“The next day John seeth Jesus
coming unto him, and saith,
Behold the Lamb of God,
which taketh away the sin of the world.”
As the author to the Epistle to the Hebrews begins his closing remarks, he includes the two exhortations in Hebrews 12:14. The man of God is to pursue peace with all others, and holiness. Peace and holiness are united because when a child of God lives a holy life, it brings a spirit of peace, and tranquility to self, and others.
A holy life is a life without inner conflict produced by a guilty conscience.
A holy life is not contentious, or self-centered. It does not wage war.
The apostle James noted the origin of conflict. “From whence come wars and fighting among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?” (James 4:1).
Lucifer waged war in heaven when he said, “I will be like the Most High.”
Adam waged war on earth when he said, “I will eat of the forbidden fruit, and I too will be like God knowing good and evil.” The author to the Epistle to the Hebrews explains why holiness is to be pursued. Without holiness, “no person shall see the Lord.”
Sin blinds the mind.
Sin darkens the understanding.
Sin perverts the emotions.
Sin eclipses the Son of righteousness.
Sin dominates the will.
Sin moves men to love darkness rather than light.
Sin creates chaos and confusion.
Sin destroys the moral compass of the will, while exalting pride, selfishness, and greed.
Sin causes the body to be consumed with illicit desires, and anger, while trying to silence the conscience warning of a certain judgment to come.
Sin defies God.
Sin destroys relationships.
Sin demands complete surrender and servitude, and gives only death as wages in return.
Sin removes any desire to see God in person, or through His Word.
When there is a grievous sin in the soul, a person does not want to worship, and will stay away from Church.
If not forsaken, sin will cancel any chance to see God in eternity, and be in His holy presence, for what fellowship does darkness have with light?
If sin is not mortified, it will diminish the desire to be around good people, for the Lord might be seen in their lives.
Finally, radical sin will incapacitate the ability to see God in one’s self.
In his autobiography, “I Could be Wrong: But I Doubt It,” Duck Commander Phil Robertson tells of what he saw when he lived without holiness. He saw the Devil— in himself. Because of what sin does to the soul, the exhortation comes to pursue [Gk. deoko, to flee, persecute] holiness, for a life of holiness brings peace to self, and to others. A life of holiness allows a person to see the Lord in time, in eternity, in the Word, and in others.
The exhortation of Hebrews 12:14 comes with a compelling motivation.
We want to see Jesus. Each Sunday, I teach a Bible Class at the First Baptist Church of Cocoa in Fl. Each week we sing a little chorus before the lesson begins that says in part,
“Open my eyes Lord,
I want to see Jesus.”
To encourage our hearts, the Word of God teaches that every born-again believer will eventually be characterized by a life of holiness, not just in eternity, but in time. A life of Christian holiness will not remain a potentiality, but will become an actuality. It will not happen overnight. Time is needed to change a lifetime of bad behavior. It will not happen entirely, despite the Wesleyan doctrine of entire sanctification. Study 1 John 1:1-9 But eventually, holiness will characterize the life of the Christian, as a general principle. The Christian will say,
“I am not what I should be.
I am not all I can be.
But by God’s grace, I am not what I was.”
Consider the evidence that overall, a life of holiness will eventually characterize every Christians.
First, the Lord has promised to give His people a new heart. The reason we believe in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, the reason why we desire to see Jesus is because God has given a new heart, according to promise. “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them” (Ezekiel 36:26-27).
A life of holiness, a life of sanctification is a divine undertaking. What God begins, He completes.
Therefore, take hope, affirm faith in the promise of God, and sing a song of praise.
“How firm a foundation,
ye saints of the Lord,
is laid for your faith
in God’s excellent Word!
What more can be said
than to you God hath said,
to you who for refuge
to Jesus have fled?
Fear not, I am with thee,
O be not dismayed,
for I am thy God,
and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen thee,
help thee, and cause thee to stand,
upheld by my righteous,
Second, holiness will characterize a Christian’s life because of the new nature. “Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Cor. 5:17). When a person is in Christ, there is a new birth. Nicodemus experienced the new birth as a religious leader in Israel, and all things became new. He who came to Jesus by night, by day defended Christ (John 7:50-52). When the body of Jesus needed preparation for burial, Nicodemus brought a costly mixture of myrrh and aloes (John 19:49). All to Jesus, Nicodemus had surrender, all to Jesus he freely gave.
