Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: (Hebrews 12:14, NKJV)
Peace without holiness is a facade that quickly falls away when rattled by the stresses and trials of life. Just as buildings crumble under the force of an earthquake, peace is shattered where holiness does not hold it together. Peace is much more than brokering a truce between enemies. Genuine peace is not merely the absence of conflict. Lasting peace includes the presence of tranquility and harmony. For peace to exist and thrive, Christians must inject the purity of holiness into every situation and relationship. Our text says to chase after peace with everybody. Another inspired text says, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:18). So, let us couple our pursuit of peace with the pursuit of holiness. Allowing holiness to direct our words and deeds will promote the peace we pursue. Unholy anger, bitterness and resentment will only sabotage the peace we intend to seek. Furthermore, without holiness, we will not see the Lord, who is holy (1 Peter 1:13-16).
Your testimonies are very sure; Holiness adorns Your house, O Lord, forever. (Psalm 93:5, NKJV)
God is the eternal sovereign over heaven and earth. As our Creator and Sustainer, we have calm assurance that His commands attest to His power, wisdom, and holiness (see Psalm 19:7). His testimonies are “very sure” (they are certain, without discrepancy, and having no doubt). God’s commandments reflect His holiness and His certainty (James 1:17). The psalmist observed that holiness beautifies the house (temple) of God. The New Testament teaches that God’s house is not the temple Solomon built; it is the church Jesus built (Matthew 16:18; Ephesians 2:20-22; 1 Peter 2:4-5). Like our God, the church is to be holy and without blemish (Ephesians 5:26-27; 1 Peter 1:15-16). As we choose to trust and obey the sure and holy testimonies of God, we put our faith in Him whose “throne is established from of old,” and in Him who is worthy of eternal praise (Psalm 93:2).
16 Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For “the two,” He says, “shall become one flesh.” 17 But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him. 18 Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. (1 Corinthians 6:16–18, NKJV)
These are not pleasant words, nevertheless, their warning is needful. The sexual appetite is strong, and when fed within God-approved marriage, it is undefiled (Heb. 13:4). Every sin we commit begins in the heart (thus, “outside the body”). But, sexual immorality (“fornication,” translated from the Greek word, porneia) is “against the body”, that is, it is opposed to the God-intended purpose of the body (v. 18). After all, your body does not belong to you, but to God (1 Cor. 6:20, 15). Therefore, “glorify God in your body” by fleeing fornication and maintaining sexual purity. Our society is saturated with sexual sins and their allurements. The gospel calls us to the purity of holiness, not to return to the shameful and destructive sins of the flesh (1 Pet. 1:15; 4:1-3). Stolen water is not sweet, and stolen bread feeds the flames of hell (Prov. 9:17-18). While the world indulges itself in this soul-destroying use of their bodies, let us flee fornication and pursue righteousness (2 Tim. 2:22).
3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, 5 not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God (1 Thessalonians 4:3–5, NKJV)
God has always called His people to holiness: “Be holy, for I am holy” (Lev. 11:44; 1 Pet. 1:16). Sanctification is a state of purity, set apart from defilement and dedicated to God and His service. This includes keeping our bodies from fornication (sexual immorality). To do that, the Lord calls on us to refuse the “passion of lust” that generates sexual sins (Matt. 5:28; Mk. 7:21). God expects us to “possess” (gain control over) our bodies by renewing our minds (Rom. 12:2). By doing so we can use our bodies in holy ways that honor God. On the other hand, those who do not know God live to satisfy their fleshly lusts. By doing so, they dishonor themselves and God. But, Christians are called out of sin’s defilement to be holy and pure in mind and body.