"THE EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS"
The Pursuit Of Peace And Holiness (He 12:12-17)
1. In "Running The Race Of Faith" (He 12:1-3 ), we saw the need to…
a. Lay aside things that would hinder us, especially the sin of
b. Have endurance, even as Jesus endured hostility and the cross
c. Focus our gaze on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith,
whose own example should encourage us not to become weary and
2. After reminding his readers of the value of the Lord’s chastening,
the author of Hebrews returns to the metaphor of "running"…
a. With a call to "run with style" – He 12:12-13
b. With instructions to pursue peace and holiness – He 12:14
c. With a word of caution, appealing to the example of Esau – He 12:15-17
3. One way to describe the Christian "race", then, is "The Pursuit Of
Peace And Holiness"
a. How well are you doing in your pursuit?
b. Do you know what it is you are to be running after?
c. Are you aware of the possible pitfalls that can hinder you?
[To encourage excellence in regards to our pursuit, let’s take a closer
look at the passage, beginning with…]
I. MAKING PREPARATION FOR OUR PURSUIT (Vs 12-13)
A. A CALL TO "RUN WITH STYLE"…
1. We are to "strengthen"…
a. "the hands which hang down"
b. "the feeble knees"
— A common figure of speech (Job 4:3-4; Isa 35:3), calling us
to shake off all weariness, to be firm and strong
2. We are to "make straight paths" for our feet, so that…
a. "what is lame may not be dislocated"
b. "but rather be healed"
— Another common expression (Isa 40:3-4), encouraging us to
remove all that would hinder our progress (especially if we
B. THE IMPLICATIONS OF THIS CALL…
1. First, we must respond to this call to action
a. This is something "we" are being called to do
b. We can’t expect God to do it all!
c. While God will certainly help us, we must make the effort
– cf. Ph 2:12-13
2. This call to action is not limited to strengthening just
a. Certainly there is the personal application
b. But as concerned Christians, we should seek to:
1) "strengthen the hands…and feeble knees" of others
2) "make straight paths" for others – cf. 1 Th 5:14
c. Just as those who are "spiritual" should be concerned for
the weakness of others – Ga 6:1
[In a way, this call is similar to the one the Lord gave to Joshua
(Josh 1:6-9), which Joshua later gave to Israel (Josh 23:6; He 12:11).
Shall we heed the call to "be strong and very courageous", i.e., to
"run with style"?
Now, for some thoughts about…]
II. THE GOAL OF OUR PURSUIT (v 14)
A. PEACE WITH ALL MEN…
1. We should not be surprised to read that we are to "pursue
a. Jesus is "The Prince of Peace" – Isa 9:6
b. He died to make peace possible: with God, and with man
– Ro 5:1; Ep 2:13-17
c. He taught that peacemakers will be called the children of
God – Mt 5:9
d. A key element of the kingdom of God is peace – Ro 14:17-18
— Therefore, we are to pursue peace with all men –
Ro 14:19; Ro 12:18
2. How does one "pursue peace with all men"?
a. By seeking peace with God first – Prov 16:7
1) We must first make our relationship with God what it
ought to be
2) Through Jesus, we can be at peace with God – Ro 5:1
b. Letting the peace of God rule in our hearts – Col 3:15
1) The Lord is able to "give you peace always in every way"
– 2 Th 3:16
2) How the Lord imparts peace:
