You be holy for I am holy. (Leviticus 11:44, I Peter 1:16)
by Dr. Bill Ury
National Ambassador for Holiness
You Be Holy — Everyone who desires to know why we exist, why we are, bumps into mystery. The only reasonable answers come from the Word of God. Our Creator reveals His divine purpose for our being. What He desires is something we cannot produce. Being made holy requires Someone outside of me bringing into me what I am not.
Notice that God starts with His vision for us before He talks about Himself. True Holiness is always self-giving. He always is thinking about you before Himself. Only One who is holy can give holiness.
We talk about an experience of holiness, but holiness is much more than our feelings or choices. It is the most personal, intimate, transformative relationship you or I can ever know. The Holy One will never leave the receptive person, you, confused about our created purpose.
For — There are a lot of important, large theological words in the Bible. I have found that everything hinges on the small words. Words like “but” or “and” or “as.” The same is true with “for” here. It might be clearer to use the word “because” here instead. I am because He is. Being holy must be drawn from His holiness. That alleviates me of any wrong conceptions of who I am in the logic of salvation.
Any holiness I may know is only of Him, from Him, through Him, because of Him.
Whatever I may think holiness is or isn’t, the only thing that matters is Who is holy. Any command of God or offer of His holy love to me is based first in the fact of who He is, not on who I may think I am. To believe there is something good inherent in me is to already miss the Gospel and the gracious God who is Love and offers His holy love to me. The word “holy” defines my created being.
My sole purpose is to be filled with Him. Any holiness I may know is only of Him, from Him, through Him, because of Him. The Holy One is the cause, and any holiness in me is the effect of His presence.
I am Holy — His loving logic is clear: “I am” holy. It is not “He is” holy. To miss the startling intimacy of the offer would be tragic. He is only interested in a “you” and “I” relationship. The Holy One desires a first-person union with you. Only the “I am” is holy. What He is by nature is what He makes us.
We reduce holiness to an experience, or a doctrine, or a denominational distinctive. God is not interested in our small definitions.
We try to deny our being can ever be holy. We make all kinds of excuses normally focused on our sinfulness, brokenness and selfishness. But notice, the only Holy One unmistakably informs us of who He can make us to be, whatever baggage we bring. God says to anyone willing to respond, “I am what I want you to be.” The logic flows this way: I can make you to be holy because I am the source of all holiness. The Triune God tells us the meaning of human existence in this short astounding promise of Himself.
The problem is that for most of us holiness is something that happens to us. We reduce holiness to an experience, or a doctrine, or a denominational distinctive. God is not interested in our small definitions. He wants us to allow Him to pour His freely shared nature into our hearts and lives. Do you know why you exist? The God of Holy Love wants you to be like Himself. Impossible? Not to the One who made all things, especially you!