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Pursuing Holiness with Enduring Passion (Hebrews 12:14-29)

Hebrews 12:14–29 - 14 Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; 16 that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal. 17 For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears. 18 For you have not come to a mountain that can be touched and to a blazing fire, and to darkness and gloom and whirlwind, 19 and to the blast of a trumpet and the sound of words which sound was such that those who heard begged that no further word be spoken to them. 20 For they could not bear the command, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it will be stoned.” 21 And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, “I am full of fear and trembling.” 22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, 23 to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel. 25 See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven. 26 And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but also the heaven.” 27 This expression, “Yet once more,” denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; 29 for our God is a consuming fire. What does today’s passage say? In today's passage, the writer calls believers to pursue holiness and peace with others (v. 14). He warns against allowing "bitterness" to take root and defile the community (v. 15), using Esau as an example of someone who lost blessing by gratifying fleshly desires (vv. 16-17). Next is a contrast between the fear Israel experienced when God's voice shook the earth at Mount Sinai (vv. 18-21) and the unshakable kingdom believers now receive through Christ's work (vv. 22-24). Passing through judgment is promised for those who reject this kingdom (vv. 25-27). Therefore, since we have an unshakable position in Christ, we must respond with reverence, worship, and awe (vv. 28-29). Our "consuming fire" God is to be served wholeheartedly, for our God is holy above all. How can I apply Hebrews 12:14-29 to my life? In this passage, God lovingly challenges us not to settle for a mediocre faith but to passionately pursue Christlike maturity. Jesus set the example by enduring the Cross for the joy set before Him. Now we must run after Him with endurance, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus as we strip off sin and distraction. For one day, we will stand before the holy God who disciplines those He loves. Have we forgotten the wonder of the mountaintop where we first glimpsed His glory and grace? The kingdom that cannot be shaken? In awe and gratitude, we must worship God through lives of reverent obedience. When Scripture exposes our sin, will we respond with humility or resistance? God yearns for all His children to share in His holiness. So, He calls us higher, deeper, closer. Higher in holiness, deeper in intimacy, closer in community. As recipients of amazing grace, we represent a kingdom defined by righteousness, peace, and joy. Here are some basic principles from this passage that we should apply to our lives:

  1. Seek Personal Holiness and Peace with Others to See God (v. 14): In this verse, the writer of Hebrews instructs believers to pursue holiness and peace with all people so that no one will miss seeing God. As children of God, we are called to live holy lives that bring glory to Him and copy Jesus' perfect obedience. We must make seeking holiness and grace-filled peace a top priority when the Holy Spirit shows us areas of bitterness taking root or broken relationships needing restoration. Even when forgiveness feels challenging, we should do the self-denying work of reconciliation when hostility threatens the unity of our community. Though we might try justifying bitterness or passivity saying we deserve justice, God commissioned us as messengers of reconciliation and representatives of Christ’s kingdom - which is defined by righteousness, peace, and joy. So we need to regularly examine our hearts before God to address our sins or offenses given or received. These could limit how we can show people the loving salvation of Jesus. As we ask God to change us each day, our lives will clearly show Jesus' amazing power to transform (Romans 12:18, 2 Corinthians 7:1, 1 Thessalonians 5:23).

Food for thought: Is there any unresolved conflict I need to address? Do my actions and attitudes reflect the holiness of God?

  1. Show God’s grace rather than Bitterness and Impurity so that You Do Not Forfeit the Blessings of God (vv. 15-17): In these verses, the author warns believers about the dangers of bitterness and impurity, which can defile others within the church community. In cautioning about bitterness and impurity, the writer spotlights sins that can sadly infect a faith community when believers harbor grudges, jealousy, or self-righteous judgement rather than graciously giving the forgiveness we've received. Just as Esau traded his birthright for temporary gratification, we can forfeit spiritual blessings and intimacy with Christ when we tolerate attitudes and behaviors that dishonor God and His temples. But by God’s power, we can put off the old self-serving ways and demonstrate Christ’s new creations empowered to extend undeserved grace. As we yield areas of weakness to Jesus daily and interdependently lean on brothers and sisters in times of temptation, the Spirit empowers us to walk in freedom from that which mastered us. For the Lord disciplines those He loves. And to complete the work He began, He reminds us to fix our eyes on Jesus - not comparing or complaining but rejoicing as we encourage one another toward maturity (Ephesians 4:31-32, 1 Corinthians 6:18, Colossians 3:5).

