Hebrews 12:14-17 — Holiness

“Sure, I’m a Christian. I believe the Bible. I believe in Jesus.”

Many people in the church say this, and yet their lives don’t show it. They’re still living the way they always have, and there is no change or growth in their lives.

When pressed on this point, many say, “This is just the way I am. I’ll never change.”

Or, “You’re being too judgmental.”

Or, “Yes, but there are reasons for my actions. Surely God understands.”

Or, “I don’t believe that this part of the Bible is for today. It doesn’t apply to me.”

Or worse, “It doesn’t matter how I live. God’ll forgive me. So I’ll just sin, and ask for forgiveness later.”

But if there is no real change or growth in your life, and these are your attitudes, then it may be time to seriously question your Christianity.

Throughout church history, there have always been tares among the wheat. People who proclaim to be Christians, who even make confessions of faith and are baptized, but were never truly saved.

And that’s why I think the writer of Hebrews says what he does in this passage. He said,

Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. (14-15)

“Without holiness, no one will see the Lord.”

Do you believe that? You cannot live a willfully unholy life and still claim to be a Christian. There is a vast difference between a person who truly mourns for their sin, yearns for holiness, and grows in holiness as time goes on, and the person who simply doesn’t care. The grace of God is for the former. There is no grace left for the latter. How can you claim the grace of God when all the while you’re spitting on the work Jesus did on the cross by indulging in sin? And how can you claim to love God when you don’t care that you’re doing things that hurt him?

There were people like that in the time of Moses. Moses, in fact, warned about people like that, calling them “bitter roots,” and the writer of Hebrews alludes to this.

Moses said,

Make sure there is no man or woman, clan or tribe among you today whose heart turns away from the LORD our God to go and worship the gods of those nations; make sure there is no root among you that produces such bitter poison.

When such a person hears the words of this oath, he invokes a blessing on himself and therefore thinks, “I will be safe, even though I persist in going my own way.”

This will bring disaster on the watered land as well as the dry. The LORD will never be willing to forgive him; his wrath and zeal will burn against that man. All the curses written in this book will fall upon him, and the LORD will blot out his name from under heaven. The LORD will single him out from all the tribes of Israel for disaster, according to all the curses of the covenant written in this Book of the Law. (Deuteronomy 29:18-21)

In short, there were people among the Israelites who thought that because God had made a covenant with the nation, that Israel would be his people and he their God, that they were now safe. That because they were part of the Israelite community, God would bless them, even if they went their own way.

And Moses said, “No. Though they are part of this community, they are not safe. And God will judge them.”

More, he warned, “Expel such a person. His attitude will spread like bitter poison to those around.”

In the same way, many people go to church thinking, “Hey, I’m part of this church community. So God will bless me even if I go my own way the rest of the week.”

And the writer of Hebrews warns them, “That’s not how it works. God will judge you.” And he warns, “Don’t be like Esau who threw away his inheritance by seeking temporal pleasures. Though he later sought the blessing with tears, he was unable to get it.” (16-17)

So it is with us. Many people will stand before God someday and seek the inheritance of the saints, but be unable to get it, though they shed many tears, because while they were here on earth, they spit on Jesus and his work on the cross by living selfish, ungodly, and unholy lives.

So take a good look at yourself. Do your attitudes show a love for God and a desire to be holy as he is holy? Or do you really not care? If it’s the latter, you’re deceiving yourself if you think God will accept you, and you will end up missing the grace of God on the day of judgment.

Where is your heart?


About bkshiroma

I'm from Hawaii, but have been in Japan as a missionary/English teacher since 1995. I'm currently going to a church called Crossroad Nishinomiya, an international church in Nishinomiya, a city right between Kobe and Osaka. Check out their website: crossroad-web.com 私がハワイから来ましたけど1995年に宣教師と英会話の教師として日本に引っ越しました。 今西宮にあるクロスロード西宮という国際の教会に行っています。どうぞ、そのホムページを見てください: crossroad-web.com
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