"But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy" (1 Peter 1:15 - 16).
Today people are willing to debate how a Christian should behave. This is something that has never happened in the past 2,000 years since Calvary. Instead, the way that a person was to live a pure, holy life was simply assumed.
If you were to actually look back at the requirements of all the major denominations you may actually be shocked to learn that there were some strict consequences in place for church members whose lives brought shame and reproach to the name of Christ. In fact, it wasn't all that uncommon to hear of members who were barred from membership for a period of time based upon what type of offense they committed. This was different from preventing them from attending church services. Instead, it simply meant that they weren't allowed to enjoy the privileges of their church membership.
Starting in the 1960s there was an overall rebellion that swept across the United States. The hippie generation that existed during that time also started to affect what was going on within the church itself. At this time, there was a teaching that took root that held Christians to specific standards of behavior whenever it came to things like modesty, as well as abstaining from both alcohol and cigarettes. Many people started to refer to this as "legalism."
The real definition of the word "legalism" has to do with requiring good works as a condition of "being saved." Today, there are a lot of religions that actually teach this. For instance, Islam teaches that in order to be saved you must do certain things. Mormonism also believes the same thing. Whenever one of my friends went to a Mormon Church website to chat with someone about their questions, they asked the Mormon about how they felt in regards to salvation. The Mormon answered that the church believes that both faith and works are needed for a person to be saved. This is nothing short of legalism.
In the Bible, Peter plainly stated that God commands us to be holy because He is holy. Does that mean that Peter was a legalist who wished to impose his beliefs upon other people? This really doesn't make any sense, especially when you stop to consider that Peter knew Jesus personally whenever Jesus was alive on Earth. In fact, it wouldn't be wrong to consider that Paul may have known more about what God expected of people than those who don't think there's any need to be holy.
God doesn't suggest that we be holy, He commands that we be holy. Holiness doesn't have anything to do with salvation. The Bible clearly states that works, including holy living, doesn't have anything to do with salvation. Of course, this doesn't mean we shouldn't live holy lives. In fact, not living a holy life means that you don't love God because you can't love Him while disobeying his commandments.
Haven't you known that holiness is so critical concerning living a life pleasing to God? Holy living is not a suggestion; instead, we are commanded in the word of God according to 1 Peter 1:15 to live that kind of life. Holiness is so important up to the point that no one will see God without it. That is why it is very important that we as believer to do our best to submit our whole being to God moment by moment to sanctification, so that we can live the type of life he desires us to live. See what is sanctification.