Holy is an interesting word. I always think of the 60’s Batman television show where every exclamation by Robin started with “holy” and your choice of a normal phrase that was intended to be a pun on the situation. Like “holy kidnappers, Batman” or “holy bank robbery, Batman”. So is Holy just an exclamation in a bad joke? The second thing I think of is the 70’s movie Monty Python and the quest for the Holy Grail that also included a skit with a holy hand grenade. In this scene King Arthur calls on the Church and all its formal rules to help him slay a wild animal that is terrorizing the adventurers. Maybe holy is just part of a funny joke at the expense of church formality? So what is Holy?
but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:15-16 ESV
What does it mean to be “holy”? Holy in all my conduct, does that mean being a good person? I need to be a holy roller? I know those people; holier than thou types. I do not want to be part of that group so I hope that is not what holy is all about. Peter is quoting what the Lord told Moses in Leviticus 19:2 we, the people of God, need to be holy because God is Holy. So maybe this means I need to be more like God. I need to be like God in my thinking and my actions. How can this be? I can’t be omniscient, or omnipresent. I can’t be like the atheist who thinks of himself as God. How can the imperfect and finite like me be like the perfect and infinite God?
Hold on it is time to dig deep. I need to know and understand what it means to be holy and to conduct life as holy if that is who God is and what he wants of me. The Hebrew word in Leviticus 19:2 for holy is קָדוֹשׁ (Qadowsh) and the root meaning is “set apart”. Let me retranslate 1 Peter 1:15-16 replacing “holy” with “set apart” and see if any new meaning comes to light.
but as he who called you is set apart, you also be set apart in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be set apart, for I am set apart.” 1 Peter 1:15-16
God has called me to be set apart in my conduct and He wants me to be set apart because He is set apart. “Set Apart” is an interesting phrase and since life is motion then that leads to the question “set apart for what purpose”? How do I conduct myself as set apart? Whatever that purpose is it must be very special since God has set himself apart.
How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant. Hebrews 9:14-15 NIV
The author of Hebrews tells us why God wants us to be set apart (holy). I am to be holy so that I may serve the living God. Jesus died to give me a new life and eternal inheritance. Jesus has set me free from my sins that caused my death and set me free for one purpose. That purpose is to be set apart to serve God now and for eternity.
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 1 Peter 2:9 ESV
Holy servant of God, Batman. My purpose in life is to serve God because he saved me? Maybe I need to reevaluate all that serving myself that is going on.