“Become Holy Yourselves in All Your Conduct”
“In accord with the Holy One who called you, do you also become holy yourselves in all your conduct, because it is written: ‘You must be holy, because I am holy.’”—1 PETER 1:15, 16.
1. Why did Peter call on Christians to be holy?
WHY did the apostle Peter give the above counsel? Because he saw the need for each Christian to guard his thoughts and actions in order to keep them in line with Jehovah’s holiness. Thus, he preceded the above words by saying: “Brace up your minds for activity, keep your senses completely . . . As obedient children, quit being fashioned according to the desires you formerly had in your ignorance.”—1 Peter 1:13, 14.
2. Why were our desires unholy before we learned the truth?
2 Our former desires were unholy. Why? Because many of us followed a worldly course of action before we accepted the Christian truth. Peter knew this when he plainly wrote: “The time that has passed by is sufficient for you to have worked out the will of the nations when you proceeded in deeds of loose conduct, lusts, excesses with wine, revelries, drinking matches, and illegal idolatries.” Of course, Peter did not name unholy acts peculiar to our modern world, since they were then unknown.—1 Peter 4:3, 4.
3, 4. (a) How can we counteract wrong desires? (b) Do Christians have to be unemotional? Explain.
3 Did you notice that these desires are those that appeal to the flesh, to the senses, and to the emotions? When we allow these to take over, then our thoughts and actions very easily become unholy. This illustrates the need to let the power of reason control our actions. Paul expressed it this way: “Consequently I entreat you by the compassions of God, brothers, to present your bodies a sacrifice living, holy, acceptable to God, a sacred service with your power of reason.”—Romans 12:1, 2.
4 To present to God a holy sacrifice, we must let the power of reason, not the emotions, dominate. How many have been swept into immorality because they allowed their feelings to control their conduct! That does not mean that our emotions have to be suppressed; otherwise, how could we express joy in Jehovah’s service? However, if we want to produce the fruitage of the spirit rather than the works of the flesh, then we must make our minds over to Christ’s way of thinking.—Galatians 5:22, 23; Philippians 2:5.
Holy Life, Holy Price
5. Why was Peter conscious of the need for holiness?
5 Why was Peter so conscious of the need for Christian holiness? Because he was well aware of the holy price that had been paid to redeem obedient humankind. He wrote: “You know that it was not with corruptible things, with silver or gold, that you were delivered from your fruitless form of conduct received by tradition from your forefathers. But it was with precious blood, like that of an unblemished and spotless lamb, even Christ’s.” (1 Peter 1:18, 19) Yes, the Source of holiness, Jehovah God, had sent his only-begotten Son, “the Holy One,” to earth to pay the ransom that would allow people to have a good relationship with God.—John 3:16; 6:69; Exodus 28:36; Matthew 20:28.
6. (a) Why is it not easy for us to pursue holy conduct? (b) What can help us to keep our conduct holy?
6 However, we have to recognize that it is not easy to lead a holy life while in the midst of Satan’s corrupt world. He lays snares for true Christians, who are trying to survive in his system of things. (Ephesians 6:12; 1 Timothy 6:9, 10) The pressures of secular work, of family opposition, of ridicule at school, and of peer pressure make strong spirituality essential for one to retain holiness. That emphasizes the vital role of our personal study and our regular attendance at Christian meetings. Paul counseled Timothy: “Keep holding the pattern of healthful words that you heard from me with the faith and love that are in connection with Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 1:13) We hear those health-giving words at our Kingdom Hall and in our private study of the Bible. They can help us to be holy in our conduct on a daily basis in many different settings.
Holy Conduct in the Family
7. How should holiness affect our family life?
7 When Peter quoted Leviticus 11:44, he used the Greek word haʹgi·os, which means “separated from sin and therefore consecrated to God, sacred.” (An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, by W. E. Vine) How should this affect us in our Christian family life? It must certainly mean that our family life should be based on love, for “God is love.” (1 John 4:8) Self-sacrificing love is the oil that lubricates the relationships between spouses and between parents and children.—1 Corinthians 13:4-8; Ephesians 5:28, 29, 33; 6:4; Colossians 3:18, 21.
8, 9. (a) What situation sometimes develops in a Christian home? (b) What sound counsel does the Bible give on this matter?
