Bible Baptist Church

" Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." ...... John 3:3


Pursuing Peace and Holiness


Hebrews 12:14-17


I.                    Follow peace- v. 14

a.      We serve the Prince of Peace- we have made peace with God, and we have the peace of God!

b.      Our Lord said, "Blessed are the peacemakers" (Matt. 5:9).  Hebrews 12:14 says, "Follow peace with all men…”

c.       All types of men- of varying status, temperaments, lifestyles, etc.

d.      Proverbs 15:1 A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.

e.      The next half of this verse teaches pursuing holiness- getting right with God. Part of getting right with God is getting right with man!

f.        Where there is no peace with men, peace with God cannot be enjoyed.

g.      This is a mandate for the individual Christian. We should not conflate this with the right of a country to go to war and defend itself- i.e. Israel

h.      While nations are at liberty to go to war, it’s a sad reality that many Christians are at war in their own home, or in their churches! James 3:17, I Thess. 5:13

i.        There is so much contention and strife- that is unnecessary

                                                              i.      See I Peter 3:8-11

                                                            ii.      Practice forgiveness- illustr- Peter 70x7!

j.        That kind of peace is to be pursued. It requires an effort; it is not something which just happens. Submission and obedience to Christ brings about this peace.

                                                              i.      Avoid becoming a party to a quarrel. It takes two to make a quarrel: never be one.

                                                            ii.      Do not seek revenge. Leave it up to God to vindicate us, and He will.

                                                          iii.      Do not give cause of offence. If you are aware of certain susceptibilities on the part of others, where they may be easily irritated, avoid triggering them.

                                                           iv.      Pray for people specifically!

II.                  Follow holiness

a.      Getting right with God!

b.      This deals with our sanctification, that lifelong process of becoming like Christ.

c.       We are to pursue holiness, however we are living in a very unholy world!

d.      The idea of holiness is purity- undefiled, uncompromised, unspotted

e.      Without which no man shall see the Lord: we must be made holy to see the Lord!

f.        Holiness fits us for heaven! It also fits us to walk with Christ in this world!

g.      So this is a spiritual preparation of our inner man, to live and walk in the conscious presence of God

h.      To "follow" after holiness means to deny self and submit to God in all things.

i.        Valuable as peace is, we are not to sacrifice truth or righteousness in order to obtain it.

j.        “At heaven’s gate there stands an angel with charge to admit none but those who in their countenances bear the same features as the Lord of the place. Here comes a monarch with a crown upon his head. The angel pays him no respect, but reminds him that the diadems of earth have no value in heaven. A company of eminent men advance dressed in robes of state, and others adorned with the gowns of learning, but to these no deference is rendered, for their faces are very unlike the Crucified. A maiden comes forward, fair and comely, but the celestial watcher sees not in that sparkling eye and ruddy cheek the beauty for which he is looking. A man of renown cometh up heralded by fame, and preceded by the admiring clamour of mankind; but the angel saith, “Such applause may please the sons of men, but thou hast no right to enter here.” But free admittance is always given to those who in holiness are made like their Lord. Poor they may have been; illiterate they may have been; but the angel as he looks at them smiles a welcome as he says, “It is Christ again; a transcript of the holy child Jesus. Come in, come in; eternal glory thou shalt win. Thou shalt sit in heaven with Christ, for thou art like Him.” (C. H. Spurgeon.)

III.                Failing to access God’s grace leads to sin

a.      Nobody wants to be a failure!

b.      Failing to keep up with God’s grace

c.       There is a danger in not diligently pursuing peace and holiness (12:14, 15).   This "failure" (12:15) is usually referred to as "backsliding."

d.      Backsliding and bitterness can be avoided by the grace of God. But there is a danger in failing to appropriate the grace of God. God's grace is freely given, but oftentimes we fail to appropriate it (12:15).

e.      The dangerous root of bitterness. “Bitterness corrupts many, rooted in a sense of personal hurt, and many hold on to the bitterness with amazing stubbornness. What they must do is remember the grace of God extended to them, and start extending that grace towards others – loving the undeserving.” Guzik

f.        There are some root sins in lives that need to be uprooted! Don’t just deal with the fruit, get down to the root!

g.      Root sins spring up and defile us and those around us!

h.      Fornication and other immoral sins can have devastating effects!

i.        Profane person- To sum it all up, the writer to the Hebrews cites the example of Esau.

j.        Profane person is "one in whom there is no thought of God" (William Newell).

k.       For one momentary gratification of the flesh, there are many like Esau who forfeit the blessings of God. His foolish decision was irrevocable (12:17). He could not undo what was done.

l.        Genesis 25:34 says Esau "Esau despised his birthright."

m.    "Profane" (Heb. 12:16) persons despise the privileges of God, and the blessings of God

n.      Like Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright: Many Christians today sell a birthright of intimacy and fellowship with God as cheaply as Esau sold his birthright (Genesis 25:29-34 and 27:30-40). We sacrifice the eternal on the altar of the temporal!

 

Conclusion:

·         This is a warning to the backslider: pursue, follow after, aim at these virtues and continue following Christ!

·         See Philippians 3:12