"Pursue peace with all men,
and the sanctification
no one will see the Lord."
Pursue peace on the way home.
Okay, now that we have fixed our limbs to run down the straight and narrow, the author tells us that part of the way to the goal for us to pursue peace. Chase it down? Catch it? Hold on to it? Hmm. How's that goin' for ya? Actually, pursuing peace has no guarantees that it will happen for others, but it can happen in our hearts. It is an attitude that is like that of John 14:27...
This is to be like Christ, our Prince of Peace.
"Peace I leave with you;
My peace I give to you;
not as the world gives do I give to you.
Do not let your heart be troubled,
nor let it be fearful."
"Seek peace and pursue it."
"Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they shall be called the sons of God."
Adam Clarke says, "'Pursue peace' with the same care, attention, and diligence, as beasts do their game; follow it through all places; trace it through all winding circumstances; and have it with all men, if you can with a safe conscience."
It is as if we are walking out onto the battle field singing, Mr. Roger's ditty,"Won't you be my neighbor," while still wearing the armor of God with your sword and shield ready. We aren't to be fearful, because His peace is out of this world. There's a time to exhibit it, to be peacemakers, and a time to realize there is no compromise.
It is perhaps not such a strange coupling of pursuing peace in this verse with the pursuit of sanctification. One is toward man and one is toward God. Again I quote from Adam Clarke, "'And holiness,' That state of continual sanctification, that life of purity and detachment from the world and all its lusts, without which detachment and sanctity 'no man shall see the Lord'--shall never enjoy His presence in the world of blessedness. 'To see God,' in the Hebrew phrase, is to enjoy Him; and without holiness of heart and life this is impossible. No soul can be fit for heaven that has not suitable disposition for the place."
Andrew Murray says, "'Follow after sanctification,' literally 'holy-making.'...Holy Making is the spiritual preparation, the inner capacity for meeting the Lord, and being at home with Him...to live in God's will is the true following after sanctification."
I mentioned before the scene of battle. There comes a time in a Christian life where we become weary of fighting a battle here, a battle there, and we look up and realize we are fighting ourselves straining against our will and God's will. Sanctification is the final once and for all laying down ourselves completely, not fighting against God, to fully surrender to His will, to be cleansed, purified, and made ready by His Spirit to do His will without question, without argument, truly letting the Prince of Peace be our Commander in Chief.
As Wesleyans, we call this a second or deeper work in the life of a Christian. Those who do not come to this peace in their hearts often become weary and give up or struggle on without the victory that is offered. But this is the "Thanks be to God" in Romans 7 that promises to set us free from that struggle against sin as a wretched man, to free us from "the body of this death."
Andrew Murray offers another image concerning seeing the Lord: "As the bride puts on her beautiful garments, to meet Him she loves and to whom she is to be united, the call comes to us to put on our holy garments, to array ourselves in the beauty of holiness to meet our Lord." After all, isn't that the goal, to see the Lord? We all want to hear the words when we do, "Well, done good and faithful servant," or "This is My Son (my son or daughter) in whom I am well pleased."