13 Therefore, once you have your minds ready for action and you are thinking clearly, place your hope completely on the grace that will be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed. 14 Don’t be conformed to your former desires, those that shaped you when you were ignorant. But, as obedient children, 15 you must be holy in every aspect of your lives, just as the one who called you is holy. 16 It is written, You will be holy, because I am holy.
The beauty of reading the Bible in different translations is that familiar phrases suddenly strike you in a new way.
Take the phrase in verse 16, which is a quote from Leviticus 19:2. Usually it’s translated: “Be holy, because I am holy.” It’s a command. God orders us to be holy. Verse 15 points in that same direction. “I am this, so be like me!”
Here’s the problem with that: being holy is hard. We don’t necessarily even know how to do it, because to be holy you have to know and understand God really well. Otherwise we’re just practicing self-righteousness, and not Christ’s righteousness.
Here though, there’s a new wrinkle to the story. In this translation, the text reads, “you will be holy, because I am holy.” See the difference? Suddenly, we don’t have a command. Instead we have a promise – a promise that flows from the grace at the very heart of God’s character: “Place your hope completely on the grace that will be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed.”
Holiness is not something we can achieve. It never was! Holiness simply doesn’t flow from us; it can’t flow from us. The only reason we can say with confidence that we will ever be holy, is because we know God is holy.
By Joe Monahan
For Pondering & Prayer
When you consider what it means to “be holy” or to “live a holy life,” what words, images or ideas come to mind? Can you believe that holiness is a gift and promise of God – or do you believe it’s something you work to achieve? Or is the truth somewhere in between?
Prayer: Gracious God, thank you for giving us promises where many of us are likely to hear only commands. Thank you for sharing the grace of Jesus Christ with a world weary of religious self-righteousness. Amen.