1 Peter 1:16 says, “Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” This is quoted from the book of Leviticus in which God is giving direction to the Children of Israel to be holy; to set themselves apart and be sanctified. (Leviticus 11:44, 19:2, and 20:7.) Jesus emphasized this in Matthew 5:48 in which he said, “Be ye therefore perfect [or mature], even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”
Has anyone ever asked you, “Are you holy?” The first time I was asked that, I simply answered “no” because in my finite mind, I thought no one is holy except for God in any of his manifestations. Is this an accurate thought? What does it mean to be holy? Most people think that being holy is sticking to a list of “thou shall” and “thou shall not”. Obviously, if the Bible commands us to do something, we better do it. By the same token, if the Bible tells us we better not do something, we better not do it. However, for everything else, there is liberty.
We, being sinful humans, can easily turn liberty into a vice, but if we remember that we are to be holy, we can live in liberty and still fulfill our obligation to be holy. If we want to be holy, we need to know the “rule book”. We need to study the Bible and apply it to our hearts and our lives in everything we do. When we drive our cars and come to a stop sign, we do not get out a book of rules and read, “Thou shall apply thy brakes 100 feet prior to the stop sign”. We simply stop at that stop sign because we have read the rule book and have applied it to our lives and we know that is what we are supposed to do. (At least, some of us stop.)
It is when we forget, or choose to ignore, or even more dangerously, we never know the thou-shalls and thou-shall-nots that we run into a problem. Even our churches and denominations are teaching that the “rule book” does not matter just so long as we show up and have a good time. We (as a nation, as a church, as a denomination) have forgotten that we are supposed to be a beacon on a hill. We therefore we live lawlessly. Lawlessness is doing what is right in one’s own eyes. Many churches actively preach lawlessness from the pulpits under the guise of “liberty”. The reality is that the river of liberty exists somewhere between the banks of the extremes: the commands of the things we are to do or not do, and we can drown in that river if we are not careful.
“Be ye holy” is a command you are expected to put into action. Are you holy?