Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.
—Hebrews 12:14 (NKJV)
Our relationship with God isn’t based on our actions but on our faith in Jesus. We can’t earn holiness by what we do. Our actions and reactions—should be born of our faith in Jesus—not born of a need to prove to ourselves or to God that we are holy. Holiness—the righteousness of God—the right standing with God that Christ gives us is true for everyone who accepts Christ as their Savior. It is the holiness—the righteousness—of God that Christ has given us that allows us to have a right relationship with God.
Hebrews 12:14 speaks of our righteousness in Christ—the right relationship where faith in Him has justified us with God. Our right relationship with God is the peace that we have with Him because of Christ. So we are to follow the peace that is ours in Christ with all men. We are to live the holiness that He has given us. Our peace with God should guide all our actions and reactions.
What is the reason we follow His peace and holiness?
Look at Hebrews 12:13:
“And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.”
Hebrews 12:14 needs to be interpreted in light of Hebrews 12:13. Our faith is revealed in the way we live. Our actions and reactions affect others. If we don’t act and react in a holy manner, no one will see God in our lives. Someone may not have a chance to have a healed relationship with God. We are the hands and feet and example of Christ. Without God’s peace and holiness that is ours in Christ as the motive for our lives, others shall not see the Lord.
Now look at Hebrews 12:15:
“Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.”
Our actions don’t buy us God grace. If they did, we wouldn’t need Jesus. And that wouldn’t be grace (Romans 11:6). Consequently, we don’t fall from grace by not being holy enough to receive it. Galatians 5:4 speaks of falling from grace by putting faith in our actions—our works—instead of putting our faith in Christ and what He did for us. When we put our faith in what we do for Christ instead of what He did for us—when we seek recognition or reward, we are trying to prove our holiness to God. We can’t prove our holiness to God. We have none to prove to Him. Trying to prove it makes us self-righteous and legalistic. And being legalistic is the only way we can “fail of the grace of God” (Hebrews 12:15).
Pride and self-righteousness make us bitter. And bitterness in our lives hurts other people. Hebrews 12:15, just as Hebrews 12:13, reveals the importance of the way we live. We are called to affect others in a positive way.
New Covenant grace reveals that our relationship with the Lord isn’t based on our actions but on our faith in Jesus. So what we believe about holiness is crucial in our relationship with God and with others. How we believe we receive the righteousness of God affects our actions and our reactions.
Are we new creations in Christ or do we have to earn it (2 Corinthians 5:17)? Are we the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus or do we have to earn it (2 Corinthians 5:21)? We live what we believe. We act and react out of what we believe.
When we allow the Holy Spirit to teach us about the new life that is ours in Christ—when we allow the Holy Spirit to convict us with the righteousness of God that is ours in Christ—actions and reactions will start to change. They will be born of faith and not of self. It will be His righteousness in us and not our self-righteousness. Peace with God will guide our lives.
© 2022 Lynn Lacher