14 Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord:
and holiness [Progressive sanctification],
The second command is to pursue “holiness.” As the believer pursues peace, he pursues sanctification. He has not reached final practical holiness but is in a process to do so. They are to pursue sanctification because they are positionally sanctified. Our standing is one thing, but the state of our Christian living is another. Progressive sanctification does not change our standing with God; that is a permanent relationship.
The Christian should be holy because God is absolutely holy (He 12:10). The idea of holiness is God’s standards and values. Christians are to raise themselves to God’s standard of holiness. Holiness is vital for relationships with people. It is difficult to relate to people properly if our souls are out of sync with God.
There is no suggestion here of salvation by works. “Holiness,” or sanctification, requires diligence on the part of the Christian. It is necessary to “pursue” holiness. Pursuing requires focus and effort. It takes effort to live with people in peace and to live in fellowship with God daily. Peace is our horizontal relationship with fellow Christians, whereas sanctification is our disposition toward God.
without which [holiness] no one will [progressive] see the Lord:
No one can fellowship with the Lord apart from holiness. God cannot tolerate inconsistency. Seeing the Lord here is fellowship with Him. It is the beatific vision of God. The idea is that it is not possible to have close fellowship with God without holiness.
It is important to note that the future tense of “will see” pertains to the progress of maturity. Those who do not advance in their walk cannot come to know God in His fullness. A believer who does not deal with his sin or introduce corrective measures into his life will not fellowship with God. On the other hand, God will introduce disciplinary dissonance into his life to get his attention.
Fellowship with God is not possible without confession of sin.
Progressive sanctification, or the process of maturity, is not a finished state. The earlier part of Hebrews 12 deals with how God puts the believer through discipline in order to mature them in Christ. Maturity brings tenacity of soul and endurance through all kinds of trouble and dissidence. This is a sanctifying process. Progressive sanctification is something that the Christian pursues throughout his or her life.
We condition our view of God by His holiness. Positional holy standing is motivation for practical holiness.
God often couples peace and sanctification (1 Jn 4:21). Members of the household of faith have many things in common. The idea of a “saint” is separation unto God. We are His, and fellow believers are His. This marks Christians as fellow-members in the family of God.