In the previous verses, God told us that there is a spiritual race to be run by his children and that he chastens them when they get “off track”. In the following verses, God provides further instructions to his children regarding how to run this race.
14. Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:
God’s peace is always truthful and never compromises. Holiness is purity of heart and life. I was surprised to learn that the Greek word translated “follow” in this verse is usually translated “persecute” (or some form of this word) and that it is the Greek word used to describe Saul’s persecution of God’s people before God changed his heart. This tells me that we are to follow peace and holiness with the same extreme passion and dedication that Paul employed to hunt down and persecute God’s people. It is similar to the focus and intensity of a predator pursuing its prey.
15. Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;
Grace is refreshing and liberating while bitterness is depressing and enslaving. Bitterness is a strange sort of thing: it is seductive without being beautiful. It is also contagious. It is no wonder that God commands us to keep a sharp eye out for it.
16. Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright.
17. For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.
Esau was the firstborn son of Issac and was therefore entitled to a great inheritance, but he gave it up in order to satisfy his fleshly appetite. When he sought to regain it, the opportunity had been lost. Sinful decisions can have tragic consequences.
18. For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest,
19. And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard intreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more:
20. (For they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart:
21. And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake:)
The mountain being spoken of here is mount Sinai where God gave Moses the law which is an absolute standard. There is no mercy in the law - only judgement. As stated in the book of Romans, the purpose of the law is to show us our hopeless condition as lost sinners before a holy God so that we will be drawn to Christ.
22. But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,
23. To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,
24. And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.
The law that condemns us was given on Mount Sinai but it was on mount Sion (also called “Zion”) where Jesus took that condemnation upon himself so that we could be free from it. The Apostle Paul explains it in the following way:
For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:
If you are hoping to avoid God’s judgment by keeping God’s law then you have completely missed the point. It is only by understanding that we stand before God condemned by his law, believing that Christ paid for our sins on the cross, and receiving Christ as our Saviour that we can be saved.