Summary: One of the purposes of God discipline is that believers might pursue a life of holiness.
HINDRANCES TO HOLINESS
One of the purposes of God discipline is that believers might pursue a life of holiness. Verse 10 says, “For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.“ Then verse 14 says, “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness without which no one will see the Lord.”
Salvation is that initial experience when the sinner repents of his sin and by faith receives Jesus Christ into his life. That experience is called being saved, being converted, being born again, etc. It is that once for all experience that brings us into the kingdom of God and unites us with the church. Believers baptism is the opportunity for the new Christian to testify of his new found faith in Jesus Christ. It pictures his death to sin and to self, his burial to the old life, and his resurrection to a new life in Christ.
Sanctification is that on going and life long work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer that forms us more and more into the image of Jesus Christ. Negatively, sanctification is the cleansing or purifying from sin. Positively, sanctification is the growth in righteous attitudes and behavior resulting in Christ-likeness. For this reason, believers are commanded to “be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18), and to “Walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16). The NASB translates verse 14, “Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.” Other translations use the word “holiness”
To pursue something means to run after, chase after, press after, stay after. Our key verse admonishes to pursue two things.
(1) “Pursue peace with all men.” The fact is that peace is not always possible. Some people are troublemakers even in the church. Grumblers, complainers, gossipers, criticizers. Some are self-centered and full of pride. They push their own way rather than seeking God’s way. Some in the world cause trouble for believers as well. The oppose us, ridicule us, mock, poke fun at, curse, abuse, persecute, ignore, and isolate us. Dissenters, dividers, fighters, power-builders, warmongers etc. Such people have no interest in peace. Paul wrote “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men” (Ro. 12:18).
(2) Moreover we are to pursue sanctification or holiness: “hagiasmon” The word means sanctification, consecration, and separation. It means to be set apart and to be different. The child of God is to be a different person from the rest of the world. He is separated from the world and its pleasures and possessions. He is set apart unto God and to Him alone. Believers should pursue holiness because, “without holiness no man will see the Lord.”
Yet, as we examine this passage more fully, we need to be aware of the dangers that that would hinder us from attaining to a life of holiness.
I. THERE IS THE DANGER OF FALLING SHORT OF THE GRACE OF GOD.
There are two ways one can fall short of the grace of God. (1) A true Christian can neglect the grace of God and as a result experience very little growth. To do that however, is to incur the discipline of God. (2) A lost person can reject the grace of God. One can know that he is a sinner, that he is lost, and that Jesus Christ has provided the remedy for his sin on the Cross and still not receive that remedy.
Grace has often been described as “God’s unmerited favor.” Grace is that favor of God that reaches down to sinful man in order to save him from sin. It is that favor that we do not deserve. God has poured out his grace on sinners in spite of their rejection of him, cursing him, being hostile to Him, denying him, worshiping other gods instead of the true God. God loves us in spite of our sin.
The Bible says that God revealed his love for us when we were “without strength, ungodly, sinners, and enemies.” (See Romans 5:6-10). God’s grace has been poured out on sinful men who were lost and condemned. In Love, God gave his Son to die for us on the cross of Calvary. It is “By grace that we are saved through faith…..” It is the most wonderful gift of all. It is the glorious opportunity to be saved from sin, death, and hell, to live forever with God throughout eternity.
But God does not force a person to be saved. By grace He offers you eternal life. Take care that you do not “fall short of the grace of God.” God offers you His grace, but you must be willing to act on His offer. It is possible for a person to go to church and hear the gospel all his life, and even be baptized and join the church, and do good works and still miss out on the grace of God. It is not enough just to “profess” Jesus as your Savior. You must receive Christ into your life as your Lord and savior.