STUDIES IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
“Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without
which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone
fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one
morsel of food sold his birthright.”
When we read the first verse of this passage, we may be tempted to throw up our hands in despair. It’s hard enough to pursue peace in a world that is anything but peaceful. But then, we are also called to pursue holiness? That seems like an impossible task. We can never hope to be perfectly holy this side of heaven.
But we need to keep the first eleven chapters of Hebrews in mind. They explain how our holiness has been accomplished for us by Jesus. He, as the Savior, is the One Who is holy and perfect and gave that holy and perfect life in exchange for ours. 2 Corinthians 5:21 beautifully states this fact: “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” Now with that exchange having taken place, we are to live in that peace and comfort of the Gospel and pursue that holiness of Christ. It is in that holiness of Christ, won on the cross of Calvary, that you and I now spend each and every day of our lives.
We pursue holiness by “looking unto Jesus” (Hebrews 12:2)—by staying connected to Him through the means of grace. As we stay connected to our Savior, we stay focused on the fact that there is nothing more precious than the grace of God. There is nothing more precious than knowing that our sins are forgiven through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Pursuing holiness keeps our focus where it should be: on eternity.
Sadly, we see many examples of Christians who become stagnant in their faith and stop pursuing holiness. They leave behind the daily reading of Scripture. They make do with occasional church attendance. They are satisfied never to speak the name of God save in the rote recitation of table prayers. Such an attitude is not fitting for children of God and will almost certainly lead to problems that were experienced by others who did not pursue holiness.
An example of such a person is Esau, “who for one morsel of food sold his birthright.” This may not seem like much of a sin, but consider the importance of this birthright. This birthright included more than just material blessings, it included spiritual blessings. Esau did not consider how the birthright was a special blessing that would pass down, in his family, the promise of the coming Savior. He was more concerned about the immediate satisfaction of his physical needs. The “here and now” was more important to him than the far-off future. The things of God did not interest Esau, and so he is rightly called a “profane person.”
Be on guard lest you find yourself to be a profane person concerned more about the things of this world than the things of God. Pray that the Holy Spirit would lead you to pursue holiness by treasuring Jesus as
your Savior, considering Him and His Word your number one priority, “lest anyone fall short of the grace of God.”
Robert Sauers is pastor of Luther Memorial Church in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, and a member of the CLC Board of Missions