(Article for publication week of 2-12-2015 AD)
"Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: (Hebrews 12:14).
Dear reader, please heed with all seriousness our text - "without holiness", you will not see God in Glory. The way that leads to God, is the holy way. A man is not saved apart from holiness. You may see God without any money, but you will never see God without holiness. You may see God without health, but you will not see God without holiness. You may see God without any earthly friends, but you will never see God without holiness. Without holiness, no man shall see the Lord.
Let us hear the faithful preacher, Arthur Pink regarding holiness. "To 'follow' holiness is to live like persons who are devoted to God- to His glory, to His claims upon us, to His cause in the world. It is to make it evident that we belong to Him. It is to separate ourselves from all that is opposed to Him. It is to mortify the flesh, with its affections and lusts. It is to cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and of the spirit. (2 Corinthians 7:1). It is a life task from which there is no discharge while we remain in the body."
I think that we can see from the text the close connection with following peace with all men and following holiness. The experts in the Greek grammar tell us that that the second clause is in the singular, indicating that holiness is the thing without which we cannot see God. However, the close connection between following peace with all men and following holiness indicates that the former is a vital part of our sanctification. In these two expressions we see our duty to God and to our fellow man, as seen also in the Two Tables of the Law, to first love God with all our being, and the Second to Love our neighbour as ourselves. Christians are exhorted to love their enemies and pray for those who persecute us and use us spitefully. We are to be at peace with all men as much as lieth within us (Romans 12:18). The servant of the Lord is forbidden to strive (II Timothy 2:24). So, I think we can see here that following peace with all men, including our enemies is fundamental to also following after holiness.
Now I have a word of cheer for the poor, downcast children of God who have quit their former hopes of their own righteousness and are trusting in Christ for imputed righteousness. Such calls to holiness as we issue are a two edged sword; with one side we warn the careless world-ling and the antinomian church member that you will never see God without following holiness. With the other side we comfort the true children of God that our text does not say that you can save yourself by your own personal holiness. We can no more save ourselves by our own holiness that we can by our own righteousness. But the text plainly says you must "follow" holiness, that is you must be in pursuit of it. This is a description of the longings and desires of the heaven-born soul who longs to be holy as God is holy- who longs to be conformed to the image of Christ- who longs to be rid of this sin nature forever. This describes the child of God who is mortifying sin and all the while mourning within at how powerful it still is within his sorry self! The true saint knows that he has not attained unto holiness, but he is ever in pursuit of it. Brother Rolfe Barnard, who was instrumental in my own conversion had , I think one of the best comments I have ever heard on Hebrews 12:14. He said, " you may never catch up with holiness, but you better take out after it!" AMEN!