Question: It seems to me, from Hebrews 12:14, we must pursue holiness to obtain eternal life.
"Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord."
I am interested to have your response.
Answer: The word "holiness" appears twice in Chapter 12, once in Verse 10 and Verse 14. Verse 10 is referring to the Christian’s walk with the Lord and Verse 14 talks about our position with the Lord. The verses preceding Verse 10 tell of God chastening His children, in love, so they will show forth His holiness in their lives. The Greek word for "holiness" here is "hagiotes." It is the abstract quality of holiness that we, as Christians, display by the power of the Holy Spirit. We are to partake of His holiness in fellowship; and show it forth in our lives; thus eliminating God’s chastening.
There is a different Greek word for "holiness" in Verse 10, "hagirsmos," which means "set apart." When a person accepts Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, they are indwelt with the Holy Spirit which is the perfect holiness and righteousness of God. We are then set apart as His children. Romans 8:9 makes this clear.
"Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his."
You cannot follow something you do not already have.
In Verses 5-8, God reminds the Christians they are still His sons (used 5 times); even though He is chastening them for their sins. The flesh cannot "produce peace with all men (i.e. those who hate you, lie about you, etc.) and holiness"; only the Holy Spirit can do this. Therefore, no person without the Holy Spirit "shall see the Lord."
We are to yield to the Holy Spirit as 2 Timothy 2:22 says.
"Flee also youthful lusts: but FOLLOW righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart."
One cannot follow the Holy Spirit unless you have the Holy Spirit!