Agonizomai: Heb 12 - 14 - Christ - Peace and Holiness Expressed Through Us

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Heb 12 - 14 - Christ - Peace and Holiness Expressed Through Us

Heb 12 - 14 - Christ - Peace and Holiness Expressed Through Us


Heb 12:14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

Part of "making straight our paths" is also ensuring that there is no known sin in our lives. The Hebrews are admonished that all this learning through tribulation and suffering is of no avail if sin is entertained at the same time. If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me. {Ps 66:18} Not only will he not hear me, but I will not hear Him.

Love cannot be hateful. It cannot be strident. It is peaceable. There is a time for war also, but only at God’s leading. We are all to be looking to be at peace with everyone. Note it says "strive for peace" and not "be at peace". Some people are implacable and some situations (in God’s providence, not ours) require confrontation. It is a question of motivation.

And we are to be "other" as God is "other." There is to be a transcendence about us. We are to be "cut" from the world and worldliness and separated unto righteousness. So when the writer states that we should "strive for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord" how are we to understand it? He cannot be implying that we must work to justify ourselves before God, or to earn a place in heaven. That would contradict the idea a salvation by grace alone.

Yet we also remember the words of Jesus himself commanding us to strive to enter in at the strait gate. {Luke 13:24} Without striving to enter, and instead just wishing to enter, then an entry cannot be made. The words of Luther come to mind from that great hymn "A Mighty Fortress is Our God," where he says, "Did we in our own strength confide our striving would be losing; were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s Own choosing. "

So, for the Christian, striving for holiness is not an attempt to earn God’s favour, but the fruit of His presence in the believer. The means by which this fruit is brought forth is the obedience of faith to the word of God received through personal study, preaching and prayer. (Older divines and many sound churches today would say - through the right understanding and proper application of the preaching of Christ, the Lord’s Supper and church discipline) Holiness is Christ manifesting Himself in us as we abide in Him through faith.



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