Called to Holiness


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 person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear.

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.

I Peter 1:15-19

Legalism is when we seek to be accepted by God by our actions.

Holiness is when we change our actions because we have been accepted by God.

The distinction is important.

The first never works, the second is always worthy of our passions.

Concerning legalism, it is simply impossible to be good enough to earn favor with God or right relationship with Him. We have all sinned and fallen short of His standard. No amount of good deeds can overcome the sin inside us to reach the level of purity that God requires.

To demand strict obedience to a moral code in order to achieve an impossible end will always end in frustration, disillusionment, shame, and guilt.

Only through faith in Jesus can we find the forgiveness and righteousness that is required for acceptance from God, both now and for eternity. The Holy Spirit said it this way, “God made [Christ] who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

We are forgiven, accepted, and redeemed through our faith in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross and his resurrection three days later providing power over sin and death.


But this acceptance should result in our ruthless pursuit of holiness. Otherwise, we show contempt for it.

“Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?”

And make no mistake, the call onto our lives is strict obedience to God’s moral code:

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.” (I Peter 1:15-16)

It is easy to stop at “acceptance,” “forgiven,” “loved,” “saved by grace,” and fall into thinking that any call toward holiness and separation from the world is unnecessary or legalism. 

But our pursuit of God does not end at forgiveness. That is only the beginning. Our end is conformity to the image of His Son. May we direct all our passions toward it.


Heavenly Father, thank you for the gift of your Son and his sacrifice on the cross that provided forgiveness for my sin. Help me respond to your free grace appropriately. May your kindness move me each day toward holiness and righteousness. Amen.