a) Through His Word – Psa 119:165
b) Through prayer – Ph 4:6-7
— If one is not at peace with himself, it is unlikely he
can be at peace with others
c. By doing things that make for peace – Ro 14:19
1) Such as being considerate of their conscience – Ro 14:13-21
2) Seeking unity with compassion, love, tenderness, and
courtesy; willing to respond to evil or reviling with a
blessing – cf. 1 Pe 3:8-11
B. HOLINESS, WITHOUT WHICH NO ONE WILL SEE THE LORD…
1. As God is holy, so His children must be holy – 1 Pe 1:14-16;
1 Th 4:7
2. How can one "pursue holiness…"?
a. True holiness (sanctification) comes through:
1) Faith in Jesus – Ac 26:18; cf. He 10:10; He 10:14
2) The work of the Holy Spirit – 1 Co 6:11; 2 Th 2:13;
cf. Ti 3:5
3) The Word of God – Jn 17:17; Jn 17:19
4) Obedience to the Gospel call – 1 Pet 1:2
b. We cooperate with God in pursuing holiness by
1) Offering ourselves as "slaves of righteousness" – Ro 6:19-22
2) Perfecting holiness in the fear of God – 2 Cor 7:1
a) Which includes cleansing ourselves from all
"filthiness of the flesh and spirit" – 2 Co 7:1
b) Also putting on the "new man…in true righteousness
and holiness" – Ep 4:24; cf. Co 3:9-14
[In many respects, this is what the Christian life is all about:
pursuing peace and holiness. How successful we are will depend on how
diligently we avoid…]
III. PITFALLS THAT HINDER OUR PURSUIT (He 12:15-17)
A. FALLING SHORT OF THE GRACE OF GOD…
1. Without God’s grace, none can be saved, pursue peace, or have
the holiness necessary to see God.
2. But do Christians need to concern themselves with falling from
a. The warning not to neglect our great salvation – He 2:1-3
b. The warning not to be hardened by sin – He 3:12-14
c. The warning to be diligent – He 4:1; He 4:11 cf. 2 Pe 1:10
d. The warning against willful sin – He 10:26-31
e. The warning not to receive God’s grace in vain – 2 Co 6:1
f. The warning not to fall from grace – Ga 5:4
g. The warning to "look to yourselves, that we do not lose
those things we worked for…" – 2 Jn v8
— Indeed, if there were no possibility for one to "fall short
of the grace of God", then there would be no need for us to
be "looking diligently"
3. For the Christian, however, God’s grace can be just a prayer
away – cf. He 4:16
B. LETTING A ROOT OF BITTERNESS TO SPRING UP…
1. Bitterness can be a stumbling block in our pursuit of peace
a. It destroys the peace within the person who harbors it
(modern medicine has shown that emotions like bitterness
and anger can cause problems such as headaches, backaches,
allergic disorders, ulcers, high blood pressure, and heart
b. It can destroy the peace in the congregation where it
2. It also becomes a stumbling block in our pursuit of holiness,
for the problems it creates cause many to become "defiled"
— If we are going to "make straight paths for your feet", then
we need to clip any root of bitterness "in the bud"!
C. BECOMING A FORNICATOR OR PROFANE PERSON…
1. Fornication is certainly a pitfall to avoid…
a. Fornication is a generic term for any sort of sexual
immorality (including pre-marital sex, adultery,
b. It is contrary to God’s will regarding our sanctification
– 1 Th 4:3-8
1) Later, we will read in Hebrews where God will judge
fornicators – He 13:4
2) It will keep one out of the kingdom of heaven –
1 Cor 6:9-10; Ga 5:19-21
— Therefore, let us "Flee fornication!" – 1 Co 6:18
2. We must also not become a "profane person"…
a. "A worldly person who profanes holy privileges by placing
on them a worldly estimate." (B. W. Johnson)
b. One does not have to overtly wicked; they can displease God
by simply devaluing that which is important to Him!
c. Such was the case with Esau… – cf. Gen 25:29-34
1) There is no indication that he was a fornicator
2) But he was a profane person because he did not proper
estimate the value of his birthright
3) Though he later wanted the blessings of the birthright,
it was too late; despite his tears, it was too late to
change his father’s mind ("he found no place for
d. We can become "profane" by devaluing our spiritual
1) In Christ, we have a spiritual birthright (redemption,
fellowship with God, the hope of eternal life)
2) But we can let careers, hobbies, friends, even families,
come between us and the things of God
— Are we willing to "sell our birthright" for "one morsel
1. As we run the race of faith, peace with others and holiness before
God should be our goal
2. To run the race with "style", we need to…
a. Get in the proper form (lift the hands, strengthen the knees),
helping one another to do so
b. Watch out for the pitfalls that can hinder us in our pursuit,
1) Not utilizing God’s grace to help you in your race
2) Allowing bitterness to become a stumbling block
3) Becoming a fornicator or profane person
As we run this "race", the words of the apostle Paul are appropriate…
"Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one
receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.
And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all
things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for
an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with
uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I
discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I
have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified."
(1 Co 9:24-27)
Are you running in such a way as to obtain the imperishable crown?