You Shall Be Holy (Part Three)
“but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, ‘YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.’ ” 1 Peter 1:15-16 (NAS)
Although there are many and varied principles put forth throughout the New Testament that deal with practicing holiness, today we will wrap up our study into the apostle Peter’s quote from the book of Leviticus concerning the LORD’s command for us to “be holy, for I am holy.” (C. f. Lev. 11:44-45, 19:2, 20:26)Again, this divinely directed utterance makes clear the Lord’s predetermined plan for the church was not one of producing forgiven “black-hearted sinners” who would struggle against sin yet succumb again and again, but rather saints (lit. holy ones), those who have the proper faith picture to overcome.
We’ve been considering the context that precedes Peter’s quote from the Old Testament to draw out the principles contained in God’s word that will equip us to “be holy.” In our first installment, we talked about the importance of the picture given us of being delivered and obtaining the predetermined, imperishable, protected inheritance which is reserved in heaven, in God’s presence. In last week’s article we discussed the importance of girding our minds and keeping them sober by being placed into action, engaging in spiritual battle for the souls of men.
Now, we consider the context which immediately precedes Peter’s citation from the book of Leviticus. “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance.” (1 Pet. 1:14)
No Consorting With The Spirits
Moses affirms the people of Israel are to be holy as God is holy in another critical principle found in Leviticus 20:6-8, “As for the person who turns to mediums and to spiritists, to play the harlot after them, I will also set My face against that person and will cut him off from among his people. You shall consecrate yourselves therefore and be holy, for I am the LORD your God. And you shall keep My statutes and practice them; I am the LORD who sanctifies you.”
The people of Israel, while in Egypt, had been exposed to the magic arts of the mediums and spiritists of the god of this world. Pharaoh had his magicians (spiritists) who attempted to diminish the power of the miracles that the LORD demonstrated through Moses to the Pharaoh by imitating them through their secret arts. (Ex. 7:8-8:15) These imposters were effective up to a certain point. They were able to replicate changing their staffs into serpents as Moses did his (even though his staff swallowed theirs) and the first two plagues of turning the water into blood and bringing the frogs upon the land. When Moses made the dust into gnats, the third plague, the soothsayers were unable to duplicate it and even told the Pharaoh, “this is the finger of God” (Ex. 8:19). The rest of the plagues followed until Pharaoh let the people go. So we can see why the LORD would have Moses speak specifically about turning to and trusting in the mediums and spiritists in the nations that would eventually surround them once they entered the land of Canaan.
Conformed or Transformed.
Jesus made these two statements during His earthly mission and both deserve our consideration. “And He was saying to them, ‘Take care what you listen to. ’” (Mark 4:24a) and “Therefore take care how you listen;” (Luke 8:18). These passages are from parallel accounts recorded concerning Jesus’ parable of the sower and the seed, followed by His revelation that anything hidden would become evident, and anything secret will be made known and be brought into the light. Go back and read the context preceding and following to get its full impact but the principle is clear. Be careful what and who you listen to, as well as how you listen. There’s a warning against wanting to hear something you want to hear rather than hearing what has been exposed in the light of God’s word. Paul, through the Holy Spirit said it this way, “but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance with their own desires..” (2 Tim. 4:3) .
1 Peter 1:14 makes it clear that Peter’s letter was addressed to predominantly Gentiles that had converted to Christianity. The Jews who had converted to Christ were not ignorant of God’s word. They may have dulled their senses to hearing it, but they couldn’t plead ignorance. The Gentiles were being reminded of their previous ignorance of the knowledge of God’s revealed will in His word. They were not to turn away from it and turn back to their former lusts, i. e. things of the world, including worldly advice. There has always been the adversary out there, the Prince of the power of the air (waves) seeking to turn God’s people from His instruction and purpose. The world may even have advice that seems pretty close to God’s, but it can only go so far in it’s power. It does not have the power to save or transform us into our predetermined purpose-being conformed to the image of His beloved son. Remember this: “They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.” (1 John 4:5-6) Brethren, if it doesn’t comport with the “doctrine conforming to godliness” (1 Tim 6:3), it’s the rotten fruit of “men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth” ( 1 Tim. 6:5). You’re either transformed (made holy) by the renewing of your mind through faith via the word of God, or you’ll be conformed to your former lusts by the lies of the world. Amen.