“Be ye holy; for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:16).

“I am persuaded that I shall obtain the highest amount of personal holiness, I shall do most for God’s glory and the good of men, and I shall have the fullest reward in eternity by maintaining a conscience always washed in the blood of Christ, by being filled with the Spirit at all times, and attaining the most entire likeness to Christ in my will and heart that it is possible for a redeemed sinner to attain in this world.” —Robert Murray M’Cheyne

“Revival must ever be related to holiness. True revival is a revival of holiness.”  — Duncan Campbell

It is impossible for the Holy Spirit to come upon a people without producing a burning desire for holy and righteous living. The amazing revival under Hezekiah in 2 Chronicles 29 illustrates this point. After repairing the doors (the access point) of the house of the Lord, Hezekiah gathered the priests and Levites together. His first instruction was “sanctify now yourselves.” The people God uses in revival must first be revived themselves. His next dictate was “carry forth the filthiness out of the holy place.” All manner of garbage and filth had polluted the “inner part of the house of the Lord.” It took these sanctified servants sixteen days to cleanse God’s house. A mountain of rubbish had accumulated due to neglect and disuse. The nation of Israel, God’s chosen people, had chosen to follow their fallen ways instead of the path God had prescribed for them. Consequently, a thorough housecleaning was necessary.

The instrument in revival does not have to be perfect, but he or she does have to be honest! God’s men and women must deal openly in transparent honesty about their sins in the white heat of God’s manifest presence. God knows the condition of our hearts better than we do. He is fully aware of all “filthiness” in our holy place. He knows our thoughts and motives, and searches the secret places in our souls. The candidate for revival is not seeking a dark place to hide; rather, he comes willingly to the Light. John Wesley declared in 1737: “My one aim in life is to secure personal holiness, for without being holy I cannot promote real holiness in others.” This was four years prior to his conversion!

Personal Holiness

The individuals God uses in revival have consecrated themselves fully to God. David Brainerd was among the North American Indians one night prior to one of their pagan festivals. He went off into the woods to be alone with God. He wrote concerning this experience: “All things here below vanished, and there appeared to be nothing of any considerable importance to me but holiness of heart and life, and the conversion of the heathen to God. All my cares, fears, and desires, which might be said to be of a worldly nature disappeared, and were, in my esteem, of little more importance than a puff of wind. I exceedingly longed that God would get to himself a name among the heathen, and I appealed to him, with the greatest freedom, that he knew I preferred him above my chief joy.” Men who are in vital union with God carry with them a spirit of holiness as well as urgency.

The Psalmist gave God permission to speak to him, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me” (Ps.139:23-24). Like the Psalmist we must issue an invitation to the Holy Spirit to turn His searchlight on our hearts. McCheyne, who saw revival in Dundee in 1839, prayed, “Lord, make me as holy as a saved sinner can be.”

In 1858 a minister in Aberdare wrote about the great need of revival. Among his suggestions as to how the revival might come, he wrote about the need for “a pure ministry and apostolic preaching.” He went on to say, “the awakening must start in the pulpit … the church must be in full sympathy with the ministry.” This godly man, along with many others, helped to pave the way for the mighty torrent that followed in 1859.

Morbid introspection is neither healthy nor helpful, but Holy Spirit inspection is imperative. There is no profit in conducting your own personal “witch hunt.” Man, apart from God’s Spirit, is simply incapable of diagnosing his true condition. Our job is simply to “walk in the light, as he is in the light” (1Jn. 1:7). As we do, “we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”

The Refiner’s Fire

In biblical times fire was an essential element in the refining process of precious metals like silver. Scripture speaks of “silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times” (Ps. 12:6). The metal smith would heat the silver ore until it liquefied. The silver, being heavier, would settle, and the impurities would surface. The smith would take a ladle and skim off the scum and then let the ore cool down. He would heat it hotter the second time and a different sort of filth would surface. Again these contaminants would be removed. This process was repeated seven times until the metal was so pure that the metal smith could see his own reflection in the purified liquid.

Could it be that this is precisely what God does in revival? In the white heat of God’s manifest presence, hearts are melted and hidden sin begins to surface. Things which are undetected under normal conditions stand out like BOLD PRINT when God is near. The humble saint admits his sin and finds forgiveness and cleansing. Repeated visits to the fountain of grace accelerate his growth in Christlikeness. “By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil” (Pro. 16:6).

We need now, more than ever, for God to bring such a purging and cleansing to our personal lives and our churches. To find it, we must be willing to walk in the light and let the Holy Spirit inspect our hearts.

Questions to Ponder

  1. Is it possible for the Holy Spirit to come upon someone without producing a burning desire for holy, righteous living?
  2. What was Hezekiah’s first instruction after repairing the doors of the house of the Lord?
  3. What had polluted the “inner part of the house of the Lord”?
  4. What is the main quality the instrument of revival needs to possess?
  5. Who declared in 1737, “My own aim in life is to secure personal holiness”?
  6. According to the chapter, who served among the North American Indians?
  7. What do those who engage in vital union with God carry with them?
  8. Who prayed, “Lord, make me as holy as a saved sinner can be”?
  9. According to the chapter, what is neither healthy nor helpful? 
  10. Because we are simply incapable of diagnosing our true condition, what is our job?


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Harold Vaughan

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Evangelist Harold Vaughan is the founder of Christ Life Ministries, Inc. To date, his ministry has led him to preach in forty-eight states and many foreign countries. Click on "ABOUT" in the menu bar to learn more about Harold.
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