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Living a Holy Life

There is no question that Peter calls his readers to live a holy life. This is directly stated in Peter’s quotation of Leviticus 19:2 in 1 Peter 1:16: “You shall be holy because I am holy.” But what exactly does it mean to live a holy life? How does a Christian live a holy life in a culture hostile to Jesus Christ?

In my studies I came across a wonderful section in Scot McKnight’s commentary on 1 Peter. I’ll reproduce it here for your edification.

“But how will this work out today? First, we need to recognize that the force working today to enculturate the mandates and truth of the gospel and to swallow holiness are not as overtly physical as they were in Peter’s day. But the threat to the church should not be minimized. While Peter’s churches could spot those opposed to them because they had seen such people beat on Christians physically, we must have discernment to perceive the same kind of pressure today on the church and on Christian living. In particular, we have the forces of modernization, privatization, and secularization. These forces war against our souls as other forces warred against the souls of the Christians in Asia Minor. Why, for example, do so many Christians think that the essence of Christian living is to be disciplined and efficient? While such ideas are not absent in the Bible, they are hardly held up as core values. Do we not hold them up so high today because they reflect what we have found effective in our capitalistic society? Culture influences us more than we will ever know.

Second, we need to learn that holiness means in all areas of life. Inasmuch as the government, employer-employee relations, and the wife-husband relationship will occupy our attention in the next sections, we can leave these topics to the side. Peter is calling his people to a lifestyle that begins and ends with the theme of holiness, and we need to realize that holiness is not just a call to read the Bible daily, to pray daily, to be faithful attendees of church, to be tithers, or to follow any other Christian virtues that have become the essence of Christian living. Holiness is a thirst, a drive to know God whatever it costs and wherever we are. It begins in the morning, directs our path during the day, and leads us to confession and praise in the evening.

Just as Peter’s call to holy living was a symbol for the identity of churches, so today holy living ought to be a characteristic symbol of what identifies a Christian. This includes holiness and righteousness in sexual practices, in the words we utter and do not utter, in economic decisions, in recreational pursuits, in vocational direction, and in theological decisions. It includes doing things that contribute to personal holiness, such as Bible reading, prayer, fellowship with other Christians, and the evangelization of our world.

Third, the Church needs to call all of its members to a life of holiness, to a life that denies itself any indulgence in the passions of the flesh and demonstrates to the world that God is at work in the church. Thus, holiness has both a negative and a positive dimension. It means avoiding sin and actively performing acts of goodness and love. Avoidance of sin, like the cult of separationism that sometimes swallowed fundamentalism, is only one part of the biblical notion of holiness; the other part is positive behavior that demonstrates the goodness and glory of God. But this demand must be asked of people form the beginning of their Christian lives; it is not a tacked-on doctrine asked of those who have progressed in the faith for years. We are asking the church to attack sin in society (e.g., fighting casual sex, drugs, alcohol, discrimination against the poor and disenfranchised, institutionalized gambling), and we are also asking the church to live in such a way that others take notice of the Christian’s good behavior.”

See: Scot McKnight, 1 Peter, The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996), 137-139.

  1. February 27, 2008 at 11:26 am

    I have fought a lossing a battle in my life and here i rest my case for christain values.
    Kindly send christain publication to better my life. I pray to you in the name of our lord Jesus Christ.


  2. My name is Adebayo Taiwo. From Nigeria. I thank God for how u guys life. U are doing a great job. Pls can u send a message with bible verses to me on LIVING A HOLY LIFE. Pls as soon as possible. God bless u.
    February 21, 2010 at 6:21 pm

    My name is Adebayo Taiwo. From Nigeria. I thank God for how u guys life. U are doing a great job. Pls can u send a message with bible verses to me on LIVING A HOLY LIFE. Pls as soon as possible. God bless u. Archymacho@yahoo.com

    March 15, 2010 at 10:24 am

    i appreciate the fact that people still have the mind of Christ on reaching to others to know more about ALMIGHTY GOD is which ever way they find easy..please can u send me (to e-mail) a book i can downlord that have complete expression on HOLY LIVING..GOD BLESS YOU ALL lets continue the good works of helping others to know God the more while we’re not left behind..GOD BLESS U …ABEL

  4. Mikey
    April 29, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    As Christians we thirst for a Holy life — at least we should. Yet in so many places Christians fall so terribly short (myself included). Then we wonder why our lives, our families, our churches are so messed up.

    We run around blatently using God’s name in vain, ignoring His laws wheneveer convenient (because, after all, we live “under Grace” not “under the law”….as if Grace somehow excuses blatent sin?).

    What will it take for use to wake up and start living the Holy lives we have been called to? Easy. It just takes us submitting to God, putting Him first in our lives, and embracing the personal relationship that He freely offers!

    So why do we keep running our own way? People of our Lord Jesus Christ — it is time to turn fully to Him. It is time for us to turn from the mediocrity that has made us stale and putrid.

    Heb 12: 1-2
    Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

    We don’t need books to live a Holy life. We don’t even need specific scriptures. We need only to determine in our hearts to place Him first. To submit our lives fully and completly to Him (after all, that is the essence and indeed meaning of being “holy”). Then, as we read the Bible, to do what it says — regardless of the culture around us.

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