Holiness and God – Hebrews 12:14-17

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.

Pursue Peace

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.

Seek Sanctification

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.

Assist Another

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.

Impale Immorality

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.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Help from God – Psalm 70:1-5

God Is Close To The Poor And Needy

1 Hasten, O God, to save me;
come quickly, Lord, to help me.

2 May those who want to take my life
be put to shame and confusion;
may all who desire my ruin
be turned back in disgrace.
3 May those who say to me, “Aha! Aha!”
turn back because of their shame.
4 But may all who seek you
rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who long for your saving help always say,
“The Lord is great!”

5 But as for me, I am poor and needy;
come quickly to me, O God.
You are my help and my deliverer;
Lord, do not delay.

Speedy Save

Most of us, when faced with an issue, generally cry out, “save me now!”, rather than “It’s OK, Lord. I’ll be fine.  When you have the time, would you please take a look at my situation?  I’ve got all the time in the world…”  When we are in need, our need is usually immediate.  Even David, in his prayers to God in the Psalms, cries out for immediate aid from His Creator.  It is perfectly OK to cry out for immediate assistance. God knows that we are but a mist, here today and gone tomorrow.  Be authentic with God; let Him know just how desperate You are for His help.  God already knows, and appreciates the honesty.

Request Redress

God has said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.”  Each of us has, in our hearts, a great desire to see justice fulfilled.  Most of us want to see it fall upon others rather than upon us.  We seek to have any and all slights and wrongdoings righted immediately.  Yet God is full of mercy and grace.  He sent His one and only Son to die for us on the cross while we were yet His enemies.  How much more, then should we desire mercy and grace for others?

And yet, here David cries out for his enemies to be put in shame and confusion, and to be turned back in disgrace.  David understood that his cause was just, and he greatly desired to see justice, as well as mete it out.  It is OK to desire justice and to ask God for it.  When we are yielding ourselves to the Holy Spirit, we are doubly troubled when injustice comes upon us.  This is both a test to grow in patience, mercy and grace, as well as an opportunity to grow in the desire to see justice from the perspective of a holy and just God.

Promptly Praise

In everything, we are to give praise.  David reminds us here that we are to rejoice in God, and to praise Him who saves us from our troubles.  Praise for Almighty God should always be on our lips.  Even Job, stripped of his wealth, health, and everything he held dear, upon hearing of the loss, put on the ashes of grieving, but immediately praised and worshiped God, the one who provided him with all that he had and all that he was.  We must always remember that the Lord gives, and the Lord takes away – blessed be the name of the Lord.

Declare your Desperation

It takes humility to come ask for help from anyone.  It is no different with God.  David declares his dependence upon and need for help from the One who provides for him and can help him in every situation.  David declared his desperation for God’s help by rightly declaring that he is poor and needy:

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
3 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.”

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Do we declare our unconditional dependence upon Almighty God to Him in humility and with regularity?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You and You alone are able to deliver me from my troubles.  I declare my complete and total dependence upon You, for You are the one who created me and provide all things for me.  It is You, O Lord, that deliver me out of my sins and from all of my troubles.  It is You, Lord God, who are able to overcome the impossible and bring glory to Your name in the most difficult of circumstances.  Remember me this day, Father; act divinely on behalf of Your servant.  Grant me to victory from my enemies.  Put them to shame, Lord God, who seek my ruination when I have done nothing wrong.  Deliver me from their clutches, and reveal to the world Your mighty Right Hand when You deliver me so that the world may praise and glorify Your name.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?