Peace with God, peace with self

Aug 29, 2013

This is a continuation of the series on the fruit of peace. This is part two. God is the author and the source of peace.This is affirmed and confirmed numerous places in the Scriptures. I won’t give a list of them to you at this time. Instead, we will be encountering a few of them as we proceed to examine three relationships of peace. Let’s talk about our personal and individual peace with God. That’s where it has to begin. Without it, we will have no peace within ourselves, nor with other men. So how does peace with God come about?

Well, we have discussed this many times in the past in the contexts of other studies. There are three steps in the process of salvation. The very first step in the salvation process is called justification—a theological term.

God is the cause and source of peace. The means by which we obtain peace is through our justification by God. This is confirmed in…

Romans 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

Before we were converted and came to Christ, we all were just as unsaved as Joseph Stalin or Chairman Mao. Now they might be considered more wicked and much more evil men than most of us, but before we came to Christ, we would have been classified in that same category called “the wicked,” is that not correct? Because it says in Romans 8:7…

Romans 8:7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.

But after we come to Christ, we are justified, we are considered righteous in God’s eyes because of the merits of Christ, even though in actuality, we still fall short of absolute perfection. The theological term for being considered or accounted as righteous is imputation. Because the righteousness of Christ has been imputed to us, in God’s eyes we are therefore no longer classed among the wicked but among the righteous. And we are given the grace to pursue spiritual things, such as the fruits of the spirit. Look at the previous verse…

Romans 8:6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

So the first step towards producing the fruit of peace is for us to have peace with God. If you are a believer, then you are justified and you have that peace with God. God may chasten and discipline us—we discussed that considerably in our study of joy—and God may send trials so that we may grow more spiritually, but through it all, He is at peace with us, and we can rest at peace in ourselves in that knowledge.

There is a difference there. Notice I said that we can have peace within ourselves because we know that God is at peace with us. But it does not follow automatically. So let us now discuss the second level of peace: peace with ourselves.

It is the difference between experiencing peace with God and the peace of God. Even though we as Christian believers are assured of our peace with God, I am certain that I am not the only believer who does not have a perfect track record of enjoying the continual peace of God.

Is there is anyone reading this who can lay claim to enjoying the inner peace of God on a 24/7 basis, year after year? If so; then please, show us the secret! But I am saying that rhetorically because perhaps there is no secret to be learned.

Rather, there is the race to be run, meaning that each of us has his own separate and uniquely-designed race-course, a path set before us by the Father. No one has the same set of circumstances and opportunities for learning the fruit of peace as another person has.

So there is no secret. If any saint has achieved to that level of spiritual maturity, it is not some technique they can share with you so that you and I can leap to that level in an hour. It does not works that way.

It is a matter of becoming attuned to the leading of the Holy Spirit, so that we can gradually develop the spiritual ability to remain at peace within ourselves while in the midst of any adversity.

Let us look at ourselves honestly. Even though we are believers, I daresay that most of us run rapidly to the Lord when major crises and trials arise. When the big storms of life afflict us, we seek Him with all our hearts, don’t we? And He is ever-faithful to see us through the crisis.

However, on a hum-drum, day-to-day basis, when things are going relatively well, many of us tend to slack off. We go about our activities and find that we are beset with numerous small problems, and what do we do? We tend to try to handle them in our own strength, don’t we?

If the car gets a flat tire and we are going to be late for an appointment…or

…If the children were especially rowdy this afternoon, and they caused mother to be so preoccupied that dinner on the stove is now going to be “Nawlins”-style [New Orleans]; that is to say, dinner is now “blackened.” or…

…. In your case, dad? …if three of your four subcontractors did not show up on the jobsite yesterday, and it set you back a day, so that you’re going to lose money on account of that, plus; on top of that, your own employees are upset because you had to send them home today, because there is nothing for them to do, because the subs didn’t show up…or…

…If one of you parents have to go to school and pick up one of your children because he punched another kid in the mouth and broke his tooth…or

…If you become aware that someone at the office or at the plant or—[GASP!]—even at church, that someone is spreading unflattering gossip about you…or…

Well, you fill in the blank with your own day-to-day, relatively small problems, and then let us ask ourselves: how do we react to them? I would guess that many of us get irritated that we got a flat tire.

We get anxious and worry that we’re going to be late for an appointment. We get resentful of the subcontractors. We begin to worry: how am I going to pay all the bills?

We fly off the handle at the children because they’re so rowdy—I guess it’s going to rain, right? We’re upset because the dinner got burnt. And with all that gossip, what will people think about me? We get anxious that the principal might throw little Johnny out of public school. (Would that be a bad thing?)

We get fretful and on and on. Is it not because we usually try to handle the small things by ourselves? Let us look at Jesus on the night Judas betrayed him where Jesus discoursed at some length with his apostles. He told them that the world would hate them. He told them how they were to relate to each other.

He told them He was going away but that the Holy Spirit would come. If the disciples could read between the lines, He told them of His soon-approaching death and resurrection, and how their grief would turn to joy. And then He closed a segment of His talk with this statement to them.

