It feels strange to me to think of myself as holy. What about you? Nevertheless, Peter tells his readers that Christians are “a holy nation” and a people who are God’s own possession. Perhaps it’s because the world has twisted the meaning of the word “holy” so much and misused it that we shy away from using it.
Certainly it’s true that “holy” can mean pure and undefiled by sinful living. God calls His people to “be holy yourselves also in all your behavior” (1 Peter 1:14-16). The meaning here is not to participate in the evils of the world. Christians strive to achieve such a standard, and devoted disciples are diligent to apply the word in their lives to try to become like their Master Jesus. The world often makes fun of people trying to live in this manner by using such words as “You think you’re better than everybody else” and “a holier than thou attitude.” Little do they realize that Christians, more than any other people on earth, realize how far short of God’s holy standard they fall.
The world also uses the word “holy” in reference to a particular group of people (a pastor, priest, monk, rabbi, etc.) who are total devotees to a certain religion. “He’s a holy man” is often said of such individuals. But God never intended for any of His church to be considered holier than any of the others. New Testament teaching is clear on this. Jesus Himself forbids that His followers should use such titles as “Rabbi,” “Father,” or “Teacher” since Christ is Lord over all of His followers and all Christians are to see themselves as His servants and to become servants to others (Matthew 23:8-12).
As Peter uses the word in our text, “holy” means separated from the world unto God for His service and glory. It is from the same Greek word from which we get saint and sanctification. Every Christian is set apart from the world for God’s purposes. “He is holy.” “She is a saint.” There are no ranks nor classes of people within the church, just differing responsibilities. Nobody is holier than someone else because of what they do.
Christians are a holy people unto the Lord. Let us see ourselves in that light. “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”