Food for thought: Is there any bitterness I am harboring towards another person? Have my relationships and behaviors been completely pure before God recently?

  1. Do Not Refuse God's Kingdom When He Speaks (vv. 22-27): In these verses, the writer contrasts the fear and terror of hearing God's voice at Mount Sinai during the giving of Old Testament Law, versus the gracious invitation believers now have to draw near to God because of Christ's work. As New Testament believers, we must not refuse God's gracious offer to be part of His eternal kingdom through repenting of sin and trusting in Jesus. If the Israelites did not escape judgment for rejecting God's word, how much more will we be held accountable for rejecting the full revelation of truth we have received in Christ? We serve a holy, righteous, and consuming fire who calls us to worship Him with our entire lives. His word cuts deeply, exposing the thoughts and intentions of our hearts. We must respond rightly by turning from sin and trusting wholly in Christ’s finished work (Acts 7:51, Hebrews 3:12, Hebrews 10:26-27).

Food for thought: Have I truly listened to what God is speaking through His word? Does my lifestyle demonstrate full acceptance of His kingdom reign?

  1. Worship God with Reverence and Awe (vv. 28-29): As these concluding verses indicate, our response to receiving an unshakable kingdom through Jesus Christ should be worshipping and serving God wholeheartedly throughout our lives with reverence and awe. Our God is described as a consuming fire who deserves our highest adoration, respect, submission, and praise. Through understanding the absolute holiness and righteousness of God as revealed perfectly in Christ, we can abandon flippant attitudes, careless living, and empty words offered to the Lord. May we bow in His presence with deepest reverence! May we submit to His ways with utmost humility! May we exalt His name with greatest joy! Our God is greatly to be feared and praised above all other gods. His unmatched majesty and glory demand that we proclaim “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord Almighty! The whole earth is filled with His glory!” (Psalm 96:9, Hebrews 13:15, 1 Peter 1:17, Isaiah 6:3).

Food for thought: Does my worship reflect deep reverence and awe for who God is? Have I been offering God shallow words and living, or genuine heartfelt praise demonstrated through a God-honoring life? This passage reminds us of God's passionate desire for His children to wholeheartedly pursue Christlike maturity and holiness. This requires fixing our eyes on Jesus, allowing Scripture to cut deeply and expose areas not yet surrendered, and maintaining intimate fellowship with God and one another.  It is so easy over time to develop flippant attitudes, tolerate sinful behaviors, harbor hidden bitterness, or offer God empty, religious words. But as recipients of His vast mercy and grace, we are called to so much more. We are called to live as kingdom ambassadors - extending the righteousness, peace, and joy of Christ to everyone around us.  We should always be willing to take a fresh look at the worth of His eternal, unshakable kingdom so that fleeting comforts grow dim. And from grateful hearts, may our lives overflow with worship through everyday obedience as we run hard after holiness.  One day we will stand before the consuming fire of God almighty. On that day, may the Lord say to each of us, “You pursued Me with reverence and passion. Enter into the joy of your Master!" Until then, may we encourage one another daily to fix our eyes on Jesus - surrendering all for the supreme treasure of knowing Him. Prayer Dear Heavenly Father, I pray that you would help me pursue holiness with my whole heart, fixing my eyes on Jesus to run this race with endurance. I pray that you would expose any areas of sin or impurity in my life and lead me to repentance as I encounter Your Word. Grow humility and reverence within me until I live every moment in awe of you. I pray that you would make me an ambassador of reconciliation, seeking peace and extending grace in my relationships even when it’s challenging. Empower me to wholeheartedly worship you through obedient surrender. Use my life to demonstrate the righteousness, joy and peace of Your eternal kingdom found in Christ alone. Guard me from flippant attitudes or religious rituals devoid of intimacy with you. Ignite fresh passion as I glimpse the majesty of Your glory. Remind me often of the sanctifying discipline of a Father who loves me. May I encourage others to fix their eyes on Jesus as we journey towards maturity together. I pray these things in the most precious name of Jesus, Amen.

Hebrews 12:14 – “Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.” With His Blessings, Pastor Corby

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