This verse in the book of Hebrews (12:14) makes it sound as though if you are not living up to some high standard of holiness, you will not see heaven. One modern day commentary states the following about this verse, “If a person is not growing more holy, he is not saved”. I often wonder how people can make statements like this.
What about the Corinthians who died due to God’s discipline? (I Cor. 11:30) They weren’t very holy. Where they saved? What about those who had retrogressed in faith in Hebrews? (Heb. 5:12) What about those in the Corinthian church who had failed to turn from certain sins? (II Cor. 12:21) How does one judge how much holiness is required? In my humble opinion, this is an incorrect understanding of this verse.
What is holiness?
The word ‘holiness’ means separated unto God. Often it is translated as sanctification. When used of people, it has the idea of being set apart unto God.
How does one achieve positional holiness?
When a person receives Christ as Savior, that individual immediately has a holy standing before God. It is called positional holiness. The carnal Christians in Corinth “were sanctified” [holy]. (I Cor. 6:11) The moment a person trusts in Christ, he or she has perfect holiness to enter into God’s presence.
Why Holiness is not Automatic
However, this doesn’t mean that holy living is automatic or natural. For the child of God it is a daily battle. “The flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh… so you do not do the things that you wish”. (Gal. 5:17) Some do better than others. Believers can quench the Spirit and grieve the Spirit by unrighteous living. (I Thess. 5:13; Eph. 4:30) If holiness was natural, then why did the apostle Paul admonish the churches and warn them about acting like the world? (Examples: Eph. 5:1-4, 8, 11; Col. 3:5, 8-10; I Thess. 4:3; I Tim. 6:9-10; Titus 3:8-14; Heb. 3:12)
A Connection between Holiness and Discipline
The writer of Hebrews exhorted them to “pursue peace with all people and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord”. (Heb. 12:14) The Lord disciplines us for our profit. Pursuing peace and holiness means that as BELIEVERS, we will accept God’s discipline that we may be partakers of His holiness (Heb. 12:10) This holiness is progressive as one walks with Him. The writer is not holding the threat of hell over their head.
Holiness is a Product of Christ
Holiness is never a product of my flesh. I have no holiness. It also has nothing to do with being ‘religious’. It only happens as I am living out of the resources of the new nature, which is created according to God in true righteousness and holiness. (Eph. 4:24) In other words, I am learning how to surrender to the Spirit of God through the word of God by faith. It is not my holiness, but the very perfect righteousness of Christ living in me and through me. (Gal. 2:20)
What does the verse mean?
Since this verse cannot be speaking about getting into heaven, I believe there are two potential meanings. First, a believer who is not being trained by God’s discipline, which will produce peace and holiness, will not see the Lord operating in his life. Secondly, it could mean that others will not see the Lord, if as believers, we are not living at peace and exhibiting a holy life. When a believer rejects Godly discipline and fails to pursue peace and holiness, it not only affects his life but bleeds into the life of others. But if we are trained by it, it leads to the peaceable fruits of righteousness. (Heb. 12:11)
Assurance of Heaven; be sure that heaven is your final destination.
In 68 pages, Vanished When Millions Go Missing will help you understand the times in which we are living. It will show you how the world is being conditioned for the rapture and the second coming of Christ. It shows from the Bible how not to be left behind.