Peace is the heritage of the Christian. If that is so, why do so few experience it? I used to read self-help books because I wanted to better myself. I wanted more self-esteem, more inner strength, more peace. But I despaired of all the helps I read because I did not think I could follow through with the programs the authors promised would bring peace or whatever. Jesus promises a changed life with peace too, but with a difference – his promise tells us that peace is a real possibility, and something that God will provide. But it is not automatic. We need to turn from whatever rob us of peace. Here are a few to think about.
Freedom from guilt
“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). This verse concludes an argument begun earlier. There, Paul wrote that none of our good works could earn us a righteous standing before God. Having realized this, we have turned from our works to just trusting in God to provide the righteousness we need. That relieved our guilt. We may have forgotten this and, having done wrong again, are trying to make up for it by our works, by trying harder or by bargaining with God. But the way to peace is to realize that God just wants to forgive us and grant righteousness by faith alone, apart from works. Just come as you are and confess. Then thank him for sending his Son, who shed his blood to cleanse away our sin.
Freedom from anxiety
“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 6:33). Perhaps we are confused because we think peace means the lack of conflict or trouble. Yet here we find that Jesus promises peace in the middle of tribulation, not outside of it! Jesus is saying here that no matter what problem afflicts us, we can trust him, for he has overcome it and wants to teach us to do the same. We have real fears about the economy, our jobs, relationships, and a thousand other things that occupy our minds. We won’t have peace as long as we think that straightening out these things should be a priority. Jesus said we’ll have peace in him, not in the elimination of these other things. At one point in their missionary journey, Paul and Silas were unjustly beaten and tied up in the deepest part of a dungeon (Acts 16:25). Were they moaning loud and long? No, they sang hymns. Such was the power of trusting Christ for what they were going through. They did not know when they would get out; it was enough that Jesus was in charge, and somehow had triumphed over the situation.
Freedom from wants
“For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace” (Romans 8:6). When our tendency is to pamper ourselves, we can get tired from trying to fill a bottomless pit. We can’t be contented by pampering the flesh. The desires of the flesh never end. No matter what you get, you’ll always want more. That is the carnal way to live. The spiritual way to live is to consider how you can please the Lord, not yourself. As you continually try to fill the flesh, the natural outcome is death. As you continually desire to please God, the natural outcome is life – his life in you.
Before we were saved, it was normal to trust in ourselves, to minimize all troubles, and indulge our every desire. These were the very traits that were separating us from God and his life all along. We may have heard a watered-down version of the Gospel which did not tell us that our self-seeking ways were bad, but only certain of our deeds were bad and in need of forgiveness. So we continue our self-seeking ways after becoming Christians, and wonder why we still don’t have an abundant life. Sin has corrupted every aspect of our being. There is no way to reform it except to die to it and live by faith to the glory of God (Romans 6). Jesus’ promise of peace is conditional. This means that when we follow the condition, to trust in Christ for the problem, the peace is sure. The normal Christian life, at the beginning, is to forget or neglect this truth again and again. Have you forgotten? Christ and his willingness to take on your burden is still near.
What Do You Think?
a. In the answers above, we find that peace is found by acknowledging the truth in the scriptures. have you found any substitutes for the scriptures that worked? If so, did any of them bring you closer to God?
b. Have you had worries that were later unfounded – and you had worried for nothing? If so, was it because you had believed something that wasn’t even true?
c. When we worry, wouldn’t the truth of the situation help? Why or why not?