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Follow Peace and Purity (Julius Hovan)

by

Julius Hovan

(Transcribed from the Words of Life Radio Program)

     We are delighted that you have joined us today on this Words of Life radio broadcast.  We hope that you are going to stay tuned and surely as we open up the inspired Word of God there will be an encouragement and a blessing for you.  Maybe you are a regular listener to this broadcast and so you are familiar with the various speakers and the good music that comes your way.  And we hope that you will continue to spread the good word about Words of Life.  Or maybe you have just flipped around on the dial and found us for the very first time. We welcome you and trust that you will stay tuned and that we will be able to be a blessing to you from the Word of God.

One verse of Scripture gives us a basis for our message this day from the book of Hebrews chapter 12 and verse 14.  Here is the admonition from the inspired writer.  ,Follow after peace with all men and the sanctification or holiness without which no man shall see the Lord.’

Here is the call for the people of God—and certainly for any others who would become the people of God—a call of those people to do two things. There is a call for them to offer peace and to follow peace as well as purity.  The words sanctification and holiness are also words we might use to describe those two characteristics.  Unfortunately, too often the signs of peace and purity are far from evident. The fact that there are wars and family feuds and difficulties, family breakups, wars among tribes of people, wars between nations. and yes, the prevalence of evil and wickedness and sin. Fracture and failure seems to be the order of the day everywhere we look, the home, the church, among nations all over the world. There is great failure in our experience both personally and socially and nationally.

There is a degree to which we are to experience this peace and purity, of course, until Jesus comes. And in the same degree we are going to, unfortunately, experience the opposite of those because we live in a very wicked world in the midst of what the Bible calls a perverse generation of people.  It is in the midst of that, then, in the midst of darkness, that God calls his people to shine with peace and purity.  The text here really says: Follow, pursue peace and purity.  Other translations put it this way. Run swiftly after, ever strive for, seek earnestly, try earnestly, aim at, or let it be, your ambition. All of those efforts to describe this verse show us the concern, the need for peace and purity and the fact that effort is involved in order to have peace and purity.

I would ask you today in your marriage, in your church, in your community, in your family, wherever and whoever you are, is your desire to live at peace and to live a life of goodness and righteousness and holiness?   Surely that is best, we would agree, for any society to have.  Unfortunately, our efforts sometimes trick us into believing there is a better way, our way above God’s way.  Is it possible for Satan to trick us into thinking that we are doing God’s will when we promote division and unrighteousness?

The fact is God desires purity and he desires peace.  Let us look briefly at this call that is a two fold call. First of all, a call for unity.  Follow after peace.  The story is told of a man visiting the local zoo and as he passed the lion’s cage there in the cage with this vicious, wild animal was a little lamb and he asked the zoo keeper there, “How do you keep that little lamb in that cage?”  And he said, “We have to put a fresh lamb in every day.”  My friends, if you put a lamb and a lion together, the lion is not interested in peace. He is interested in his lunch. We can change people on the inside in order to get the outside changed. That lion is going to be a lion regardless.

Promote peace. Has your account with God been settled out of court? We trust that is the case, that you have peace with God, with the Lord Jesus Christ in a special way. A man who was involved in a bar room fight was drug before the judge and the judge says, “Isn’t this something you could have settled out of court?” He said, “Yes, your honor, that is what we were trying to do when the police arrested us.” Well, that is no way to settle things and to arrive at peace, to become involved in a fight.

The call to unity says: Promote peace and it also says preserve peace.  The Ephesians writer says this regarding this thing that we call peace.  Chapter four in the book of Ephesians and verse three.  Give diligence to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

 

God’s call to his people is that we be preservers of peace. Be diligent in doing it, earnestly strive, continue with eager earnestness. To break the bond of peace is a terrible thing in the sight of God and it interferes with God’s given unity of the Spirit.

We do not want to be guilty of causing the problem rather than bringing peace, causing division and difficulty in the church or in a family, or in the community where live.  We must maintain this peace with our individual lives.

Here is a call to unity, then. What does it follow? Promote peace. Preserve peace.  But Ephesians chapter six and verse 15 tells us to proclaim peace. Listen to the words. You have shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel, the good news of peace.

In where I go and what I do, do I promote peace?  Am I searching for peace? Do I bear a message of peace? That is what the gospel brings. When I learn about Jesus who died for my sins, when I learn he wants to take away my guilt and I am no longer an enemy of God but can now be called a child of God, what a difference that makes.  The Christian proclaims such peace with God and with one another.

It is the purpose of the Words of Life broadcast that comes to you by way of this radio station. Is my personal opinion over someone else’s such that I would want to bring about discord and difficulty and division and hard feelings?  If we properly use the armor of God and let the love of God rule in our hearts, then we surely will be those called to unity. We will follow peace. We will promote peace and preserve peace and proclaim peace with our lives and with our words.

It is not a surprise that close akin to peace is purity.  Unfortunately, it is the impurity in individual lives and in society that so very often produces the lack of peace. When we live lives of sinfulness and selfishness, then, indeed, purity will not be a part of our daily lives and our relationships.

Someone said to Mr. Spurgeon, “Well, there are two evils here. Which one should I choose?” His reply, “Of two evils, choose neither.” That is the call of God. We are given the privilege, we as Christians are given the power of the indwelling Spirit, to help us choose wisely and choose well and never to choose evil.

