Hebrews 12:14 ESV
“Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.”
We are all to strive for peace and holiness. Thus, the peace we are to strive for with everyone can never compromise holiness. Holiness must always be what we hold on to. Peace should never come at the cost of what is right, and what is good, and what is pure. Therefore, we don’t do what is wrong to make peace with others. We stand for what is right and just even if others are not at peace with us, and even if they hate us, in return.
So, how can we live at peace with others who may not believe what we do, or who may be opposed to us? We don’t fight with them, for one. It doesn’t mean we don’t tell them the truth or that we don’t stand for what is right, but that we don’t get into bitter arguments with people just because we have differences of beliefs or differences of opinion. For, I see too many Christians doing this, and in public, too, and that is a poor witness.
For, holiness has to do with living our lives separate from the world of sin and wickedness. It has to do with being likeminded with Christ, not with the world. It has to do with focusing on what is important to God, not on what is important to the world. And, it has to do with pleasing God, not with pleasing man. For, without holiness we will not see God.
Hebrews 12:15-17 ESV
“See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no ‘root of bitterness’ springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.”
So, how can someone fail to obtain the grace of God? Well, we must first understand what that grace is. For, it isn’t mere forgiveness of sin and the promise of heaven when we leave this earth. It is freedom from slavery to sin, and it is empowerment to live in righteousness (Rom. 6:1-23).
For, the grace of God instructs us to say “No” to ungodliness and fleshly lusts and to live self-controlled, godly and upright lives while we wait for Christ’s return (Tit. 2:11-14).
So, we can fail to obtain the grace of God if we continue living in sin, for self, for self-pleasure, and to gratify the sensual desires of our flesh. We can fail to obtain the grace of God, too, if we let bitterness take over our hearts, and if we let it control what we do and how we treat people.
For, when people become bitter of spirit towards others, it is also directed at God. And, it causes trouble in people’s lives in that it leads them to become defiled by all sorts of sensual pleasures. It leads people to murder, to steal from others, to cheat others, to lust, to commit adultery, or to do all manner of evil against other people, even against young children or the elderly.
For, if someone has a root of bitterness in his (or her) heart, it is bitterness against God, and thus he will not respond to the Lord in faith and obedience, but he will still want to maintain control over his own life. And, that bitterness will come out in sinful ways which are intended to hurt others, and sometimes they are directed against the innocent ones who are obeying their Lord.
So, the grace of God is not free license to continue living in sin once we profess him as Savior of our lives. In fact, he says that if we continue living in sin that we don’t know him, he doesn’t know us, and we don’t have eternal life with God, even if we are convinced that we do (Rom. 8:1-17; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; 1 Jn. 2:3-6; Gal. 5:16-21; Gal. 6:7-8; Rom. 2:6-8; Eph. 5:3-6).
And, repentance is not just feeling sorry that you sin. Repentance is turning away from your lifestyle of sin, and it is turning to follow the Lord in obedience, which includes getting rid of all bitterness and having a heart transformation of God that leads us to love others, not sin against them willfully, habitually, and even premeditatively for a long period of time.
So, those who hold on to bitterness, and who refuse to let it go, fall into all manner of evil against others, and so they may cry tears and say they are sorry, but unless they change, and unless they turn, and unless they let God transform their hearts so that they now walk in love, they will not inherit eternal life with God. For, they will never know God’s true grace.
Hebrews 12:25-27 ESV
“See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, ‘Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.’ This phrase, ‘Yet once more,’ indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain.”
There are many ways to refuse God. For, many people may acknowledge him as Savior of their lives, but they may refuse him by their actions. So, a refusal is not necessarily verbal. For, we can confess Christ with our lips, and the confession be empty, vain, and lip service only, with no action behind it.
The true refusal (denial) of our Lord comes with our actions. For, when he instructs us in what it means to believe in him, and he shows us the way to salvation from our bondage to sin, but we remain living in sin, doing what we want, for our own pleasure, we are refusing him. And, the wrath of God will indeed come against us.
When we habitually sin against God and others, and we habitually do harm to others knowingly, time and time again, through willful disobedience, in the face of God, stomping on his heart, and thereby slandering his grace, we cannot expect that we will ever see God. For, we will reap what we sow (Rom. 8:1-17; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Lu. 9:23-26; 1 Jn. 2:3-6; Gal. 6:7-8).
God is going to judge the people of this earth, including all who profess him as Lord and Savior of their lives. He will bring hardships upon us while we still live on the face of this earth, for one. And, in those judgments he will remove from our lives those things which are not of him, and which are of this world, in order that what remains in our lives is what is of God and of his eternal kingdom. But we still have to respond to him in submission.
And, at the end of all time, he will come to receive those who are his by faith, and he will cast into the lake of fire all who refused him by their lives. For, they will die in their sins if, while they lived on this earth, they refused to die to their sins, by his grace.
Hebrews 12:28-29 ESV
“Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.”
So, what should our response be to all of this? We should be people who offer to God acceptable worship, which is our lives on his altar of sacrifice living holy lives pleasing to him. And, it is living lives under his power and control, which are no longer conformed to the ways of this sinful world, but which are transformed of the Spirit of God away from sin to walks of obedience to our Lord Jesus (Rom. 12:1-2; Eph. 4:17-24).
And, we are to do this with reverence and awe to our God. And, this reverence is honoring God for the holy God that he is. And, it is obeying his commands. And, it is following him in his truth and righteousness. And, it is not giving way to the flesh, and it is not living our lives to please ourselves. But it is that we no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us, to the glory and praise of God!
For, our God is a consuming fire! Yes, he is a God of love, but he is also a righteous and holy and just God. So, Jesus died for us that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. He didn’t die just to forgive our sins so we could continue living in sin. So, take him seriously! Don’t take his grace for granted. For, if we want to have eternal life with God, we must walk according to the Spirit, and not according to the flesh.
So, if you have not done so already, give your heart over to Jesus, walk in obedience to his commands, and turn away from sin. Then, you will have heaven as your eternal resting place forever with God.
When I Go Home
By G. M. Eldridge
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes…” Revelation 21:4
In the moment He appears
And the light from heaven shines,
I’ll forget ev’ry fear,
Ev’ry pain I’ll leave behind.
Then I’ll see Him as He is
And I’ll know Him as I’m known.
Ev’ry tear wiped away when I go home.
Ever present is the tho’t
That a moment waits for me
When unworthy as I am,
His glory I will see.
I will empty all my praise
Before my Father’s throne.
Ev’ry tear wiped away when I go home.
If the trial I endure,
And your presence I can’t find,
Be near me, Lord, I pray,
Bring back unto my mind
That your promises are firm
And I’m never on my own.
Ev’ry tear wiped away when I go home.
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