The Identity of Holiness: You Are Set Apart for Such a Time as This

Peter wrote to the early Christians:

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires of your former ignorance. But as the One who called you is holy, you also are to be holy in all your conduct; for it is written, Be holy, because I am holy. (1 Peter 1:14-16, HCSB)

Holiness is not a popular concept these days. It’s also widely misunderstood: many people associate it with extrabiblical rules of the “don’t dance, don’t chew, and don’t go with girls who do” variety.

But holiness is central to the Christian life — and in times like these, its importance stands out most clearly.

At root, the word “holy” means to be set apart for God. It’s an identity and a calling, and it’s rooted in our relationship with God. Jesus said we are “in the world but not of it.” That’s holiness. We live here, but we exist for God, and we are set apart for his purposes.

I’ve been writing a lot about fear recently: specifically, about getting free from fear’s control.

An identity of holiness — I am chosen and set apart by God for God’s purposes — is absolutely central to that freedom. When we realize that we are holy, we shift our focus from our fears to our mission. We shift our gaze from the “giants in the land” to the God who is bigger than any giant, and who is holding our hand.

When we embrace holiness, we fear God more than we fear the world or anything in the world. We’re willing to stand out from the crowd, to go against the tide, and to love God and our neighbor no matter the risks.

Since we no longer look to the world to tell us who we are, the world can’t shake our identity. In a very real sense, when we are holy, there is nothing in the world to be afraid of.

So today I want to remind you:

God has called you, chosen you, and set you apart for his purposes.

Be holy, for he is holy.


I’ve written extensively holiness and fear in Fearless: Free in Christ in an Age of Anxiety. Check it out!


Photo by Dan Meyers on Unsplash



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