14 Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.
In the opening verses of Hebrews 12 we are told that as Christians we are to run the “race”. But what is that race that is set before us? Verse fourteen provides the answer – it is to... “Pursue Peace”. We are given a command to energetically strive toward the goals of peace with all men, and of personal holiness. We are not to be passive, believing that it will simply happen without any effort or action on our part.
Our responsibility to work out our salvation, in dependence on God's indwelling Spirit, is the pursuit of peace and holiness.
To obtain this inner peace, we have to have peace with God. If we are not in peace with God, then we still stand as His enemy. Having this peace with God will cover all of life’s relationships.
You have heard me say it before, if your relationship above/with the Lord is not good, then nothing here below will be good.
A. Be at Peace with God.
7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.
19 For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, 20 and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. 21 And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled
Martin Luther told a story about a monk who denied original sin. The monk was frustrated with his own contrariness and impatience. He decided to go and live out in a desert by himself because he believed that people around him made him sin. He wanted to isolate himself and then sin would not be a problem. In the desert he thought he could live in peace and holiness because he was alone. One day he went to a spring to get some water. Inadvertently he knocked the container over and spilled it all. In anger he flung the pitcher to the ground and broke it. He realized something; he couldn’t blame his anger on other people. It was inside. It is inside us too. Jeremiah wrote, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. Who can understand it?” We need God’s transformation of our hearts.
Peace with God is only accomplished when we acknowledge our alienation from God due to our sin, repenting of that sinfulness and surrendering to Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. God grants peace as a gift through Jesus Christ. His suffering and sacrifice opened the way for peace between human beings and God, and between human beings and other human beings.
Once God has made peace with you and you begin living a Spirit-filled life, you begin to realize the peace of God. The fruit of the Spirit includes a peace that goes beyond that of salvation.
God’s peace transcends on earthly issues and matters, as Philippians 4:4-7 illustrates…
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Because as believers we have been reconciled with and have peace with God, we are instructed to be peacemakers among fellow believers and with unbelievers.
Peace with fellow believers/all people:
Within the Christian community, God tells us to live in peace with one another. Unfortunately, peace is something that is lacking in many churches today. There are some who has conflicts with other believers. There are some who won’t let go of sin/repent. There are some who will dislike the message/pastor, because they cannot get their way.
The church is an assembly of individuals who have different personalities, backgrounds, and outlooks. Residing in the depths of each of them is residual sin of the old nature, leading to conflict within the church. Our relationships should be without any of the things that get in the way of peace: selfishness, argumentativeness, discord, jealousy, lying and distrust, cliquishness, as well as a host of other sins.
Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? 2 You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask.
We are called to make every effort to preserve peace and unity within the Body of Christ. It is inevitable that conflicts will rise, but when they occur within the church, God provides us with the biblical methods of resolution.
As believers our first priority must be to glorify God in our lives and in the church. Paul teaches us that we must always place our human conflict within the much larger context of God’s eternal glory. If conflict arises in your life, relationships, or ministry, strive to help all parties, including yourself, to ask,’ How can I please and honor God in this situation?’ It’s not about ‘winning’ the conflict. It’s not even about “win/win” scenarios. It’s about joining together in obedience to Gods will.
Peace with unbelievers:
Not only does the command to pursue peace with all men apply to our relationships with believers, it also includes pursuing peace with the lost.
“Pursue Peace with all men.” – Paul wrote this command to Hebrew Christians who were suffering, at that time, from persecution because of their faith and urges them to demonstrate a spirit of kindheartedness toward all - even to those who were persecuting them.
As Jesus said (Luke 6:27-28)
27 “But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.
Those are not easy words to obey! They apply to wives who have husbands who verbally abuse them. They apply to believers who have family members who ridicule their faith or provoke them in an attempt to get them to deny their testimony. They apply to Christian teenagers whose parents are godless and verbally abusive. They apply to Christians who work with people who hate them for their faith, who spread falsehoods about them behind their backs.”
Spurgeon - Peace is to be studied, but not such a peace as would lead us to violate holiness by conforming to the ways of unregenerate and impure men. We are to be peaceful so far as never to be at peace with sin...”
The reality of living in this fallen world is that sometimes it is not possible to be at peace with everyone. When peace would require compromising obedience to God, either morally or doctrinally we must stand obediently to God. WE cannot and must NOT sacrifice personal holiness or commitment to God’s truth for the sake of peace.
Because we are at peace with God, we should be peacemakers. Because we are counted righteous, we should live righteously. Our practice should match our position. Otherwise the unbeliever will stand back and ask…
“Why don’t you practice what you preach? If you don’t live like Christ says to live, why should I accept Him as my Lord and Savior?” – John MacArthur
We have also been commanded to pursue holiness. But what is holiness? The words “holy,” “holiness,” “saint” and “sanctify” come from the root of a Greek word meaning, “to set apart to God.” The believer in the Lord Jesus Christ is set apart for God by the Holy Spirit.
The Believer’s Positional Holiness – a standing based on Christ’s Righteousness. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.
The result of failing to pursue Peace and Holiness:
A. Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.
B. Our walk and fellowship with God is hindered.
“Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart...”
2. You cannot walk with the Lord and the world at the same time.
3. “There is no plateau in the Christian life. We are either growing closer to Christ's likeness or we are falling away.”
4.Some has said, In the Christian life “Either you're growing or you're decaying; there's no middle ground. If you're standing still, you're decaying.”
5. A lack of peace in the church does not just harm the church—it harms the gospel witness and message as we fail to be light and salt.
Church…my family. The year will come to an end and on we go to the next. God has been gracious to His church for past years. And I know that He will be faithful till the end. As the days go closer and closer to the Lords return, the world will change for the worse. But.. we His church must remain true to His words and finish the race. We are stronger together and weak when we are apart. Let us not give the enemy a foothold in what God has started.
Pastor Richard Santos
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