What is this pattern of purity about which we speak? 1 Peter 1:16 puts it this way.  It is written. You shall be holy for I am holy. Peter quotes there from the book of Leviticus. Our Creator God, our heavenly Father, his Son and our Savior and our elder brother the Lord Jesus, they are holy. And so Jesus’ call to us is to follow him in our daily walk. That is his message in the Sermon on the Mount as recorded in the book of Matthew.

The call of the epistles as Paul and Peter and the other writers wrote those books by the inspiration of the Spirit was a call to holy living, a life of separation from the world. And I would point out to you that in this text it is not a suggestion that we do this, but it is, indeed, a command.  Someone referred to the matter of good and evil and they said, “Well, this is a necessary evil.”  Ah, don’t ever think that, for when it begins to look more and more necessary it looks less and less evil. If it is evil, let’s not look at it and think it is going to get good. A rotten apple will not get to be a good, whole apple. It will only rot more. We must follow the pattern of purity, a life of holy living like unto that of our Lord Jesus.

The pattern of purity, then, is accompanied by the power of purity.  Paul told in the book of Romans chapter one and verse four, talking about the Lord Jesus: ‘He was declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness by the resurrection of the dead, even Jesus Christ our Lord.’  The power to be holy is directly related to the power which raised Jesus from the dead.  Paul, again to the church at Ephesus in chapter one verses 19 and 20 says this.  What is the exceeding greatness of his power to us who believe?  What kind of power is it? According to the working of the strength of his might which he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead and made him to sit at his right hand in the heavenlies.

Let us understand. We cannot maintain purity in our own wisdom and strength. But because the power that raised Jesus from the grave is available to help us live holy lives, holy living, it is resurrection power. Do you know a greater power than that? Can you think of something that has been done that entails the need for a greater power? I suggest not. A pattern for purity, the power of… to be pure, the power of that we need.

And thus, we might say, “What, then, is the purpose of this purity?” In Romans chapter six and verse 22 Paul tells us.  ‘But now being made free from sin we become servants of God and we bear fruit unto sanctification and the end, eternal life’.  Just look at all that is contained in that verse. Notice we are made free from sin.  We become servants of God and we are able to bear fruit unto holiness and the end result of that is eternal life.  The freedom from sin and its guilt and its power, the position of service in the kingdom of God, to bear fruit to the glory of God, and to have the hope of everlasting life, all of these come because of the result of the work of Jesus Christ at Calvary in our behalf. As surely as we must accept Christ to receive forgiveness and this eternal life, so we then must live by his power and we must follow his direction in order to bear fruit for his glory. The entire context of these verses address my former life which was a life of sin and evil and then the present good life that is free from sin, its guilt, its punishment, its drudgery.  Servants of God, there is no higher position anywhere.

One missionary was heard to say, “If someone called me to be a king, I would not take the position, for God has called me to be his servant.” And that servant will bear fruit and there, indeed, will be the beautiful result of eternal life.

There are a thousand people that are trimming and hacking away at the branches of evil in their lives.  But very few who strike at the root to kill the evil. That is where we destroy a plant, a weed, a tree.  If you cut the root the result will be a dead plant. But we must not just hack a few branches, but deal with it in its entirety.

Here is our call, then, again, back to our Hebrews passage, chapter 12 and verse 14.  The call still goes out to the people of God, whoever they may be:  Follow after peace with all men and the holiness or the sanctification without which no man will see the Lord.  Let us heed the call of God to do these two things.   Failure inevitably produces great loss and sorrow that just weighs us down. Success, on the other hand, following peace and purity brings great reward. Is my heart set in that direction? Is it my desire to follow peace and purity? Do I pray for those in my life? Am I willing to pay the price that it takes to see that? Am I willing to have a spirit of humility? Am I willing to defeat self? Am I willing to let the will of God be done in my life?

If so, then my goal will be unity and I will promote peace in my relationships. I will preserve the unity that God gives in the Spirit. I will proclaim peace, the peace of the gospel with my words as well as my actions. I will also be aware of the need of purity in my life, of holiness. Although I am clothed in the righteousness of Jesus who is himself a pattern or this purity, I strive to be pure in my daily living knowing I can’t do that on my own and I rely on the power of purity evidenced in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Then I am able to have great joy and rejoicing when I see the purpose for which God called me when he demanded purity and peace.

What about your relationship to God and to eternity?  The story is told that a missionary was speaking to a Hindu on one occasion. It might be possible that even in the hearing of my voice today there is someone who follows this religion. It seems that the Christian missionary drew some water, the sacred water out of that Ganges River and he put it under the lens of a microscope and he had the Hindu man look into the microscope and in there he saw water full of filth and disease and germs.  Well, what was he to do? Unfortunately he dashed to smithereens the instrument of exposure of his superstition.  He called the water clean and holy and sacred when, in reality, it was full of filth and germs.

So often mankind does that.  We ignore the fact of our sinful condition revealed to us in God’s Word. What a price we pay when we give up the purity of the Word of God and refuse to receive Jesus.  As children of God we must desire to have peace and purity in our lives. May God bless you today is our prayer.

Julius Hovan preaches at the Bohon Church of Christ, Bohon, KY. 




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If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.

Romans 14:8