“You shall be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16)
“The hand that points us to holiness is the hand that extends its grace to make us holy; by pointing us upward it lifts us upward. Thus the plea is cut off: “I am not able to be holy.” The call to be holy implies that we still lack complete holiness, but also that we are able to overcome this lack by grace. This call spurs us on to use God’s grace to the fullest extent in every part of our conduct so as to make it pleasing to the Holy One… the requirement of holiness is fundamental for God’s children in both Testaments. What God asked of Israel when he made that people his own he now asks and must ask of us whom he has called by Jesus Christ. God does not connive at sin and unholy living since forgiveness has come through Christ. Let no one think he can remain among the children of obedience while he still fashions his conduct according to the old lusts. Only the pure in heart shall see God, and without holiness it is impossible to see him. Christ died, not to save us in our sins, but from our sins.”
R.C.H. Lenski, The Interpretation of The Epistles of St. Peter, St. John and St. Jude (Columbus: Wartburg Press, 1956), 56-57. Lenski’s helpful application here to our responsibility for the pursuit of holiness should not be understood as intimating a doctrine of perfectionism. Rather it emphasizes the biblical imperative to use the God-given means of grace to grow in holiness, looking to Christ, knowing that it is he who works in us to will and to do his good pleasure, and that it is he who, through his gracious work of glorification, and resurrection, will complete the good work begun in us.