Without holiness no one will see the Lord. Heb. 12:14
What does this passage mean? To see the Lord, you must be holy. A person cannot be with Jesus, experience closeness with Christ, without personal holiness. It almost seems rather matter of fact, right? Being with Jesus = Personal Holiness. I must be holy to see the Lord. Okay, so how often do we really stop and consider the implications of this passage. How does one become holy?
We must not only desire it, but we must work at it.
The holiness that the writer of Hebrews mentions is not imputed holiness, but holiness that followers of Christ by the grace of the Holy Spirit put forth effort and foster. We must work for holiness. We must seek the Holy Spirit’s wisdom to see into our own souls so as to determine our areas of weakness. Then, by His power, we work at those areas. Maybe the way we speak is a major issue. Last night, I was reading in Thomas Merton’s Wisdom form the Desert (get this book!) about the 4th century desert monks. One monk carried a stone about in his mouth for three years so as to teach him how to be silent. Maybe possessions have made inroads to the soul. One monk sold all he had except for three books he loved to read. An Elder told him to continue his journey to holiness by riding himself of those three beloved possessions. (I don’t want anyone to tell me to sell my books…. I’ve got a major issue here!)
Those are just two examples, but they highlight something important. Holiness is worked for, not imputed. If we are not working to cultivate the Kingdom of God in our own lives personally, how in the world could we ever hope to bring about the Kingdom of God to our community? Christ owned the cosmos, but possessed nothing. How do I follow suit? Christ gave up sleep to pray, how often to I rise early to “sing my morning hymn”? Christ fasted, and mastered his physical passions. Have I even begun to master my passions?
If we are not working for holiness, why not? Is Jesus our “get out of hell free” card? I don’t think it will work that way. Hebrews 12:14 doesn’t either. The writer there is incredibly clear. Without holiness, no man shall see the Lord. I believe we are fooling ourselves if we think we say we follow Christ, but are not actively, vociferously pursuing holiness.
Lord, have mercy.
Grant us the grace of the Spirit and foster in us a burning zeal for holiness. For, without holiness we will not see the Lord.
*Image from public domain.