"You must continually pursue peace and holiness with all, without which no one will see the Lord." (Heb. 12:14, One New Man Bible)
The term holiness, hagiasmos in Greek, means more than a ritual demarcation of times and places, such as a high holy day or a specific place and things like a mountain, building, or Temple furnishing. Instead, the writer's use of holiness means transforming a life dedicated to God. Sanctification can be pursued in the human search for full entry into the presence of the one who, through Christ, is already dwelling within them. Holiness, in Hebrews 12:14, is the pursuit of God, the cruciformity of man to Christ, and the process of the Holy Spirit ridding one's life of sinful desires and inclinations. To put it simply, holiness is the rejection of sin in the heartfelt pursuit of God. It is to be a God-Chaser. The incredible thing about being a God-Chaser is when He allows Himself to be caught by you. That is the place where the impossible becomes real, and the Shekina overcomes us. This is where true revival manifests. It is where each believer is called to walk (Matt. 7:7, Jer. 29:13)
Peter reiterated God's directive for holiness when he stated, "As children of obedience, not being molded in ignorance by your former desires but just as the One Who called you is holy, so now you must be holy in all your conduct because it has been written that, 'You will be holy because I AM holy." (1 Pet. 1:14-16, Lev. 11:44,45; 19:2; 20:7). This section in 1 Peter, comprised of verses 13-25, is a call to holiness. In essence, Peter is saying to prepare our minds, be sober-minded, set our hope on God's amazing grace, don't be conformed to the secular world's system, and live a life that is continually being transformed into Christ's thoughts, words, and deeds. We live in a dark, sinful world, yet we must not allow the circumstances of life to dictate our heavenly focus or jeopardize our eternal reward. We are to set and keep our minds on heavenly things, not on the cares, pride, or riches of life (Col. 3:2). Because God is the definition of holiness, if we are to be conformed to the image of Christ, we must likewise be defined by holiness.
How would others define you if they were asked? Would they say you are patient, kind, loving, and peaceful? Or would they use less flattering terms to describe your nature to others? Are the fruits of the Spirit evident (Gal. 5:22-23), or are your branches barren and dry?
Sadly, many doctrines from churches in America reject the notion of sin in a believer's life post-conversion as something that should be shunned (Hyper-Grace Theology and Christian Universalism, to name two false doctrines that teach such a fallacy), failing to teach Sanctification, or Holiness, as a necessary Christian virtue. Other mainstream denominations embrace the ever-changing tides of social and political agendas to maintain a sense of cultural relevancy (United Methodist Church embracing homosexuality and Southern Baptist Convention embracing Critical Race Theory, to name two). A Barna Poll researching American Christian concepts of basic Christian doctrine concluded that 55% of American Christians strongly agree that the Bible is accurate in everything it teaches (Infallible). 9% strongly disagree, 13% somewhat disagree, and 5% are unsure. If 27% of self-proclaimed American Christians do not understand that the Word of God is infallible, then 1 in 4 "Christians" will naturally be more influenced by the culture (society, politics, education, and the arts), viewing culture as more relevant than God in daily life. This poll was conducted in 2009, and the decline of Christianity in America has only accelerated in the past 13 years. As defined by God in scripture, Holiness is lacking in the Church in both teaching and practice, and the decline of Christianity in America is a sad commentary on that reality.
In our Home Church network, holiness is strongly recommended as a centerpiece of doctrine, teaching, and living. Christians must be conformed to the image of Christ in thought, words, and deeds. Many home church members have fled from the institutional Egypt of modern-American Christianity. They are worn out from the continuous biblical compromises to appease a sinful social and political system far removed from Christ's teachings. Many are spiritually starving for sound biblical doctrine, but like a malnourished child, they tend to reject the nourishment healthy food brings at first. But as the caregiver patiently feeds them, health begins to be restored. As time passes, the once malnourished and sickly child becomes healthy and full of life again. This is the patience and care home church leaders must demonstrate. This is the spiritual triage center many of you have established in caring for those suffering spiritual hurt and malnourishment from the institutional leaders they were once under. Let your lives be an example of holiness for all to see, and let holiness be a foundational doctrine used to encourage, strengthen, and challenge the faith of those the Lord has entrusted to your care. For as the author of Hebrews writes, holiness is the key to seeing God.