The Pursuit of Holiness | Hebrews 12

Welcome to Real Life. What are you pursuing?
Run swiftly toward holiness,
for those who are not holy will not see the Lord.
Hebrews 12:14 TPT
Dark clouds gather. A storm brews. I try. But nothing I do-say-think seems good enough, pure enough for a holy God. Holiness feels daunting at times—like scaling One World Trade Center!

When I think this way, I'm caught in an old trap. I’m attempting holiness in my own strength. And it is impossible! It's also a form of legalism.
“Legalism is a matter of the heart, (legalism is) not obedience to God and radical love for others. Legalism is when we’re trying to earn God’s favor to be saved, not when we’re following Jesus because we’re saved by grace.”
 –John Piper[1]
Legalism places us back on Mt. Sinai. The stormy mountain is ablaze. The ground quakes. God’s voice booms like thunder. “Please don’t speak!” we beg, trembling. “Who can stand before you?” In our own strength, we try. We offer endless sacrifices. But nothing removes the stain of guilt and shame. On Sinai, we’re doomed to wrath and judgment.

Because apart from Christ, we cannot be good enough, pure enough. We’re stuck on Sinai. We need a savior. At the cross, we trade our mess for Christ’s righteousness. He empowers us to pursue holiness. Yes, we still fall, mess up, sin. But when we do, God’s not waiting with thunder and lightning. He’s waiting with arms open wide. (Remember the prodigal.)

Pursuing holiness takes effort! Making time to read his Word and understand his precepts. Developing a habit of prayer. Gathering with other believers and learning to pursue holiness together. Choosing to sow peace rather than strife. Forgiving before bitterness takes root. And running from immorality.[2]

Though it takes effort, pursuing holiness is not scaling One World Trade Center. Instead, we rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to lift us there. It's riding the elevator to the skyscraper’s observation deck. Our jaws drop at the view. Our vision expanded by eyes, heart, and a spirit made new.

Pursuing holiness is pursuing God. He’s not waiting on stormy Mt. Sinai. He’s on Mt. Zion. The mountain glistens with the brilliance of a million suns. Thousands of angels joyfully assembly there. Jesus Christ welcomes us. His one sacrifice forever cleansed our guilt and shame. The Almighty Judge pronounces us not-guilty. We step into the Church of the Firstborn assured we belong. Our names are written in his scroll. The ground is firm under our feet. We’re holy, dearly-loved citizens of an unshakable kingdom.[3] Why would we ever return to Sinai?

Jesus Christ invites us each to Mount Zion. Let’s not refuse. Let’s not remain hopelessly stuck on Sinai. One day, the old stormy mountain will cease to exist. All that can be shaken will be removed. Let’s run swiftly toward holiness!

Dear Father-God,
Help us know and love you more.
Teach us to pursue holiness by pursuing you.
Consume in us all that is selfish, ugly, displeasing to you.
And make us holy.
We ask in Jesus name. Amen.

Take it further...Read Hebrews 12:14-29.

[2] Hebrews 12:14-16
[3] Colossians 3:12
[4] James 2:10

Photo Credit: 
1) By Kai Brinker from Brooklyn, United States - One World Trade Center, CC BY-SA 2.0,
2)  By Spencer Platt, Getty Images, View from One World Trade Center -- nf-wtc-nyc-0402 


  1. Woke to this. Thank you! I always think in terms of mountains. Need to rely on God to show the way and provide the energy. :)

    1. You're welcome, Kelly. I always loved this comparison between Sinai and Zion in Hebrews. But I really wrestled with how to write about. I'm glad it encouraged you!

  2. Good article something to think about for sure


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