1 Peter: Holy Living

September 15, 2009

Several themes run through the book of 1 Peter:

  1. The great salvation we are receiving
  2. Our response to salvation:
  • Holy living
  • Godly relationships
  • Suffering as a Christian

In this article we will take a look at the necessity of responding with a holy life.

God has done amazing things on our behalf. Even in our corrupt, fallen state, we instinctively know that we should respond with gratitude for the great grace and mercy of God. The book of 1 Peter instructs us on the kind of grateful response God desires.

1Pe 1:13-16 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.”

Grace should motivate us to change how we live. We learn God’s ways, and we choose to live by them, to be self-controlled, and to leave our former evil ways behind. God calls us to be holy, because he himself is holy.

What does it mean to be holy?

  • When Moses stood on holy ground, he was commanded to remove his sandals. Holiness demands to be honored. (Ex 3:5)
  • Mount Sinai was holy. (Ex 19:23) Moses had to put a boundary around it to keep the people off the mountain, so that they would not be put to death. (Ex 19:12-13)
  • In the tabernacle was the Holy Place. When performing his service there, Aaron had to wear a certain robe with bells so that he would not be put to death. (Ex 28:34-35)
  • Beyond the Holy Place was the Most Holy Place. Only the High Priest could enter the Most Holy Place, and he could only enter once a year. He could not enter without blood, because blood was essential to make atonement for his sins and for the sins of the people.

When something is holy, it must be kept from all uncleanness. It must be reserved (sanctified) for holy uses. That which is holy must be treated with reverence. There are severe consequences for profaning what is holy.

Now stop and think about this: We are called to be holy.

1Pe 1:17-19 Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear. For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.

In order to be holy, we must live as strangers in this unholy world. We just cannot fit in. After all, we were redeemed through the most precious, sacred, and holy of sacrifices. We dare not treat those sacrifices as unholy:

Heb 10:28-31 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

So it is unthinkable that we would not respond to the incomparable gift we have received, by being holy ourselves.

Therefore, we must get rid of the unholy ways of our flesh:

1Pe 2:1 Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.

We are to rid ourselves of these things. Nobody will do this for us — although the Holy Spirit will certainly help, when we make the effort.

1Pe 3:10-12 For,
“Whoever would love life
and see good days
must keep his tongue from evil
and his lips from deceitful speech.
He must turn from evil and do good;
he must seek peace and pursue it.
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
and his ears are attentive to their prayer,
but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

Yes, Christians are forgiven. Yes, that includes sin that we commit as Christians. But it absolutely does matter how we live.

Heb 12:14 Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.

We have heard the term “holy” so often, and have seen actual holiness so seldom, that we really don’t even understand how far we fall short of that standard. I think we tend to cut ourselves way too much slack in this area. Holy living is not just a good idea.


  1. Hello, What did Jesus mean at John 17: 21a May they all be one, as You, Father, are in Me and I am in You. (HCSB)?If Jesus wants us to be one with him and the father does this mean that we too can be a part of the trinity? I ask this because earlier in verse 11 he states: "….so that they may be one as we are one."This scripture is often used to support the trinity but it would actually seem to support the argument that the oneness shared by God & Jesus is similar that of a husband and wife and not as a triune God, unless we too as his followers are included in that triuneness. Thanks,Tib

  2. Jesus wasn't making a point about the Trinity when he said "as we are one." He was talking about the relationship he has with his Father. Throughout the chapter he talks about the relationship he has had with the Father since before the world began, and about how he wants that same kind of relationship with us. I've written more about that passage here.

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