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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."
1 Peter 1:1516
The call of God is the manifestation in time of His purpose in eternity: "Those he predestined, he also called" (Romans 8:30). Believers are the "called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28). In His call He reveals to us what His thoughts and His will are concerning us and what the life is to which He invites us. He makes clear to us what the hope of our calling is, and as we spiritually apprehend and enter into this, our life on earth will be the reflection of His purpose for us in eternity.
Scripture uses more than one word to indicate the object or aim of our calling, but none more frequently than what Peter speaks of in our text: God has called us to be holy as He is holy. Paul addresses believers twice as "called to be saints [holy]" (Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:2). "For God did not call us," he says, "to be impure, but to live a holy life" (1 Thessalonians 4:7). When he writes, "The God of peace, sanctify you through and through," he adds, "The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it" (1 Thessalonians 5:2324). The calling itself is spoken of as "a holy calling." The eternal purpose, of which the calling is the outcome, is also continually connected with holiness as its aim. "He chose us in him ... to be holy and blameless in his sight" (Ephesians 1:4). "From the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit" (2 Thessalonians 2:13). "Chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit" (1 Peter 1:2). The call is the unveiling of the purpose that the Father from eternity had set His heart upon: that we should be holy.
Without doubt, to know what God has called us to is of infinite importance. To misunderstand here could be fatal. You may have heard that God calls you to salvation or to happiness, to receive pardon or to obtain heaven. But have you ever noticed that all these were subordinate to His main purpose? It is to "salvation through sanctification"; to holiness first and foremost as the element in which salvation and heaven are to be found. The complaints of many Christians as to a lack of joy and strength, of failure and lack of growth, are due to the fact that they have not given holiness the place that God gives it.
No wonder Paul, when he spoke to the Ephesians about being "chosen to be holy," prayed for the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of God to be given to each believer that he might know the hope to which he has been called (Ephesians 1:1718). Let all of us who now see to what we are called pray this prayer and ask God to show us that just as He who called us is holy, so we are to be also. Our calling, before and above everything else, is to holiness. Let us ask Him to show us what holiness is: first His, and then ours; to show us how He has set His heart upon it as the one thing He wants to see in us: His own image and likeness. Oh, that God by His Spirit would teach all of us what this calling means! It is easy to conceive what an influence it would have.
"Just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do" (1 Peter 1:15). This call of God shows us the true motive behind His command: "Be holy, because I am holy" (1 Peter 1:16). It is as if God said, "Holiness is my glory: without it you cannot see me or enjoy me; there is nothing higher to be had. I invite you to share my likeness." Does this attract you and move you deeply—the hope of being partakers of His holiness? There is nothing better He could offer you. Shouldn't we cry to God to show us the glory of His holiness, that our souls may be made willing to give everything to respond to this wonderful call?
His call also shows the nature of true holiness. To be holy is to be Godlike, to have a disposition, a will, a character like God. The thought almost looks like blasphemy, until we listen again: "He chose us in him ... to be holy" (Ephesians 1:4). In Christ the holiness of God appeared in a human life, in His own life here on earth. We have the holiness of the Invisible One translated into the forms of human life and conduct. To be Christlike is to be Godlike; to be Christlike is to be holy as God is holy.
The call equally reveals the power of holiness. "There is none holy but the Lord"; there is no holiness but what He has, or rather what He is and shares. The quality is not something we do or attain by our own power: it is the communication of the divine life, the inbreathing of the divine nature, the power of the divine presence resting on us. And our power to become holy is to be found in the call of God: the Holy One calls us to himself that He may make us holy by possessing himself. He not only says, "I am holy," but "I am the Lord, who makes you holy" (Leviticus 22:32). Because the call comes from the God of infinite power and love, we may have confidence that we can be holy.
The call no less reveals the standard of holiness. There is not one standard for God and another for man. The nature of light is the same whether we see it in the sun or in a candle; the nature of holiness remains unchanged whether it dwells in God or in man. The Lord Jesus could say nothing less than "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Matthew 5:48). When God calls us to holiness, He calls us to himself and His own life. The more carefully we listen to His voice and let the fact sink into our hearts, the more will all human standards fall away and only His words remain.
