November 15: “Pursuing Holiness”

6 Minute Read

Be Still

To the best of your ability, get rid of all distractions. Take a couple of minutes to breathe deeply, to quiet yourself in the Lord’s presence. Then, prayerfully ask the Lord to speak to you in this time and let Him know that you will be listening and will make whatever adjustments He will reveal to you.

Today’s Bible Reading:

Ezekiel 31:1–32:32
Hebrews 12:14-29
Psalms 113:1–114:8
Proverbs 27:18-20

Listen to the Lord

Slowly and reflectively read the following verses and listen to what God will say to you through them. Then, consider writing down any insights He reveals to you.

Hebrews 12:14 (NLT): “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.”

Reflections from Scripture:

When we read verses like Hebrews 12:14, we may scratch our heads in bewilderment. The Bible is clear that we are saved grace alone. We cannot earn it, and we do not deserve it. We simply receive God’s gift of forgiveness and eternal life by grace through faith.

So, when we see that chasing after holiness is a determining factor of whether we will “see the Lord” (a.k.a. spend eternity with Him in Heaven), we wonder what it means. Given our conviction that Scripture does not contradict itself and given the fact that the Bible teaches only salvation by grace, what does Hebrews 12:14 mean?

Hebrews 12:14 (NLT): “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.”

Simply put, those who are truly saved will one day be made perfectly holy when we arrive in Heaven. Yet, those who are genuinely saved are not content to wait until Heaven to cultivate personal holiness. With a growing love for God in their hearts and desiring to demonstrate that love by submissive obedience, they pursue righteousness.

In determining whether or not we are saved, someone could easily ask us: “Are you more like Jesus now than when you first believed? Are you pursuing holiness?” If the answer is no, then our failure to pursue holiness almost certainly demonstrates that we are not saved. A desire and our progress in achieving personal holiness is a tell-tell sign that we belong to Jesus.

So Hebrews 12:14 doesn’t teach a “works salvation.” It doesn’t tell us that we had better work at getting holy because if we don’t, we can’t go to Heaven. Instead, it is essentially assuming that if someone is genuinely saved, they will pursue holiness. So, it encourages believers to get busy becoming more like Jesus.

Hebrews 12:14 (NLT): “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.”

Spend Time in Prayer

Lord Jesus, thank You first and foremost for saving me and crediting me with Your perfect righteousness when I first believed. But I’m not content to rest in that internal work. I want to demonstrate obedience and consecration to You in my heart, mind, words, actions, … everything! Help me, Lord Jesus, as I cultivate personal holiness, anticipating the day when You will call me home, and I will never again struggle with sin and disobedience. I pray this in Your Name, Amen.


Matt Ellis is the pastor of First Baptist Church in Polk City, Florida (fbcpolkcity.com). His latest book is God’s Grace in the Real World. Connect with him on FacebookTwitter, or LinkedIn.

Photo by Andrea Leopardi on Unsplash

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I have an incredible wife that God gave to me on May 10, 1997. Since then, the Lord has blessed us with three wonderful boys. I am also the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Polk City, Florida.

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