Discipleship and Holiness

Discipleship and Holiness

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Recently, I was re-reading the Life and Diary of David Brainerd. The personal and intimate diary describes many accounts and stories from the life of the Brainerd, an American missionary to various New England Amerindian tribes in the 18th century. The part that gripped me most was Brainerd’s longings for personal piety and his consecration to holiness. He wrote:


Oh for holiness! Oh for more of God in my soul! Oh this pleasing pain! It makes my soul press after God; the language of it is, ‘Then shall I be satisfied, when I awake in God’s likeness,’ (Ps 17:15) but never, never before: and consequently I am engaged to ‘press towards the mark’ day by day. O that I may feel this continual hunger, … to reach forward in the narrow way, for the full enjoyment and possession of the heavenly inheritance! O that I may never loiter in my heavenly journey!”


Here we see a man who demonstrated in private and hidden pages of his journal an enormous appetite for holiness. The truth is that I hear few Christians who today still hunger for that kind of holiness and separation unto the Lord. Yet the Bible tells us in 1 Peter 1:15-16 “…just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘“Be holy, because I am holy.”’ According to this scripture the disciple of Jesus can attain holiness in “all” that they do. It seems reasonable that a disciple should become more like the one they follow – and Jesus is holy! Furthermore, because God is holy, every time we sin we do something that God despises. Consequently, we need to cultivate hearts that share the same hatred of sin that God possesses. When a person claims to be a disciple and remains comfortable with sin, we can be quite certain that they are not walking intimately with the Lord. Peter goes on to say, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9) Notice, God sees you as “a chosen person” a “Priest”, part of a “holy nation and His special possession.” As such, a follower of Jesus must not take sin lightly!

There is an old saying, “you are what you eat.” The idea is that in order to be healthy you need to take in good food. Contrarily, consuming bad food leads to detrimental effects on your body. Eating Twinkies 24/7 may not kill you directly, but it may contribute to diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and many other disorders in your body the will inhibit your from living a long and fruitful life. The same is true if we want to live healthy, holy lives. We need to be conscious about what we allow into our lives. While removing all ungodly influences from your life would require exiting the planet (see 1 Cor. 5:9-10), there are many things that we can purposefully avoid in order to promote a healthier spiritual life. Many spiritual “Twinkies” or even poison come from the influences of friends, what we look at on the internet, how we spend our time, and the entertainment we choose to consume. In order to attain holiness disciples must eradicate some of these influences from their lives, and remain very selective of the types of things they consume spiritually.


Do you crave holiness? Does your heart inwardly long to be more like Christ similar to those longings of David Brainerd? If no longings for holiness exist, we need to more deeply contemplate how serious we are in following Jesus because Christ followers naturally long for holiness.