James Nisbet Commentary - 1 Peter 1:16 - 1:16

Online Resource Library

Commentary Index | Return to PrayerRequest.com | Download

James Nisbet Commentary - 1 Peter 1:16 - 1:16

(Show All Books | Show All Chapters)

This Chapter Verse Commentaries:


‘Be ye holy; for I am Holy.’


The question at once meets us, ‘What is holiness?’ The original word, which we have translated ‘holiness,’ means ‘without earthliness.’ We are ‘of the earth, earthy’; the contrast to holiness, so that, more practically, God only is holiness. He, and He only, is ‘Holy’; and everything else is ‘holy’ just as it connects itself with Him: that which is dedicated to Him, that which has Him in it, that which is like Him, that which serves Him—that is ‘holy.’ Heaven is the ‘holy of holies,’ because heaven combines all these; and nothing can enter there which is not ‘holy.’ Holiness is one of the signs of being a saint—a saint on earth, and a saint in heaven.

I address myself now to those who feel that they are not ‘holy,’ or, if holy at all, much more unholy, and who ask, ‘How shall I be “holy”? How shall I become one of the holy family?’

I. It is the province of the Holy Ghost to make you so.—There is no other way in the world. And if you do not recognise and use that well, looking to the Holy Ghost, every effort you can make will be a failure. It is His province, and He Himself must do it. It is His prerogative. It is His business. It is His work. He and He only makes ‘holiness.’

II. The next step to be ‘holy’ is to at once give up and conquer anything—however dear, however pleasant—which your conscience now tells you is incompatible with ‘holiness,’ and which makes you, if not hate God, yet certainly, in feelings, unholy!

III. Recognise your unholiness more—however good, or however small, in anything you allow. The very sense of your unholiness shows there is a token for good, which God has given you, and you must work it out: ‘Lord, Thou hast not quite left me. Thou hast, in Thy mercy, given me this feeling, that I am a sinner. Now give me more. Give me more. Do Thine own work, Lord, in my soul, and do Thou guide me.’

IV. Undertake some special means or step to holiness.—More prayer. Could not you go to your room, in the middle of the day, and have a little prayer? Could not you be in the ‘spirit of prayer’ everywhere?—those silent prayers, even in the midst of business! More earnest prayer, more personal prayer, in the closet and everywhere! More faithful dealings with your own soul! More real study of your Bible in secret communion with God? Could not you just fancy yourself sitting at the foot of the Cross, and looking up to that dear Lord, as bleeding there, till the very sight of Him brings ‘holiness’ from us?

V. Cultivate some religious companion.—Look around you, and see; and make, if you can, one, one real, religious friend. It will be a great help to you.

VI. Undertake some work at once.—Some work expressly for God—for His poor, for His children, for His Church—done with a purer and higher motive than before, for His sake.

VII. Pay more attention to your public and religious duties.—Take the Holy Communion more regularly, and with more faith and expectation of what you are going to find there.

VIII. Deal with your conscience.—Be scrupulous in the little things, the trifles, of life. Let your family, and your servants, and your whole household, have cause to see, and say that you are endeavouring to be a better Christian, and more like your Master. And you will find it a very good thing to take an interest in somebody’s soul, somebody’s soul!


‘The nature of man makes resemblance to God possible. It is a sublime truth that there is such resemblance between God and our poor hearts that even in our fallen condition there is enough of the Divine image left upon us for us to hear this heavenly voice and to know that it has a triumphant message even for us. We are not so smitten but that these words appeal to our conscience and are verified by our experience. It is possible for us to yield ourselves unto God, because He is God, and we are made in His likeness.’