pointed out some critical lifestyle of the people, which was aimed at making them distinct from other people around them because they are a people called out from the rest of the world and separated unto God. Moses said: (1) That after the defeat of the seven nations occupying Canaan, the people of Israel were to completely destroy them all by putting them to death. They were not to go into any agreement with them. (2) Their sons were not to marry their daughters, neither their daughters were to be given to their sons in marriage. This warning was given because if any marriage was contracted between Israel and others, God’s people would be lead into idolatry. (3) All places dedicated to idol worship were to be destroyed (Deut. 7: 3 – 5.)
What specific reason did Moses give for the above instructions? In other words, why were the Israelites restricted from behaving in like manner as the people of the land they were about to inherit? This is the reason: ‘‘For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD they God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.’’ (Verse 6.)
The reason given for the above instructions is very simple; that they (Israel) are a holy people unto God. He also said that they are a special people chosen by God from amongst all people on the earth. For this reason, the people of Israel were to live a life reflecting the holy nature (character) of God.
Let the truth be told that as Israel is God’s chosen people, Christians who make up the Church of Jesus Christ are also God’s chosen — called out from the world to reflect His glory. Against this backdrop and writing in a similar vein as Moses, Apostle Peter admonished the Church thus: ‘‘But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.’’ Be it the Old Congregation marching into Canaan or the New Congregation, holy is an uncompromising trait amongst God’s people.
This will help us: ‘‘But as he which hath called you is holy [hagios … an awful thing; sacred (physically pure, morally blameless or religious, ceremonially consecrated…], so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.’’
In all His ways, God is pure and blameless; there is no sin or evil in Him. Therefore, what is true and distinct about God, should be so about His children — ‘‘Be ye holy; for I am holy.’’ As God is holy, we too must be holy. God would not have asked us to be holy as He is if it were not possible. Being holy also means being set apart — consecrated. Christians are, therefore, to be set apart for God’s service and worship as it is only in holiness that we can serve and please God.
Meditation: Am I holy as God is holy?
Prayer: Father I desire to be holy as You are, because I can be holy as You are. I forsake all my evil ways and I set my life for Your use. Use me LORD in Your holiness.
Question: (1) Why has God asked His children to be holy as He is? (2) What are the elements of holiness?