Be Holy, for I am Holy: Why Peter Grounds Our Holiness in the Holiness of God
The latest issue of Credo Magazine focuses on the topic of holiness. The following is an excerpt from Daniel Hyde’s article, Be Holy, for I am Holy: Why Peter Grounds Our Holiness in the Holiness of God. Daniel R. Hyde is pastor of Oceanside United Reformed Church in Carlsbad/Oceanside, CA. He is the author of many books including Welcome to a Reformed Church & God in Our Midst (Reformation Trust), From the Pen of Pastor Paul: 1–2 Thessalonians, Content Yet Contending: Jude (EP Books), and How Does Justification Make Me Joyful? (Reformation Heritage).
In 1 Peter 1, we have a basic grammar lesson. Peter has described Christians throughout the Roman province of Asia Minor as “elect pilgrims of the Diaspora” (v. 1; ἐκλεκτοῖς παρεπιδήμοις διασπορᾶς). He’s proclaimed to them that they’ve already been blessed with the new life of salvation (v. 3) while they await its full consummation in eternity (vv. 5, 7, 9). To put it into various grammatical tenses, pilgrims have been saved and will be saved. Then notice how in verse 13 Peter transitions to a new section of his epistle with “therefore” (Διὸ). While he’s already described the past and future tenses of the pilgrims’ salvation, now he writes about its present tense.
Time and time again the apostles write with a “gospel grammar.” They write first about what God has done or has promised to do for us, and then about what God is doing in us and through us as we respond to him in faith and love. In the first twelve verses of 1 Peter 1, the apostle writes in the indicative mood; that is, he speaks about us with statements of fact: we are God’s elect, we have been born again, we have a living hope, we have an eternal inheritance, we are being kept by God’s power, and we will be completely saved when Jesus returns. In verse 13 Peter changes course, speaking in the imperative mood; that is, he speaks in statements of command. The purpose of all this grammar is that we know Jesus better and seek to live for him more fully. As one old writer said, “The consideration of our spiritual privileges by Jesus Christ should stir us up to the study of holiness.”
In 1 Peter 1:13–16, the apostle writes of the pilgrim’s present preparation in journeying through this life towards the life to come. He does so with two main imperative verbs: “set your hope” and “be holy.”
Looking in Hope
In this life, pilgrims are to be preparing themselves by looking forward in hope to the life of the world to come. “Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (v. 13). The main action verb is the imperative “set your (pl.) hope” (ἐλπίσατε). This verb has two subordinate verbs that explain how we are to set our hope on the grace of God at Jesus’ revelation. The pilgrim Christian life is looking forward to Jesus’ coming when we will experience the fullness of his grace. Click To Tweet
By preparing your minds for action
First, set your hope on the grace of Jesus’ coming again by “preparing your minds for action.” The image is girding up the loins of your mind. Imagine those images you’ve seen of clothes in the ancient world, or, that are still worn in the Middle East. The basic garment of the first century was a long, sleeveless shirt that reached down to the knees. But during activity, such as work, war, and exercise, it was tucked up into the belt, at the waist, to make what was basically a pair of shorts. The idea that this image of girding up the loins of our minds is conveying is that we are to “get our minds ready” for the coming of the Lord.
This idea comes from past redemptive history. In speaking of the coming Passover, the Lord instructed the Israelites to eat it “with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste” (Ex. 12:11). Just as Israelites girded up their clothes in preparation for the coming salvation of the Lord from Egypt, so too we need to gird up our minds in preparation for the coming of the Lord to save us from this world. This is also what Jesus said in Luke 12:35–37:
Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes.
Note the contrast between being asleep and being awake spiritually.
By being sober
The second way we are to set our hope on the grace of Jesus’ coming again is by “being sober-minded.” This is not merely “don’t be drunk,” which is true, but this is a mindset and a way of life. Instead of being sober from alcohol, we are to be sober from the intoxicating ways of the world. For example, the world wants us to be addicted to its 24-hour news cycle—we have to keep up with the Kardashians, we need to know what Jim Rome said, and we need to know what a local politician in Kansas said and how that shows the global agenda is here. When we’re intoxicated with the ways of the world we lose our spiritual alertness for “the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
The pilgrim Christian life, then, is to be looking forward to Jesus’ coming again when we will experience the fullness of his grace. We do this with alert minds and sober lives.