Without Holiness, No One Will See The Lord
14 Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. 16 See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. 17 Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. Even though he sought the blessing with tears, he could not change what he had done.
In a world where everyone is at odds with each other, it is not always easy to be at peace with people. Although there is great evil in the world, Jesus Christ has overcome the world. And as ambassadors for Christ, we need to live in this victory. This is not to say that we will be able to be at peace with everyone. This command is completely directed at us, not at the outcome. Elsewhere, we are told:
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
This does not mean that you are to be a doormat. Make every effort to live in peace with others. They are responsible for their own reactions. Otherwise, we would be their perpetual slaves, forced to do their bidding in an effort to bring peace at any cost to our relationships.
You can’t please all of the people all the time. – Miranda Richardson
We have been set free, and should no longer be slaves to people’s desires or expectations from us or for us. We are to instead be focused on the expectations that our Lord Jesus Christ has for us.
We are to seek the Holiness of God in how we conduct our lives. This is not works-based salvation, but rather a fulfillment of a Christ-proclaimed directive:
23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.
1 Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent?
Who may live on your holy mountain?
2 The one whose walk is blameless,
who does what is righteous,
who speaks the truth from their heart;
3 whose tongue utters no slander,
who does no wrong to a neighbor,
and casts no slur on others;
4 who despises a vile person
but honors those who fear the Lord;
who keeps an oath even when it hurts,
and does not change their mind;
5 who lends money to the poor without interest;
who does not accept a bribe against the innocent.
Whoever does these things
will never be shaken.
God is holy. He cannot abide sin. It is for this reason that Jesus died on the cross, that we might have the opportunity through the righteousness (holiness) of Christ to be in the presence of God forever.
Being a disciple is more than mere intellectual ascent to the creed of your master. It is the moment-by-moment imitation of your master’s activities, thought processes, and character so that you can be as near a perfect imitation of your master. If a person thinks their way is better than their master, why waste the time, money, and effort of trying to learn their ways? Discipleship is the recognition that your master knows how to do whatever it is you desire to learn to do better than you are able to do it. God knows our hearts, and doesn’t seek people looking for “fire insurance.” God desires those who espouse a great conviction that He is holy; He is truth; He is perfect; He knows best how to do everything; and we don’t.
Cain asked God, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” The simple answer is, “YES!!!” We are to look out for each other. When we see someone else begin to falter, we are to render assistance to them, help them back up, and restore them once they have begun to walk right again.
We are to encourage one another in psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. We are to greatly desire that each member of the body of Christ be built up in the Spirit, fully mature, and lacking nothing. We are to agonize in prayer over this. The world says, “Family First!” The body of Christ needs to place this in its proper perspective: God first, family second, everyone else third. Let us begin to treat other believers in Christ in our local body (where we worship) as our family, just as if you were born and raised with them. Then, after we have that down (how much less strife would be in the church if we did just that!), let us treat the OTHER bodies of disciples of Christ as though THEY were our family as well! United we stand, divided we fall. This is just as true today as the day it was pronounced.
Sexual immorality was just as prevalent two thousand years ago as it is today. We are reminded that we are to put to death anything that impedes our walk with our Savior:
27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.”
Sanctification is the process of the renewing of one’s mind in such a way that not only do we desire to be holy, we begin to walk in the holiness of God, accepting the consequences of our actions without regard to their difficulty. God is character-driven. We are to adopt and emulate His character in how we conduct the lives that He has given us. Immorality of any type is to be rejected. God is the one who decides what is moral and immoral, for our hearts (the root of our emotions, desires, and motivations) in their natural state are wicked, and unable to properly discern the truth even about themselves.
Rejoice for the Reward
Finally, we are admonished to greatly desire the reward that awaits us in heaven. Esau, for a meal, gave away his inheritance. He desired the immediate gratification of the flesh over the (seemingly) far off reward of his inheritance. Like Esau, we are impatient, self-gratifying, self-seeking, and unable to keep everything in its proper perspective. We need to put these things to death in us. We need to embrace the same mindset as Christ, who endured the cross for the joy that was set before Him.
A Qualifying Question
Let’s ask a question: Do I not only long for, but ferociously seek the holiness of God in how I conduct my life every second of every day?
A short prayer of preparation:
Father in Heaven, You are holy, and You cannot abide sin in Your presence. Thank You again for the sacrifice of Your One and Only Son, Jesus Christ, so that I might have the opportunity to be in Your presence. Thank you for the very life and breath You give to me now. Help me to actively seek and desire the character of holiness that shines forth from You and repels the darkness. Help me to better understand Your holiness, and the principles of character that You desire to be perfected in my life. Sanctify me so that I might draw even closer to You. Help me to live in such a way that You are pleased with my conduct, my speech, and my every thought. Test me during the day, and even at night, so that I will be prepared for the great and glorious day when Your Son returns in glory. Help me to be like the virgins who brought oil with them as they awaited the bridegroom, for our bridegroom is coming, and is coming quickly. This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.