John 16:33 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.

There are three primary parts to this statement. One, we will have troubles. Two: we can have peace in the midst of it, because Three: Jesus overcame the world. Let’s look at these a little deeper.

The Greek word for tribulation there is G2347 thlipsis {thlip’-sis} and although we usually think of tribulation as referring to the worst kind of scenarios, it also has some milder meanings, such as pressure and distress. Or we could use the word stress.

In our high-tech culture and lightning-paced society, we in 21st century America find the word “stress” to be very common in our vocabulary. Everyone is under stress, and is it really getting worse?

Or is that just our perception because we do live in such a fast-paced society? I know that every month when I go to Atlanta I feel more stress just from the frenetic pace of the traffic and activity all around me while in a major metropolitan area.

The fact is that Jesus guaranteed believers that in this world we will have thlipsis-stress, both mild and some severe. But now think about the circumstances that cause you stress. Do you realize how closely joy is related to peace?

Because the very same events and circumstances which can take away our joy are those which can remove our inner peace. So while we are obtaining the fruit of joy we are also obtaining the fruit of peace and vice versa.

Jesus also guaranteed us that we could have peace in the midst of turmoil. And the reason we can is because he has overcome the world. By conquering death, He now sits at the right hand of the Father. Look at how Paul describes the position and authority of Christ.

Ephesians 1: 19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,

20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,

21 Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:

22 And hath put [SOME things, ….oops! Did I read that wrong? The Father has put] all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,

I don’t see anything in this passage to qualify that word “all” to mean anything less than everything in the universe. I believe the Father put the Son in charge of everything in the universe.

Now I ask you, and I went into this in some detail in my Sovereignty of God series (and of course, my book based on that series, Sacred Secrets of the Sovereignty of God, 352 pgs., $24 ppd.)—does God know when a sparrow falls from the sky. Has He counted the number of hairs on your head? Does He know when you sit down and rise up? What are we talking about here?

We’re talking about what we refer to as the little things. And so going back to what I said a few minutes ago, we all turn quickly and seek the Lord with all our hearts when we are in major trials and tribulations, but most of us try to handle the small problems on our own.

And we end up stressed out, full of worry and anxiety and fears and resentments and anger, and on to bitterness and worse, and all of those things preclude and prevent us from experiencing the peace within that God has for us.

Why are we so stressed out and full of anxiety? I submit that it is because we somehow have this idea that God is too busy with the big problems over in Iraq and Syria and the Israeli state, that we don’t want to bother Him with our relatively small problems.

Now we may not have meant it like this, but isn’t our failure to approach Him with all our problems indicating a lack of faith. In other words, our picture of God is too small. We don’t believe He is big enough to juggle all the balls at the same time.

We apparently don’t believe that He can handle Iraq, Syria and the Israeli state and all the world’s major crises, plus the problem of our blackened dinner, all at the same time.

It’s time we enlarged our concept of God. It is time we believed Him when he says He is concerned about the small things as well as the big things. You see, once we acknowledge the ability of God and willingness of God to handle our little problems, then the antidote to anxiety and worry and its resultant depression is found right there in His Word.Look, it begins with a refresher course from our study on joy. When are we supposed to have joy?

Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.

5 Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.

6 Be careful [and that word is old English; it means worried or anxious. Be anxious…] for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep [guard, protect] your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

If we live in this world, we are going to encounter stress. Everybody has stress; it is unavoidable. The question is: how do we deal with it? Here is God’s remedy for anxiety, worry and stress.

God says don’t worry and don’t have anxiety about anything. Instead, handle that anxiety by going to Him in prayer…prayer about everything! And since we have ignored the little things in the past, let us all now resolve to pray to Him especially about the little things, okay?

When we do, He promises us in verse 7 that His peace, which transcends our ability to even comprehend, that peace will protect our hearts and minds. Protect our hearts and minds from what? From worry, from fear, from anxiety, from depression which results from anxiety.

Notice also that we are to beseech God with thanksgiving. As a parent, you surely have had the experience of when your children finally reach a point where they know that if they approach you with thanksgiving, they are more likely to be successful, right?

Daddy, you were so nice to get me that bicycle for my birthday. I just want to thank you so much! And at about that time, we smile, because we know, and they know, what’s coming next, and so we say: “Yes, you’re welcome. I am glad you are enjoying the bicycle. But you are here because you want something else, don’t you?” (Or we skip the last sentence and pretend we don’t know what’s coming next and allow our child to proceed with their request.)

Obviously, not in so mundane a manner, but yet in a similar manner, I imagine that our heavenly Father smiles, too, when we approach Him with thanksgiving. We can thank Him for past answers to prayer. We can thank him for any number of specific ways that He has blest us lately.

And of course, most difficult of all, but yet I know it pleases the Father, is when we thank Him for what I call our negative blessings. We thank Him for our trials and tribulations. We thank Him for them because—though they are painful—we recognize that He sends them all for our betterment in the long run. Do you love God? Then rest assured in this promise:

Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

(To be continued.)

Category: Teaching