1. What does it mean to be “holy”? (“To be Holy is a characteristic unique to God’s nature which becomes the goal for human moral character. The idea of “holy” is important for an understanding of God, of worship, and of the people of God in the Bible. Holy has four distinct meanings—First: To be set apart. Second: perfect, transcendent, or spiritually pure, evoking adoration and reverence. Third: Something or someone who evokes veneration or awe, being frightening beyond belief. Fourth: filled with superhuman and potential fatal power.”---Holman Bible Dictionary.)
2. Where did you get your ideas of what “holiness” means? (Sometimes we can’t define holiness, but we know it when we see it in the lives of those around us.)
3. When you hear a Christian describe someone as “holy,” what words or phrases come to mind?
4. When making major lifestyle changes, where do people get encouragement and motivation to keep on when facing challenges?
5. What or whose examples do they follow?
6. How do they select these examples?
7. Do you think of the word holy as applying to you?
Peter wrote his letter to Christians who were making a major lifestyle change. They needed encouragement to continue to live a holy life amid persecution for their beliefs.
In 1 Peter 1:13-25, Peter highlighted four important reasons believers were to exhibit holiness, regardless of their circumstances. It’s easy to misunderstand holiness, but it’s incredibly important to embrace it and to display it through our lives.
Obedient! Read 1 Peter 1:13-16
1. What does the phrase “the desires of your former ignorance” refer to? (The believers were not to lapse into their former pagan lifestyle. “As obedient children” live a life committed to God!)
2. Does that admonition apply to believers today, if so, how?
3. Why are we, as Christians, to live holy lives? (Our standard of holiness must come from God, not from the culture in which we live. Society begins attempting to set standards when children are born. Babies are weighed and measured then compared with what is “normal.” In contrast to cultural norms, God provided the pattern for holiness for His children, who are born again to a living hope!)
4. Should personal holiness matter as long as we are not hurting someone else? (God set the standard. We can be deceived into thinking that our particular brand of morality is acceptable, but ultimately He will be the judge. The other problem is that it is hurting someone else. There is always someone watching your actions and your disobedience hurts them! It is also sin! Sin is a heavy burden to carry, and attempting to be holy relieves us of some of that burden.)
Old habits can become barriers to holiness. Holiness must be cultivated. Unless we seek to follow Christ and be obedient to God we will not grow more like Him.
Peter’s admonition to be holy like “God is holy” is not a suggestion, it is a command.
5. When you consider holiness, what does that include? (Holiness extends to our bodies, but it starts with our minds. Setting our minds on Jesus automatically means some thoughts, philosophies, and ideas must be abandoned because they cannot co-exist. We act out what we think about.)
While God’s standard of holiness can never be attained—our righteousness is like filthy rags compared to God’s (see Isa. 64:6)—we strive to grow closer.
Holy living results in living with reverence for the Father in the here and now—our temporary residence.
Reverent! Read 1 Peter 1:17-21
Peter instructed his readers to live out of reverence to God’s position as Judge and in response to the cost of salvation. All people are held accountable to God: the unbeliever for his or her rejection of Jesus and the believer for how he or she lived for Him.
1. Why did Peter have to remind his readers that God “judges impartially”? (Many of the Jews felt they had a “get into heaven free card”. They were chosen, yes, but chosen to take the “good news” to the rest of the world.)
Read Leviticus 22:19-25, John 1:29 and Rev. 5:9-10. In Leviticus God gave a picture of what kind of sacrifice would be required for the atonement for the sins of the world. Only Jesus satisfies the requirement. He was the only “Lamb” without defect or blemish, and chosen before the foundation of the world!
God did not choose temporal things, even those we consider valuable—such as gold and silver—to redeem us. He chose His holy and perfect Son to die in our place!
2. How does the knowledge that God planned Jesus’ death and resurrection long before you ever sinned heighten your reverence for the Father?
3. How does rejecting the death of Christ disrespect God the Father?
4. How does an eternal perspective help you live a more holy life on earth? (God will eventually judge the living and the dead. He will separate those who received Christ from those who rejected Him, condemning those outside of Christ and rewarding those who are in Him.)
True belief leads to obedience and reverence, but it also leads to a compassionate life.
Compassionate! Read 1 Peter 1:22-25
1. What does the purification process for believers encompass? (It begins with salvation through Jesus. When we accept Christ as Savior, “He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” 1 John 1:9. As we are born again, we experience the newness and purity of having our past sins washed away, but we also invest in becoming holy people who have experienced God’s forgiveness.)
2. How are we to love one another? (Earnestly from a pure heart.)
3. How do we demonstrate the words “earnestly from a pure heart”?
4. What is the connection between a pure heart and sincere love? (The quality of our heart determines the quality of our love for others. What’s in our hearts always comes out. An impure heart will affect our ability to feel and exercise compassion and love. God is love. How we love others matters to Him and indicates how genuine our faith is and how deeply committed we are to His ways.)
5. Peter quoted Isaiah 40:6-8. These verses provided comfort to the exiles in Babylon. How can they be a comfort to us?
6. What is the connection between holiness and compassion?
7. What is the connection between humility and a person’s love for others?
8. How is our love for others rooted in the gospel?
Summarize and Challenge!
1. How does 1 Peter 12:13-25 encourage and motivate you to live a holy life?
2. Knowing that God is holy and demands holiness of His children, what can you do to cultivate holiness in your life? (We must make a clean break with our past. If we are holding on to old habits, old thought patterns, or even old friends that affect us negatively, we must let them go. Stay in God’s Word. It provides instructions for living and promises that serve as daily reminders that holiness will eventually be rewarded.)
Love and compassion are holy earmarks of a relationship that pleases God. Pure love is devoid of resentment, jealousy, bitterness, etc.
Our challenge: Make holiness an objective of your life! Pray and ask God to examine your life for impurities and forgive and cleanse you for a new day.