The call shows us the path of holiness. The calling of God is one of efficacy, an effectual calling. Listen to Him and with divine power the call will work what it offers. He calls the things that are not as though they were. His call gives life to the dead and holiness to those whom He has made alive. He calls us to listen as He speaks of His holiness, and of ours like His. He calls us to himself, to study, to fear, to love, to claim His holiness. He calls us to Christ, in whom divine holiness became human holiness, to see and admire, to desire and accept what is all for us. He calls us to the indwelling and the teaching of the Spirit of holiness, to yield ourselves that He may bring home to us and breathe within us what is ours in Christ. Believer, listen to God calling you to holiness; come and learn what His holiness is, what yours is, and what it should be.
Be silent and listen. When God called Abraham, he answered, "Here am I" (Genesis 22:1). When God called Moses from the bush, he answered, "Here am I" (Exodus 3:4) and hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God. God is calling you to himself, the Holy One, that He may make you holy. Let your whole soul answer, "Here am I, Lord! Speak to me. Show yourself to me." As you listen, the voice will be clear: "Be holy, as I am holy. Be holy, for I am holy." You will hear a voice coming out of eternity, from the council chamber of redemption. You will hear a voice from heaven, the Creator making the seventh day holy for man whom He had created, and saying, "Be holy." You will hear the voice from Sinai amid thunder and lightning, and still it is the same: "Be holy, as I am holy." You will hear a voice from Calvary: "Be holy, for I am holy."
Child of God, have you ever heard this call from God? Shouldn't we confess that happiness has been to us more than holiness, and salvation more than sanctification? But it is not too late to redeem the error. Listen to the voice that calls, draw close, and find out what holiness is, or better, find out and know Him who is the Holy One. If the first approach to Him fills us with shame and confusion, makes us fear and hold back, let us still listen to the voice that tells us to be holy, as He is holy. "The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it" (1 Thessalonians 5:24). All our fears and questions will be met by this One who has revealed His holiness with one purpose in view: that we might share it with Him. As we yield ourselves in the deep quietness of our soul to listen to the voice that calls us, it will awaken within us a new desire and strong faith to be holy.
O Lord, the only Holy One, you have called us to be holy, even as you are holy! Lord, how can we, unless you reveal to us your holiness? Show us how you are holy, how holy you are, and what your holiness is, that we may know how we are to be holy and how holy we are to be. And when the sight of you shows us how unholy we are, teach us that you make those partakers of your own holiness who come to you for it.
O God, we come to you, the Holy One. It is in knowing and finding and having you that the soul finds holiness. We come to beseech you to burn into our heart that the one object of your calling us and of our coming to you is holiness. You would have us be like yourself, partakers of your holiness. If ever our heart fears that this is too high to attain or rests content with a salvation less than holiness, blessed God, let us hear your voice calling again, "Be holy, for I am holy." Let that call be our motivation and our strength, because faithful is He that calls, who also will do it. Let that call mark our standard and our path.
1. Let me press upon every reader of this book that if it is to help him in the pursuit of holiness, he must begin with God himself. You must go to Him who calls you. It is only in the personal revelation of God to you as He speaks, "I am holy," that the command "Be holy" can have life or power.
2. Remember, as a believer you have already accepted God's call, even though you did not fully understand it. Let it be a settled matter that whatever you see to be the meaning of the call, you will at once accept and carry out. If God calls you to be holy, then you will be holy.
3. Take a firm grasp of the Word: "The God of peace sanctify you through and through...The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it."
4. Be still and listen to your Father calling you. Ask for and count upon the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of holiness, to open your heart to understand this holy calling. And then speak boldly your answer to this call.
The Path to Holiness by Andrew Murray
Copyright © 1984, 2001, Bethany House Publishers
Published by Bethany House Publishers
Used by permission. Unauthorized duplication prohibited.