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. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, You shall be holy, for I am holy.
Becoming the person God created us to be isn’t easy nor does it happen overnight. This transformation is the result of God’s grace, which is primarily seen in the Holy Spirit working in our lives. We experience the Holy Spirit’s power in our daily surrender to God and His will.
There is this mysterious mix of God’s power and our choices which come together to transform our lives. While we are powerless to change by our own effort, there are certain choices which God demands from us that make transformation possible.
The transformation of our lives results in holiness. God expects us to be holy.
What does it mean for us to be holy? To be holy means that we are separated from the ordinary. Just as God is separate from His creation and is free from sin, we are to be separate from this world and be purified from our sinful behavior.
We should not think of holiness in simply moral terms. When we do this we see holiness as a line in the sand. If we stay on the right side of the line then we are holy. A line view of holiness makes us legalistic because we have decided what is acceptable and unacceptable. It also leads us live as close to the line as we can. We want to be as much like the world as we possibly can be.
I would like to suggest that holiness shouldn’t be seen as a line that we can’t cross. Rather we should see holiness as the direction of our lives. In other words holiness is following Jesus. We can’t define following Jesus by drawing a line in the sand. Following Jesus is defined through the direction of our lives.
How do we follow Jesus in the direction of holiness?
In this passage Peter provides us with four choices we must make that move us forward on this journey of holiness. It is interesting to note that three of the four choices focus on our minds. This should remind us that holiness begins with our thoughts and attitudes. Our behavior is the product of what we spend our time thinking about.
- We need to prepare our minds for action. The call of Jesus is the call to redemption. In redemption we are saved, but we are saved for a purpose. We are saved to make disciples, to be Christ’s ambassadors in the world, and to be God’s priests. We have the hope of salvation and we have the responsibility of loving our neighbors as ourselves. In order to do this we have to have our focus our attention in the right place. The writer of Hebrews says we are to focus on Jesus as we run the race of faith (Hebrews 12:2). This requires that we keep in mind who Jesus is and how he lived. This brings me to a second way for us to prepare our minds: we have to put God’s Word into our hearts. We need to fill our minds with what is good, pure, and truthful so we can be prepared for what lies ahead.
- We are to be sober-minded. Our heads need to be clear. Not only do we have to be abstain from drunkenness, which clouds the mind, but we have to keep a proper perspective on our circumstances. Often we allow our emotions to cloud our thinking, and the result is a poor decision. Being sober-minded requires us not only to refrain from being drunk or getting high, but it also requires us to have a proper foundation for making decisions. God’s Word provides us with a guide to direct our thoughts and emotions. Scripture will consistently point us in the right direction. Our emotions on the other hand will cause us to be tossed back and forth by the wind of our desires.
- We are to set our hope on the grace of God. Our hope isn’t found in our goodness or knowledge, but in God’s amazing grace. This is important to remember because we can’t measure up to God’s standard of holiness. We can’t be holy as He is holy without help. This help is found in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, which frees us from sin and gives us the hope of new creation. This help is also found in the gift of the Holy Spirit. Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit will teach us all truth, and as we follow the guidance of the Spirit our lives begin to take on the characteristics of love, peace, joy, and forgiveness. Thank God holiness doesn’t depend on our efforts, because none of us would have a chance. My hope isn’t in my strength, but in God’s grace.
- We are to strive for obedience. Obedience will always lead us away from evil. We are not to be conformed to the ways of the world, rather we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. This reality leads us to discover that God’s will is good, and we begin to desire to do what God wants us to do. We will not obey God, and thus we will not be holy, if we do not trust that His way is good. We need a transformation of our minds so we can understand that God’s way is the best way. This transformation happens through the Holy Spirit teaching us the truth found in Scripture.
The transformation of our lives requires both God’s miracle and our choices. God’s miracle can be seen in the resurrection of Jesus and the gift of the Holy Spirit. Our choices include preparing our minds for action, being sober-minded, setting our hope on God’s grace, and striving for obedience. As we make these choices we prepare ourselves to be made holy. That is what it means to be transformed.
Questions to consider:
- What does it mean to be holy?
- Why does transformation require both God’s miracle and our choices?
- What are the choices you are making to experience transformation in your life?