Submitted Date 07/13/2019

Once again, this verse forms a complete sentence, but taking it alone misses the conditional phrases following hard after it, which clarify what is meant by both peace and holiness in verse 14.

Look at the first phrase, "Pursue peace with all people." This is essentially a paraphrase of the psalm of David, which says, "Depart from evil and do good;/Seek peace and pursue it." (Psalms‬ ‭34:14‬ ‭NKJV‬‬) Paul echoes the same sentiment, writing to the Romans, "If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men." (Romans‬ ‭12:18‬ ‭NKJV‬‬)

Unfortunately, it is not always possible to live peaceably, especially when one's standards are at odds with society. That's were the second part of of verse 14 comes into play; ". . . (pursue) holiness, without which no one will see the Lord . . .."

That which is holy is set apart, or separate. To consecrate something as holy unto the Lord in the Old Testament sometimes meant its utter destruction but always meant using it for nothing but the spiritual purpose to which it was designated. An appeal to live holy lives, then, is not simply encouraging good behavior. It is a a recognition that we are unlike others, and must be willing to be recognized as such, even if it means being considered, "different."

Why is holiness important? The verses which follow tell us, ". . . looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright." (‭verses 15-16‬‬‬)

Failure to pursue holiness, then, can result in 1) failure to attain to the God's best for us; 2) allowing resentment to pollute the spirits of entire congregations; and 3) a lifestyle marked with carelessness as regards such crucial issues as sexual behavior, one's speech and one's heritage. There's really too much to unpack in this format. Suffice it to say, these consequences can be mitigated as we run hard after a lifestyle of peaceful consecration to the things of God.

This, then, is our goal. Live at peace with all men while maintaining the standards set for us in scripture, willing to be considered off-kilter with society when necessary to preserve commitment to our Lord. Can we do it? Not in our own strength; that's why we have the Holy Spirit to come alongside and help.


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