Let us look at what was written by Robert Murray McCheyne to the Rev. Dan Edwards on 2 October 1840 after his ordination as a missionary to the Jews:
‘I trust you will have a pleasant and profitable time in Germany. I know you will apply hard to German; but do not forget the culture of the inner man,—I mean of the heart. How diligently the cavalry officer keeps his sabre clean and sharp; every stain he rubs off with the greatest care.
‘Remember you are God’s sword,—His instrument,—I trust a chosen vessel unto Him to bear His name. In great measure, according to the purity and perfections of the instrument, will be the success. It is not great talents God blesses so much as great likeness to Jesus. A holy minister is an awful weapon in the hand of God.’ – Robert McCheyne to Dan Edwards, 1840
This idea of holiness is something that escapes us. We see it as something God is, but we don’t see it as something we are.
1 Peter 2:9 ESV But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
However, we look in the mirror and we say, “I’m not holy.”
And to be honest, if the mirror is all you have, then you are right. You and I are NOT holy because of what is in the mirror.
To really understand this idea of holiness, we must go back to the Old Testament. Israel was chosen by God as a holy nation or a “set apart” nation.
God gives Israel specific instructions in how to live and in these instructions regarding the temple, there were specific cleansing procedures to set items apart for sacred use. The holiness of God was intended to be on display in the lives of the people He had chosen.
Leviticus 19:2 ESV “Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.
Holiness is something given to us by God. It is maintained in us by His grace and we are called to walk in the ways commanded us as believers. Just as instruments were cleansed in the Old Testament for holy use, believers were cleansed by the cross for holy use.
We are not holy because we are great. We are made holy because God is great. Jesus is the sacrifice that made us holy and it is this that will allow us to enter a holy city before a holy God for all eternity. In declaring our holiness, it is not declaring our goodness. It is declaring God’s hand in our life.