The Worst Perils of the Christian Life
Hebrews 12:14, 15
Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:

It may be presumed that these people suffering persecution are somewhat discontented and murmuring under it. Thus persecution may become a temptation; it may bulk so largely before the eye as to hide far worse perils. It would almost seem as if the writer had the Beatitudes in mind. He has been seeking to illustrate the blessedness of those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake. And now in ver. 14 he urges not to lose the blessedness of the peacemaker, and the blessedness of those who are made able to look on God. There are four important counsels in these two verses.

I. THE DILIGENT PURSUIT OF PEACE. This is a recommendation both to the individual and the Church. The maltreated man is very likely to have a settled feeling of anger against the man who maltreats him. That we should behave rightly under suffering is far more important than that we should escape suffering. Notice the intensive force of the verb. The same verb is used to signify persecution. The same pursuing energy that persecutors employed against Christians was to be employed by Christians themselves in preserving a feeling of settled peace towards the persecutors. Animosity and irritation towards others, however justified it may seem by their conduct, will destroy all peace in our own hearts. Even when the necessities of duty bring us into marked controversy with others, we must in the very height of the dispute show that our aim is concord, not discord.

II. THE EQUALLY DILIGENT PURSUIT OF HOLINESS. Holiness here may be taken as the equivalent of what is elsewhere called purity of heart. That is the blessedness of the pure in heart that they are made able to look on God. Our right state towards all men is to have perfectly peaceful inclinations towards them, and doing everything that shall incline them to reciprocate the peace. Our right state towards God is to have a heart perfectly consecrated to him. And the diligent pursuit of peace and holiness must go together. You cannot follow the one without following the other. That can be no true peace towards man which is gotten by compromising our position towards God. Nor can that be true holiness which is very profuse in services to God and yet leaves room to indulge animosities toward man.

III. WATCHFULNESS TO MAKE FULL USE OF THE DIVINE GRACE. We must not lose the loving favor of God. We must keep in such paths of spiritual courage and enterprise as will preserve to us continually his loving smile. What shall we be if God be against us? It will be a poor compensation to escape trial, if at the same time we miss God's help out of our life.

IV. WATCHFULNESS TO STOP THE BEGINNINGS OF CHURCH MISCHIEF. Watch the Christian community as you would watch a garden. You have not only to nourish what has been planted so that it may bring forth the peaceable fruits of righteousness, but you must watch against the entrance of noxious plants. In a large garden something of this kind may easily make headway unless there be the most vigilant eye upon it. All mischief must be stopped in the very beginning, if possible. - Y.

Parallel Verses
KJV: Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:

WEB: Follow after peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no man will see the Lord,

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