Connect Group guide: We Are Holy
We Are Holy
If you missed hearing this talk in person you can listen again here.
Read 1 Peter 1: 3-15
Peter is writing to Christians around an area called Asia Minor, now a large part of modern day Turkey, to stand firm in their faith in the midst of social stigma and exclusion because of their refusal to follow the cultural and religious norms of that time.
To do that, Peter encourages them to ‘be holy’ (verses 15-16), a word that is loaded with significance.
The most helpful definition of holiness is through this idea of being ‘set apart’ or ‘distinctive’ for a specific purpose.
To be holy is to be set apart. To be distinct.
What are some of our own personal perceptions of holiness, or how holiness is portrayed in our culture?
Q: What does it mean for God to ‘be holy’ (verse 16)?
Throughout the Psalms, when God is described as holy, it’s paired with words like, beauty, goodness, majestic, wonder. In Isaiah 6, the qualifier for God’s holiness is that “the earth is full of his glory”.
God is holy because he is completely set apart from all other created beings as the creator and author of life and all of creation.
Like Israel’s purpose in the Old Testament, the church is to be set apart to carry God’s presence and reveal the glory – the holiness – of God to the world through the way we live. Peter uses the metaphor of ‘obedient children’ to encourage us to do that.
Read 1 Peter 1:14 (ESV)
“As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance”
Q: What are some of the ‘passions’ or ‘desires’ that Peter is encouraging us not to conform to?
Read this quote from Paul Kingsworth:
‘I grew up believing what all modern people are taught: that freedom meant lack of constraint. Orthodoxy taught me that this freedom was no freedom at all, but enslavement to the passions: a neat description of the first thirty years of my life. True freedom, it turns out, is to give up your will and follow God’s. To deny yourself. To let it come. I am terrible at this, but at least now I understand the path.’
Q: What do we think of when we hear the word ‘obedience’, and how does this compare with our culture’s view of freedom?
Q: A temptation for us is to think that to be loved by God, we must be obedient, rather than God’s love being the fuel for our obedience. How might we resist that temptation?
You might want to conclude with this encouragement:
As we start this new year, remember that the call to live a holy life is not something to be done begrudgingly, not as following a list of empty moralistic rules, and definitely not to earn God’s love – but to see it as a way of living that, at its core, is to reflect and align with the creator and redeemer of the world. It is knowing that you are his, and that you are loved. It is living a life for the one who gave his life for you.
Begin by reading Matthew 16:24-26 twice, then allow some space for silent reflection before praying.