But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written, ‘Be holy because I am holy.’ Since you call on a Father who judges each work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear (1 Peter 1: 15-17).
‘Holiness, reverence and fear’ are not very popular words among believers in Jesus today. We prefer words like ‘relationship, friendship, family’ which are all true but we need to put them in their right perspective.
Before Peter had anything to say about relating to God as our Father, he put it into the context of a correct attitude towards Him – reverential fear. In this generation, the pendulum has swung from legalistic fear and distance from God to the kind of closeness that lowers the standards He requires until we treat God as our buddy and forget that He is still a holy God.
The very word ‘father’ is intended to include honour, respect and obedience. Take Jesus, for example. He came to earth as the Son of God. Was He not always, from before His incarnation, the Son of God? Not according to the Scriptures. Psalm 2 makes it quite clear that there was a specific moment when Jesus became the Son of God.
I will proclaim the Lord’s decree: He said to me, ‘You are my Son; today I have become your Father.’ (Psalm 2:7).
God chose the father/son relationship to model the relationship He wanted between Himself and those who come to faith in Him through the Son. Jesus emptied Himself of every right and privilege as God in order to become a reverent and obedient Son. It had to be so that He could live as a perfect son in the place of the rebellious human race that had opted out of sonship to become renegades instead of rulers. He had to do this in order to die in our place. He also modelled and taught us how to be sons.
In order to become true fathers to their own offspring, sons have to learn to be servants to their fathers. According to the Bible, a son’s role is to serve his father until he is mature enough to have his own sons and daughters who will, in turn, serve him – and so on down the generations.
‘. . . Have the same mind set as Christ Jesus who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to His own advantage; rather, He made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness (Phil. 2: 5b-7).
Jesus’s call to His disciples, ‘Follow me,’ included the call to be a son like Himself. What are the qualities He modelled and taught?
The first requirement is holiness. That’s enough to scare us, isn’t it? What is holiness? We tend to think of holiness as something mysterious; God is so holy that we dare not whisper or even breathe in His presence let alone approach Him. In the Old Testament era, the people were not permitted anywhere near His visible presence in the Holy of Holies, only the High Priest, once a year and then after he followed strict rules and approached God with the blood of an animal sacrifice.
How can we approach God now? We come through Jesus, the perfect son who became the perfect sacrifice to take away our sin. In God’s eyes. we are already holy because He sees us through Jesus. But that also means that, just as Jesus has removed our sin and blotted it out, it is now up to us to remove ourselves from sin and be set apart to God and for God.
Reverential fear is the second requirement. God is not our buddy. He is our God and our Father. He is our life source and our authority. The fear of the Lord is based on two fundamentals; who He is and what He does. He is the almighty, all knowing and everpresent God. He sees and knows everything. Solomon put it like this:
Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil (Eccles. 12: 13-14).
Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.