8 We might think that expressing such love would be automatic in a Christian family. Yet, it has to be admitted that love does not always reign to the degree it should in some Christian homes. It might appear to do so at the Kingdom Hall, but how easily our holiness might diminish in the domestic setting. Then we might suddenly forget that the wife is still our Christian sister or that the husband is still the same brother (and perhaps a ministerial servant or an elder) that appeared to be respected at the Kingdom Hall. Nerves get on edge, and heated arguments can develop. A double standard could even creep into our lives. It is no longer a Christlike husband and wife relationship but just a man and a woman in contention. They forget that there should be a holy atmosphere in the home. Perhaps they begin to sound like worldly people. How easily a nasty, cutting remark can then proceed from the mouth!—Proverbs 12:18; compare Acts 15:37-39.
9 However, Paul counsels: “Let a rotten saying [Greek, loʹgos sa·prosʹ, “defiling speech,” therefore unholy] not proceed out of your mouth, but whatever saying is good for building up as the need may be, that it may impart what is favorable to the hearers.” And that refers to all the hearers in the home, including the children.—Ephesians 4:29; James 3:8-10.
10. How does counsel on holiness apply to children?
10 Now this guideline on holiness applies equally to the children in a Christian family. How easy it is for them to come home from school and start imitating the rebellious and disrespectful talk of their worldly peers! Children, do not gravitate to the attitudes shown by the uncouth boys who insulted Jehovah’s prophet and who have their foul-mouthed, blasphemous parallels today. (2 Kings 2:23, 24) Your speech should not be defiled by the crude street language of people too lazy or inconsiderate to use decent words. As Christians, our speech should be holy, pleasant, upbuilding, kind, and “seasoned with salt.” It should distinguish us as different from other people.—Colossians 3:8-10; 4:6.
Holiness and Our Unbelieving Family Members
11. Why does being holy not mean being self-righteous?
11 While we conscientiously try to practice holiness, we should not appear to be superior and self-righteous, especially when dealing with unbelieving family members. Our kind Christian conduct should at least help them to see that we are different in a positive way, that we do know how to show love and compassion, even as did the good Samaritan of Jesus’ illustration.—Luke 10:30-37.
12. How can Christian spouses make the truth more appealing to their mates?
12 Peter emphasized the importance of a proper attitude toward our unbelieving family members when he wrote to Christian wives: “In like manner, you wives, be in subjection to your own husbands, in order that, if any are not obedient to the word, they may be won without a word through the conduct of their wives, because of having been eyewitnesses of your chaste conduct together with deep respect.” A Christian wife (or husband for that matter) can make the truth more appealing to an unbelieving mate if her conduct is chaste, considerate, and respectful. This means that there should be flexibility in the theocratic schedule so that the unbelieving spouse is not snubbed or left out.*—1 Peter 3:1, 2.
13. How can elders and ministerial servants sometimes help unbelieving husbands to appreciate the truth?
13 Elders and ministerial servants can sometimes help by getting to know the unbelieving husband on a social level. In this way he may see that Witnesses are normal, decent people with a wide range of interests, including subjects other than the Bible. In one case, an elder took an interest in a husband’s fishing hobby. It was enough to break the ice. That husband eventually became a baptized brother. In another case, an unbelieving husband was fascinated by canaries. The elders were not defeated. One of them studied the subject so that the next time he met the man, he could open a conversation on that husband’s pet subject! Being holy, therefore, does not mean being straitlaced or having a one-track mind.—1 Corinthians 9:20-23.
How Can We Be Holy in the Congregation?
14. (a) What is one of Satan’s methods for undermining the congregation? (b) How can we resist Satan’s snare?
14 Satan the Devil is a slanderer, for the Greek name for Devil, di·aʹbo·los, means “accuser” or “slanderer.” Slander is one of his specialties, and he tries to use it in the congregation. His favorite method is gossip. Do we allow ourselves to be his dupes in this unholy conduct? How could that be? By initiating it, by repeating it, or by listening to it. The wise proverb states: “A man of intrigues keeps sending forth contention, and a slanderer is separating those familiar with one another.” (Proverbs 16:28) What is the antidote to gossip and slander? We should make sure that our speech is always upbuilding and based on love. If we look for the virtues rather than the supposed vices of our brothers, our conversation will always be pleasant and spiritual. Remember that criticism is easy. And the person who gossips to you about others may also gossip to others about you!—1 Timothy 5:13; Titus 2:3.
