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Hebrews 12:14

ESV Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.
NIV Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.
NASB Pursue peace with all people, and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.
CSB Pursue peace with everyone, and holiness--without it no one will see the Lord.
NLT Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord.
KJV Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:

What does Hebrews 12:14 mean?

This passage of Hebrews encourages Christians to "hold fast" (Hebrews 3:6) despite persecutions and hardships. Most of what we face as believers is not as drastic as it could be (Hebrews 12:4), and God uses those experiences to "train" us into a deeper, stronger faith. Prior verses relied on athletic terminology to depict the way we should approach our own spiritual growth (Hebrews 12:11–12).

A common command given in the New Testament is for Christians to seek peace between themselves and others (Romans 12:18; 2 Corinthians 13:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:13). In fact, this capacity to "get along" is tied closely to our spiritual maturity (James 3:17; 1 Timothy 3:3; Galatians 5:22). This is especially important when it comes to relationships between other Christians. Not only does mutual love serve to build up the church, it is a primary sign to the world that we're disciples of Christ (John 13:35; 1 John 3:14; 4:21).

Along with mutual peace, the writer encourages a life of holiness. Again, this is a common theme of New Testament teaching. Christians are empowered by the Holy Spirit to live godly, righteous, moral lives (2 Timothy 1:7). Sin is always the result of rejecting that power, in some way (1 Corinthians 10:13). Those who persist in sin are proving that they don't have the influence of the Holy Spirit in their lives (1 John 1:6).

At the same time, this verse does not mean we're meant to be saved based on our "good behavior." It is impossible for an imperfect, unholy sinner to stand before God (Isaiah 6:5) — we must be perfectly righteous to be in His presence (Exodus 33:19–20). That exact point will be made later in this chapter when the writer refers to God's display at Mount Sinai (Hebrews 12:18–29).

That ability to stand in the presence of God, however, is exactly what we gain from Christ's finished work on our behalf (Hebrews 9:11–12; 1 John 3:2). The holiness we need to "see the Lord" comes from Christ, by His grace, and through our faith in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 3:18). Striving to live according to that standard should be the natural desire of every saved believer (John 14:15).
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