When a person is in Christ, there is a new name. “Him that overcometh will I … write upon him my new name” (Rev. 3:12).
“I was once a sinner, but I came
Pardon to receive from my Lord.
This was freely given, and I found
That He always kept His word.
There’s a new name Written down in glory,
And it’s mine,
oh yes, it’s mine!
And the white-robed Angels sing the story,
“A sinner has come home.”
For there’s a new name written down in glory,
And it’s mine,
Oh yes, it’s mine!
With my sins forgiven I am bound for heaven,
Nevermore to roam.”
~C. Austin Miles
When a person is in Christ, there is a new relationship to God through adoption. The Bible says that Jesus came to redeem those that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. Because of our new relationship, the Spirit leads us to cry in happiness, “Abba, Father” (Gal. 4:5, 6).
“I’m so glad I’m a part of the Family of God,
I’ve been washed in the fountain, cleansed by His blood!
Joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod,
For I’m part of the family,
The Family of God.”
~Bill and Gloria Gaither
Third, holiness will characterize a Christian’s life because of the presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit. And the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Gal. 5:22-23). Care must be taken to sin against the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit can be lied to. Ananias and Sapphira lied to the Holy Ghost and died a premature death for so doing (Acts 5:1-11).
The Holy Spirit can be resisted (Acts 7:51). A divine impulse to do something can be suppressed, but not for ever, because the Lord will discipline His own (Prov. 3:12; Hebrews 12:6).
The Holy Spirit can be grieved (Eph. 4:30), when sin is unconfessed. The Greek word translated as “grieved,” means “to cause to feel sorrow, pain, unhappiness, or distress.” As the third Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit has a personality and the ability to feel emotions like joy (Luke 10: 21), outrage (Hebrews 10:29, ESV), and sorrow (Ephesians 4:30, NLT). This should be kept in mind.
The Holy Spirit can be quenched (1 Thess. 5:19). The Greek term means to drown out, much like pouring water on a campfire. The Holy Spirit is represented by fire in Scripture (Matt. 3:1; Acts 2:3-4). Care must be taken that we not act contrary to the known will of God.
The Holy Spirit can be blasphemed (Matt. 12:31-32). This sin ascribes to Satan the works of God.
By recognizing there are sins against God the Father, the Son, and the Spirit, care can be taken to guard the heart.
While the sanctification of the Christian’s life is ultimately the responsibility of the triune God, the work of holiness is not passive, but active.
Because this is true, let us make a personal commitment to follow Christ.
Let us determine, by God’s grace, to be found among the unashamed.
Many years ago, an unknown
African martyr wrote these words.
I am part of the fellowship of the unashamed. I have Holy Spirit power. The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made. I am a disciple of His.
I will not look back, let up, slow down, back away or be still. My past is redeemed. My present makes sense. My future is secure. I am finished with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, worldly talking, cheap giving, and dwarfed goals.
I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudit, or popularity. I do not have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded. I now live by faith, lean on His presence, walk by patience, am uplifted by prayer, and labor by power.
My pace is set. My gait is fast. My goal is heaven. My road is narrow. My way rough. My companions are few. My guide is reliable and my mission is clear.
I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of the adversary, negotiate at the table of the enemy, pander at the pool of popularity or meander in the maze of mediocrity.
I will not give up, shut up, let up, until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up, preached up for the cause of Christ. I am a disciple of Jesus. I must go till He comes, give ’til I drop, preach till all know, and work till He stops me.
And when He comes for His own, He will have no problem recognizing me. My banner will be clear!”
In 1911, William Pierson Merrill wanted to be found among the unashamed, and he desired the same for others.
With evangelistic zeal, he picked up a pen and wrote to Christian men saying,
“Rise up, O men of God!
Have done with lesser things;
Give heart and soul and mind and strength
To serve the King of kings.
Rise up, O men of God!
The kingdom tarries long;
Bring in the day of Christlike love
And end the night of wrong.
Lift high the cross of Christ!
Tread where his feet have trod;
Led onward by the Son of Man,
Rise up, O men of God!”
The conclusion of the lesson is this. Be encouraged.
We shall see the Lord, We shall be holy experientially because we are holy positionally in Christ, which is why we are the beloved of God, called saints in Romans 1:7.