In the foregoing verse the apostle had given this pertinent and comprehensive exhortation: ''As he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation." The holiness here required is universal, in the whole of our disposition and behaviour; not only in some instances, but in every thing, " in all manner of conversation:" inwardly, in all our thoughts; outwardly, in all our actions, both towards God and man. Not only talk of holiness, but follow it, in every station and connection in life; not only at particular times and seasons, but at all times, and in all places ; in the closet, in the family, in the church, and in the world.
It is then added, "Because it is written, Be ye holy, for I am holy." This seems to be a reference to Lev. 11. 44. We here see the harmony there is between the prophets of the Old and the apostles of the New Testament: they speak the same language, and mind the same thing. One inspired writer confirms what he says by the testimony of other inspired writers, so that out of the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. Peter does not plead his own authority as an apostle, which he might have done, but appeals to the Scriptures as the standard of truth. We also see that the doctrine of Scripture is a doctrine according to godliness, and that its leading design is to promote it. One of the earliest patriarchs is called "a preacher of righteousness," and all right preaching will have the same tendency.
2. As to its different stages and degrees. The principle of holiness is introduced in regeneration, and is afterwards exemplified in all the duties and graces of the Christian life.
3. Holiness may be considered in reference to its objects. With respect to the most high God it implies an imitation of him, and a conformity to him; that we aim at his glory, and employ all our powers in his service. In short, it implies that we seek all from him resign all to him, and seek in all things to please him' Hence it is called "holiness unto the Lord". ... In reference to the divine law it implies a complacency and delight in it, on account of its purity and spirituality. ... As it respects duties, holiness will lead to a ready compliance ...
4. It may be considered as to its effects. It is like the ointment of the right hand, which betrayed itself. When assaulted with temptation, the holy man will say, "How shall I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?" If invited to spiritual exercises, or drawing near to God, his soul will readily fall in with it: "When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said, Thy face, Lord, will I seek." ....
2. God is holy, and therefore those only who are so can truly serve him. " Let us have grace," says the apostle, "whereby we may serve him acceptably, with reverence and godly fear."
3. God is holy, and without holiness it is impossible to please him in any thing we do. He requires truth in the inward parts, and without this nothing can be acceptable.
4. God is holy, and unless we be so too, we cannot be owned or acknowledged by him. He will not consider those as sons who bear no resemblance to him.
5. God is holy, and we must be holy in order to enjoy him. " For what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness; what communion hath light with darkness; and what concord hath Christ with Belial?"