Holiness Is Hard
Text: Hebrews 12:12-17
Theme: Holiness takes deliberate work and care.
Key verses: “So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong. Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many. Make that no one is immoral or godless like Esau…” (v. 12-16a).
What God said to me: This passage seems suspiciously self-promoting, as though holiness is more dependent on you than it is on me. You can’t work for your salvation. However, you can and must work hard for your sanctification. Yes, I am the author and finisher of your faith, and I will complete the work I started in you. When you arrive in heaven to live with me forever, you will be free from the possibility of sin. You will be glorified, complete, thorough, lacking nothing. But what about while you’re on earth? How many times in my Word are you exhorted to be a light on a hill, to be the salt of the earth, and to desire the milk of the Word in order to grow? Dwayne, you do have an important part to play in your spiritual growth. Even children have to take time to eat in order to live and thrive. Their parents can’t spoon feed them forever–and I won’t force-feed you either. Without holiness you won’t see me. Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” This isn’t about the righteousness required for you to enter heaven and have eternal life. That righteous perfection was imputed into you when you placed your faith and trust in my Son, Jesus Christ. His blood has been applied to your life and has cleansed your sin. You are saved from the penalty of sin once and for all. But holiness–practical, godly living every day–well, that’s another thing. That is as much up to you as it is to me. I have said in my Word for my people to “Be holy, for I am holy.” You can’t pull it off; you can’t live a holy life; you can’t resist temptation and flee youthful lusts apart from me. But if you choose to walk in the Spirit, you won’t fulfill the lusts of the flesh. It is your choice–today and every day. Granted, it’s hard work. But work you must, if you want to see my glory and favor in your life on this earth. So, see you to it.
What I said to God: Lord, this is a difficult and often debated topic. When it comes to holiness, how much are we responsible for and what part do You play? I believe and know You are sovereign. You will accomplish all You set out to do. You are shaping us into Your image. Of that I am certain. However, I’m equally sure, based on so many passages in Your Word, that You expect us to work at being holy and watch out for others in Your Church, to help them be holy as well. Please forgive me when I sit down on the job; when I quit working and watching; when I grow tired of the good fight of faith and allow my flesh to rule me. I pray for my family and for our team at NLWI that we would be careful how we live today. Draw us each to You and place in us a desire to be holy and like You in all our ways.