A Systematic Expository Study on the book of Hebrews
STUDY 41: PURSUING PEACE AND HOLINESS
Hebrews 12: 14.
Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord (Hebrews 12: 14). The exhortation contained here is central and pivotal to the message of the whole Bible. The challenge is for everyone who desires to see the Lord at the end of his Christian race on earth. The pursuit of peace and holiness requires God’s grace and divine operation in man’s heart. The natural, unregenerated man does not have peace with God, does not have peace within himself, neither does he know how to maintain peace with his fellowmen. Hearing the gospel of peace (Romans 10: 15) , he is brought to repentance and faith in Christ, the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9: 6). Then does he have peace with God (Romans 5: 1) who Himself is the God of peace (Hebrews 13: 20). This encounter with the Lord makes him a child of God which makes Him also a son of peace (Luke 10: 6).
So the true believer is to follow peace with all men, but his pursuit does not end there. He is also to pursue holiness. This holiness is the gift of God to His own. With a strong desire for the nature of God in him, he pursues and prays for a purified heart, a heart that is made holy. Being sanctified, he continues to seek to live in holiness as a practical expression of his sanctification in Christ. Our holiness must not be in word or doctrine only. We must demonstrate practical, biblical holiness in our daily life, at work, at home; in our relationship with God as well as our relationship with all men.
DESIRE FOR PEACE
Hebrews 12: 14; Galatians 5: 22, 23; Luke 1: 77, 79; Romans 12: 18; 14: 19; Genesis 13: 7-9; Ephesians 4: 2; 1 Thessalonians 5: 15;
James 3: 17, 18; 1 Peter 3: 8-11.
Strife and contention are natural for those who have not been converted to Christ. There is a radical change in our hearts and lives when we receive Christ and His salvation. Though we are still in the world, in the midst of those who hate the narrow way to Heaven, those who follow the broad way to hell, those who hate and persecute us, we follow peace with all men. We live amidst men whose modes of thinking and acting are very different and opposed to ours, yet we are to do everything that lies in our power, consistent with truth and holiness, to live in peace with our ungodly neighbours. Though we maintain our stand and avoid compromise at all cost, we live in peace, avoid quarrels and strife. Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it (Psalms 34: 14).
The Greek word for follow means earnestly pursue. The Christian is to spare no effort to live peacefully with all men, no matter how contentious and unfriendly they may be. With God’ s grace in us, exercising and manifesting the spirit of Christ, we must do all that is necessary to promote the happiness of others and maintain peace. We must be humble and gracious to all people around us and let love reign in all we do to others. Then are we truly the children of God (Matthew 5: 9).
DILIGENCE IN HOLINESS
Hebrews 12: 14; 1 Peter 1: 15, 16; 2 Corinthians 7: 1; Romans 6: 22; Luke 1: 75; Leviticus 11: 45; 2 Timothy 2: 21;
1 Thessalonians 2: 10; 3: 13;4: 7; 5: 22-24; 2 Peter 3: 11.
Follow peace with all men, and holiness..... Aiming at, pursuing and maintaining peace with all men is not sufficient, we must be diligent in pursuing, possessing and manifesting holiness. There is holiness of life immediately we are born again because real conversion makes us new creatures in Christ and we live in newness of life. Yet there is inward purity or inner holiness or definite experience of sanctification that we seek to receive through prayer, consecration and faith. Being sanctified and made holy, we follow peace with all men, it is more important that we diligently pursue holiness.
This holiness is devotedness to God, conformity to the image of Christ, unreserved, uncompromising obedience to our Lord and Master, purity of heart, possession of Divine nature. We must not rest until we are so cleansed by the Blood of Jesus Christ even if others oppose it and oppose us. As an old-time preacher has said, “It is infinitely better to have the whole world for our enemies and God for our Friend, than to have the whole world for our friends and God for our Enemy”. Remember God’s unchanging Word: Follow peace with all men, and HOLINESS, without which no man shall see the LORD (Hebrews 12: 14).
DETERMINATION TO SEE GOD
Hebrews 12: 14; Job 33: 26; Isaiah 33: 15-17; Revelation 21: 27; 22: 3, 4; Psalm 24: 3, 4; Matthew 5: 8; 1 John 3: 2, 3.
To show how important and indispensable holiness is, the Apostle says without which no mans shall see the Lord (Hebrews 12: 14). The word which in Greek is in the singular, showing that it is referring to holiness. The emphasis of the text is that without holiness no man shall see the Lord. But how about peace? If you have holiness you will manifest or possess all the peace that God desires - the kind of peace that Christ manifested. Some may try to live in peace with all men by forfeiting holiness but you cannot live in holiness without also living in Christlike peace. Holiness is essential if you want to see God and live with Him in eternity.
Unless we are made partakers of His holiness, unless we are holy as He has commanded, unless we are fully consecrated to God in obedience to Him continually, we cannot enter into His presence in heaven. There is only one way which leads to Heaven, and it is the Highway of Holiness (Isaiah 35: 8). Any other way will end in Hell fire.
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