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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder

FOLLOW PEACE AND HOLINESS

Hebrews 12:14-16 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: 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; lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright.

Writing to the Hebrew Christians, the author says to follow peace with all men. In this context the intent could very well be that there was dissension between Jewish and Gentile Christians, and it was to be brought to a peaceable conclusion. Peace among all Christians is the same peace that Paul taught the churches of Rome. Although he told them that, where it waspossible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men (Rom. 12:18), he also wrote that it was especially true that peace was required within the body of Christ. He told them: Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another (Rom. 14:19). In this context, peace among the children of God, is not arbitrary, rather, it is a commandment, given by God, through His servant, the apostle Paul.

The Jewish people, as a nation, were told to seek peace, and pursue it (Psalm 34:14). As a family of God's children, the Israelites were taught the necessity of unity. Again the Psalmist wrote, Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity (Psalm 133:1)! Today, the children of God make up the church of Christ. To be called a child of God, one must do as much as lieth in you, (to) live peaceably with all men (Rom. 12:18). We know this to be true because the Head of the church, Jesus Christ, commands it. This is His teaching: Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God (Matt. 5:9). A child of God is a peacemaker! James wrote that the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace (James 3:18). There is a wonderful thought in a song that says, "Let there be peace, and let it begin with me." As long as people give in to the influence of Satan, hatred will never be eliminated, and world peace will never be achieved. But for those that desire to see the Lord, and have a hope of eternal salvation, they must follow peace with all men.

To enter heaven and be with the Lord, peace alone is not sufficient. We must also follow a life of holiness. Children of God are to be holy. They are to be saints that have removed worldliness from their character. They are to be consecrated to God; devoted to His will. When one becomes a Christian they become servants of God, ...(bear) fruit unto holiness, and in the end enjoy the hope of everlasting life (See Rom. 6:22). As a child of God we must cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God (2 Cor. 7:1b).

God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Pet. 3:9b). God's call goes out to all people of the world to come to Him through His Son, Jesus Christ; to be baptized into His body for the remission of sins. He calls us unto holiness (1 Thess. 4:7b). God is holy. Therefore to become His child one must also be holy (See 1 Pet. 1:15-16). The lesson text leaves no doubt. In order to see the Lord, that is, to dwell with God in heaven, one must become a Christian and follow peace with all men, and holiness. The apostle, John, brought this same message to us by telling us to follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God (3 John 11).

It takes diligence on the part of every Christian to follow peace and holiness. Eternal salvation is available to every child of God, but it is not assured. The lesson text teaches us that we can fail to become, and remain, obedient to the will of God. Be assured of this: as Christians, we cannot bring sin into the presence of God in heaven; we must be accompanied by peace and holiness. Diligence is necessary to recognize, and avoid, the temptations of the world around us. They will not vanish and go away on their own, but God has given us the ability to avoid them and keep them from our lives. Through the avenue of prayer, God tells us to seek His forgiveness when we falter and give in to sin.

The Christian heart must be free from sin. Our Savior told us that only the pure in heart ...shall see God (Matt. 5:8). We are warned to diligently recognize and avoid any root of bitterness springing up to trouble you. False teachers are all around us; they are even found within the body of Christ. Beware! Let them not turn you away from a godly life of peace and holiness, nor from God's promise of eternal life in heaven, for there we shall see Him.