Reading: “…As obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:14–16
David Brainerd is best remembered as the outstanding missionary to the American Indians in the mid 1700s. During those years he laboured, in what one writer has described as “the untamed American frontier.” As a young man serving God, Brainerd battled against depression, loneliness, physical sickness, and the many hardships of those early settlement times. Yet despite every difficulty Brainerd threw himself body, soul, and mind into this great work. He was untiring in his zeal, undaunted by the problems, immoveable in his work, and unshaken in his resolve to serve his God.
When Brainerd came towards the end of his life (he died when he was 29), he made this comment: “There was nothing of any importance to me but holiness of life and heart, and the conversion of the Indians to God.” Those words and their particular order, summarize David Brainerd’s life. He was a man who was zealous to serve God, zealous to preach the gospel, zealous to redeem the time, zealous to rescue the lost, and zealous as a missionary, but his first concern as a believer was to live a holy life. He knew that there could be no usefulness for God if there was no holiness unto God.
Holiness is the first thing. And therefore every Christian has a solemn responsibility. We must be obedient unto God and order our lives in accordance with His word. The Christian must not fall into the snare of saying, “Whatever will be, will be.” We have a duty to obey, an ongoing duty to walk in step with the gospel. The believer is to strive after holiness, pursue it, be consistent, run in the way of holiness, and give himself to it in all places and at all times.
“In Sanctification the will of the believer is rendered more and more conformable to the will of God. In this the essence of holiness consists.” (John Dick, Lectures on Theology, 3:431)