15. What Christlike qualities will help to keep all in the congregation holy?
15 In order to keep the congregation holy, all of us need to have the mind of Christ, and we know that his dominant quality is love. Thus, Paul counseled the Colossians to be compassionate like Christ: “Accordingly, as God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, clothe yourselves with the tender affections of compassion, kindness, lowliness of mind, mildness, and long-suffering . . . , forgiving one another freely . . . Besides all these things, clothe yourselves with love, for it is a perfect bond of union.” Then he added: “Also, let the peace of the Christ control in your hearts.” Surely with this forgiving spirit, we can maintain the unity and the holiness of the congregation.—Colossians 3:12-15.
Does Our Holiness Show in Our Neighborhood?
16. Why should our holy worship be happy worship?
16 What about our neighbors? How do they view us? Do we radiate the joy of the truth, or do we make it look like a burden? If we are holy even as Jehovah is holy, then it should be evident in our speech and in our conduct. It should be clear that our holy worship is happy worship. Why is that? Because Jehovah our God is a happy God, who wants his worshipers to be joyful. Thus, the psalmist could say about Jehovah’s people in ancient times: “Happy is the people whose God is Jehovah!” Do we reflect that happiness? Do our children also manifest contentment in being among Jehovah’s people at the Kingdom Hall and at assemblies?—Psalm 89:15, 16; 144:15b.
17. What can we do in a practical way to show balanced holiness?
17 We can also show our balanced holiness by our spirit of cooperation and neighborly kindness. Sometimes it is necessary for neighbors to pull together, perhaps to clean up the neighborhood or, as in some countries, to help improve the roads and highways. In this regard, our holiness can be evident in how we care for our gardens, yards, or other property. If we leave garbage lying around or have an untidy or unkempt yard, perhaps even with old broken-down vehicles for all to see, can we say that we are treating our neighbors with respect?—Revelation 11:18.
Holiness at Work and at School
18. (a) What is a predicament for Christians today? (b) How can we be different from the world?
18 The apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in the unholy city of Corinth: “In my letter I wrote you to quit mixing in company with fornicators, not meaning entirely with the fornicators of this world or the greedy persons and extortioners or idolaters. Otherwise, you would actually have to get out of the world.” (1 Corinthians 5:9, 10) This is a predicament for Christians, who must mix on a daily basis with immoral or amoral people. This is a great test of integrity, especially in cultures where sexual harassment, corruption, and dishonesty are encouraged or condoned. In this setting we cannot afford to lower our standards so as to appear “normal” to those around us. Rather, our kind but different Christian conduct should make us stand out to discerning people, to those who recognize their spiritual need and who are looking for something better.—Matthew 5:3; 1 Peter 3:16, 17.
19. (a) What tests do you children have at school? (b) What can parents do to support their children and their holy conduct?
19 Likewise, there are many tests facing our children at school. Do you parents visit the school your children attend? Do you know what kind of atmosphere prevails there? Do you have a rapport with the teachers? Why are these questions important? Because in many urban areas of the world, schools have become jungles of violence, drugs, and sex. How can your children keep their integrity and their conduct holy if they do not get the full sympathetic support of their parents? Rightly Paul counseled parents: “You fathers, do not be exasperating your children, so that they do not become downhearted.” (Colossians 3:21) One way to exasperate children is to fail to understand their daily problems and tests. Preparation for the temptations at school begins in the spiritual atmosphere of a Christian home.—Deuteronomy 6:6-9; Proverbs 22:6.
20. Why is holiness essential for all of us?
20 In conclusion, why is holiness essential for all of us? Because it serves as a protection against the inroads of Satan’s world and thinking. It is a blessing now and will be in the future. It helps to guarantee us the life that will be the real life in the new world of righteousness. It helps us to be balanced, approachable, communicative Christians—not relentless fanatics. In short, it makes us Christlike.—1 Timothy 6:19.
For further information on tactful relations with unbelieving mates, see The Watchtower of August 15, 1990, “Do Not Neglect Your Mate!” pages 20-2 and November 1, 1988, pages 24-5, paragraphs 20-2.
Do You Remember?
□ Why did Peter see the need to counsel Christians on holiness?
□ Why is it not easy to lead a holy life?
□ What can all of us do to improve holiness in the family?
□ For the congregation to remain holy, what unholy conduct should we avoid?
□ How can we remain holy at work and at school?
[Pictures on page 16, 17]
As Jehovah’s Witnesses, we should be joyful in serving God and in other activities