Don’t Test the Providence of God

Hebrews 12:14-17 ESV

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

Now, if we are to strive for peace with everyone, what should that look like? Well, it doesn’t involve compromise on matters of biblical truth and on matters of holiness and righteousness, and so it won’t necessitate absence of conflict with unbelievers (the ungodly). For Jesus told us that if we follow him that we will be hated and persecuted as he was. So this isn’t about compromising our faith and convictions to be at peace with all people, or even to be at peace with just others who profess faith in Jesus Christ. But we can strive for peace in other ways that don’t require such compromise.

And we are also to strive for holiness, without which NO ONE will see the Lord, and this includes everyone who makes a profession of faith in Jesus Christ. If we are not walking in holiness and in righteousness, and if we are not making obedience to our Lord our practice, then we will not inherit eternal life with God, regardless of what our lips profess. For to be holy means to be separate (unlike, different) from the world because we are being conformed to the likeness of Jesus Christ. But if you are being conformed to the world and not to Christ, then heaven is not your home.

Now these words are being spoken to people who profess faith in Jesus Christ. So, just because you profess faith in Jesus Christ, it does not mean that heaven is guaranteed you when you die. For there are many people saying, “Lord, Lord,” and claiming the things they are doing in the name of Jesus, or not, but one day when they stand before the Lord he is going to tell them that he never knew them, for they are workers of lawlessness, and so he is going to cast them out. And they will not enter the kingdom of heaven because they didn’t obey the Lord (see Matthew 7:21-23).

And that is what it is talking about here when it says to see to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God. For the grace of God is not just forgiveness of sins, a reprieve from the punishment of sin, and the promise of heaven when you die. For the grace of God, which is bringing us salvation, trains (instructs) us to renounce (say ‘no’ to) ungodliness and worldly and fleshly passions and desires, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives while we wait for our Lord’s return. For Jesus died on that cross to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works (see Titus 2:11-14).

And going along with that, we are to see to it that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled. For what happens when you hold on to anger, resentment, and unforgiveness? It turns to bitterness. And those who are bitter cannot please God with their lives. And often they will turn away from following the Lord Jesus, and they will turn to sin, perhaps out of rebellion and as a means to comfort themselves in their bitterness, because they do not want to let go of it, and in their pride they will continue in sin rather than to repent and to let go.

And we are also to see to it that no one is sexually immoral. Wow! That’s a big one, isn’t it? For if you realize what a big problem sexual immorality has become among those professing faith in Jesus Christ in America today, you will realize what a serious issue this is. For most statistics that I have read say that up to 75% of Christian men regularly dabble in pornography (sexually explicit materials) and up to 35% of pastors, too, and then also women and children are regularly engaged in this activity, as well. And this doesn’t include all the other expressions of sexual immorality which exist.

So, this should have no part in our lives at all, for we are to be God’s holy people, living in obedience to our Lord, walking in his ways and in his truth, in righteousness, and not any longer in sin. For we are not to walk in sin, and we are not to refuse to walk in obedience to our Lord, or we will not inherit eternal life with God, regardless of what our lips profess. For that is being like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal, when we forsake holiness and righteousness to run after sin, instead. And even if you desire to have eternal life with God and to go to heaven when you die, you will be rejected by God because you rejected him and his commandments (New Covenant).

So, please take this seriously. Please do not play with fate. Know what the Scriptures teach on this subject, believe what they teach (in context), and follow the way of truth and righteousness, and no longer walk in sin.

[Matt 7:21-23; Matt 24:9-14; Lu 9:23-26; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14,24; Rom 12:1-2; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; 1 Co 1:18; 1 Co 15:1-2; 2 Tim 1:8-9; Heb 9:28; 1 Pet 1:5; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 2:8-10; Eph 4:17-32; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-17; 1 Pet 2:24; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6,24-25; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 3:6,14-15; Heb 10:23-31; Heb 12:1-2; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]

Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer

Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897

Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.

Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.

O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.

O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.

Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.

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