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Hebrews 12:14

“Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.”

Looking to Christ in faith as we put sin to death in our lives and make ourselves available to the means of grace—that is how we benefit from the Lord’s discipline and persevere to the end in the race of faith (Heb. 12:1–13; see Isa. 35). In today’s passage, the author of Hebrews begins to take these general principles and make concrete application, offering more specific guidance for pursuing the Lord with excellence.

Running the race well, we read in Hebrews 12:14, requires us to “strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” When Adam and Eve fell, contention and disharmony came to characterize relationships between people (Gen. 3:16–19). In achieving redemption, one of God’s aims is to restore the peace that was lost in the fall, and one of the great hopes for the reign of the Messiah was that it would be a reign of peace (Isa. 9:7). Consequently, those who belong to the Messiah—the Lord Jesus Christ—seek to live at peace with other people, to be peacemakers in this strife-filled world (Matt. 5:9). Having found peace with God (Rom. 5:1), we are enabled to make peace with others. Of course, peace consists of more than just the absence of disagreement or all-out war between various parties. We are to seek true peace based on truth and are not to compromise God’s revelation in Scripture and in nature just to get along. John Owen, looking also to Romans 12:18, comments, “Peace with other people is not to be carried out at any price.”

In addition to peace, we must strive for holiness, since people will not see the Most Holy God unless they are holy (Heb. 12:14). This should not surprise us, for our Creator cannot tolerate sin in His blessed presence (Hab. 1:13). Our redemption involves our progressive transformation from unholiness to holiness, such that we begin to exhibit aspects of the holy character that God perfects in us in our glorification (1 Cor. 15:29; 1 John 3). Until that day, we will fall into sin from time to time even as we more and more die to sin and live unto holiness (1 John 1:8–9). That does not mean we cannot be in God’s presence now, for ultimately Jesus is our holiness and He is now ours by faith in Him alone (1 Cor. 1:30). As the early church father Jerome writes, “Christ is that sanctification without which no one shall see the face of God.” If we possess Christ by faith, we possess holiness and will one day see God.

Coram Deo Living before the face of God

Today let us consider where peace and holiness may be lacking in our lives. If we are able to make peace with someone who has been set against us without compromising God’s truth, let us do so today. Moreover, let us pursue holiness, setting aside sin this day and asking the Lord to enable us to resist evil and to do His will.

For Further Study
  • Ezekiel 28:25–26
  • Matthew 5:8
  • Luke 1:67–75
  • John 14:27

A Call for Strength

Obtaining the Grace of God

Keep Reading Christian Discourse

From the August 2020 Issue
Aug 2020 Issue