Growing up in a variety of churches, I admit never having much understanding of Peter’s call to holiness. No one ever came to me and said, “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Of course, Jesus says it if I listen. This call to be holy in all manner of conversation makes me uncomfortable; I think it’s supposed to do that.
What is holiness? The word holy is an adjective — in English — which means:
1. Belonging to, derived from, or associated with a divine power; sacred.2. Regarded with or worthy of worship or veneration; revered: a holy book.3. Living according to a strict or highly moral religious or spiritual system; saintly: a holy person.4. Specified or set apart for a religious purpose: a holy place.5. Solemnly undertaken; sacrosanct: a holy pledge.6. Regarded as deserving special respect or reverence: The pursuit of peace is our holiest quest.
“15But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;
16Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1: 15-16)
In holiness, Peter says we do not conform to the evil desires we had when living in ignorance (1 Peter 1:14, NIV); rather we “live as strangers here in reverent fear” (1 Peter 1:17). We “rid ourselves of all malice and all deceit.” (1 Peter 2:1) We “crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it [we] may grow up in [our] salvation.” (1 Peter 2:2)
Peter says, be “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, so [we] may declare the praises of Him who calls [us] out of darkness into His wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9)