But as He who called you is holy you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy.’ And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold—but with the precious blood of Christ. (1 Peter 1:15–19—NKJV)

While an irrational fear can be debilitating, a healthy fear is the fruit of discernment and wisdom. Healthy fear demands careful thoughtfulness, wise action, and respectful reverence. Healthy fear informs, protects and preserves. Healthy fear is a necessity for every growing Christian.

The stewardship of your earthly sojourn is to be exercised with a healthy respect in reverential fear of God. God is described in verse 15 as holy. The attributes of God, also known as the perfections or excellencies of God, include non-communicable attributes (God’s perfections that mankind cannot share, like omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence, and omnisapience) and communicable attributes (God’s perfections that mankind can share, like mercy, love, goodness, and faithfulness). Perhaps the hardest attribute for us to fully grasp is the holiness of God. It is included among the communicable attributes which God has created man to share.

The Greek word means to be set apart, consecrated. The attribute of holiness seems to stand at the head of all of His attributes and appears to be woven throughout all of the perfections of God. God is perfect in possessing all virtues and having no lack. It is this perfection that both Isaiah (6:3) and John (Revelation 4:8) emphasize as they record, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord!”

Peter chooses to quote God’s challenge to His people found in Leviticus 11:44, “Be holy, for I am holy.” Notice that the covenant-keeping Name of Jehovah is in the middle of the commandment. It is this command that strikes healthy fear in every believer’s heart for it is this perfect God who reviews every believer’s conduct. Verse 15 sites the level of the dedication to holiness to which every saint is called. Literally translated it would read, “Just as He who called you is holy (singular), you also become (enter into a new state) holy (plural, meaning in all your experiences) of conduct.” If you want to glorify God to the best of your ability, then emulate Him, and be like Him, in everything.

Verse 17 explains the ultimate goal of the believer’s lifelong stewardship: It is to be approved of God. The verse informs you that God’s judgment (to try in order to approve) is without partiality (God does not “receive face”) and He is immensely fair. Such fairness behooves every believer to not “rest on his laurels” but to pursue excellence in conduct with a holy fear. Vincent states that this appropriate fear of God is evidenced within your heart as “self distrust, tenderness of conscience, vigilance against temptation.” The Bible teaches every believer to be not high-minded but fear, to take heed lest you fall, to beware of the deceitfulness of your own heart, and fear inward corruption. Thank the Lord that He adjudicates with the intent to approve you or none would succeed!

Do not lose sight of the fact that God continues to invest His best in you, if you are assuredly born again. No one is eternally redeemed with anything short of the precious blood of Christ. The Greek term means costly, highly esteemed, and held in honor. The words Peter chose to use for silver and gold are diminutive terms—little silver coins, little gold coins—the price of slaves from a slave market. As the old preachers used to say, “God bankrupted heaven so that your soul may be saved.” God pours out His best upon you so that you may give Him your best. There is nothing paltry or parsimonious about His grace; there must be nothing sparing or begrudging in your striving to be holy.

In a day of moral relativism, where the rare man with steady convictions is increasingly out of step, it is imperative that you act always with a holy bearing. For the sake of the Lord’s testimony, and the generation that follows, you must obey the command to be “holy as I am holy.” Your Good Master desires to approve of your holy life which reflects His holiness. Trust and obey.