This is the 6th of a 9-part series on Christian Ethics.
Do you have “peace?” Do you know what real peace is?
When people say they “have peace” about something it often means nothing more than they “feel good” about it or there is an absence of emotional conflict. Some Christians refer to a “supernatural peace” as mentioned in the Bible in Philippians 4:7, “The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
From the Bible’s point of view peace is first “peace with God” (Romans 5:1), meaning that the atoning working of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross has erased our enmity with God. Because of the death of Jesus for our sin, God is no longer in conflict with those who have received him. We are “at peace” with him when we receive the payment of sin he made on our behalf.
Biblical “peace” is also a lack of internal conflict, or perhaps we shall also call thisinternal enmitywith ourselves about something. In both cases this kind of peace does not proceed or coincide with a decision to do something, rather it is a byproduct of an already-made decision. The first decision is a decision to be at peace with God by accepting his terms of peace—the lordship of his Son Jesus over our lives.
In this study we will look at two aspects of the Peace of God,and learn how we can have true and lasting peace.
God: At Peace With Himself, But Not Man
Peace is a right relationship with oneself and with others that is void of confusion, conflict, or division. God is a God of Peace.
"For God is not the author of confusion but of peace…" (I Corinthians 14:33a).
God is always at peace with himself. This means that he is never confused, conflicted, or divided within himself about his emotions, thoughts, or actions. He is always at peace with all he feels, thinks, and does, and is always in a right relationship to himself. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are never divided.
Describe why you sometimes feel conflicted within yourself, or are sometimes without inner peace?
God is not at peace with men who do not know or obey him. The Bible illustrates this by calling those who do not obey God, God’s enemies.
"For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life" (Romans 5:10).
"And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others" (Ephesians 2:1-3).
"And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled" (Colossians 1:21).
Man is at conflict with God and separated from him because man prefers his own ways of sin instead a righteous life that God requires. Since man has rejected the basic requirements of right living that his Creator has given him, man is under God’s wrath.
God does not hate us, but neither are we his friends. We are his enemies because of our sin. How can people move from being an enemy to being a friend?
God loves man and longs to be at peace with us, but his justice requires he punish our sin, thus we cannot be at peace with God without a solution to our sin problem.
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed" (John 3:16-20).
"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).
"For the wages of sin is death…" (Romans 6:23a).
"If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us" (I John 1:8).
Though we are not at peace with God, God still love us and wants to be at peace with us. However, he cannot excuse our sin anymore than a court should excuse a criminal. God must punish sin.
Every person has sinned. There is no one who has not sinned. What kind of punishment do you think you deserve for your sin? What do you want God to do about your sin?
Jesus: Peace Between God & Man
Jesus Christ was always at peace with himself, and with his Father.
"When all the people were baptized, it came to pass that Jesus also was baptized; and while He prayed, the heaven was opened. And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, "You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased" (Luke 3:21-22).
"Then Jesus answered and said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel" (John 5:19-20).
"I and My Father are one" (John 10:30).
"He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation…For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell" (Colossians 1:15,19).
"…who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God" (Philippians 2:6).
As the only Son of the Living God, Jesus is part of what we call the “Godhead.” He has all of the attributes and nature of God. He is therefore fully at peace with God. He is without confusion, disorder, or division with his Father.
Not everyone has peaceful relationships with others. We are often divided from one another because of our selfish desires (sin). How can we be at peace with others?
Jesus came to make peace between God and man, making it possible for men to know God, obey God, and be at peace with him.
"Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation" (Romans 5:1-11).
Though God was not at peace with man, God still loved man and sent his Son to be a sacrifice, taking the punishment for our sins. Since our debt of sin has been paid by the Lord Jesus, we can now come to know God, obey him, and be acceptable in his sight.
Jesus is a bridge between God and man. His righteous sacrifice can bring God and man together in peace. How can you move from being an enemy of God to being at peace with God?
Jesus expressed God’s love for man by willing dying on a cross for our sin. Jesus is therefore the solution to our sin problem, making peace with God possible.
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).
"Having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation" (Romans 5:1,6-11).
"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (I John 1:9).
Because God has poured out his wrath for sin upon Jesus instead of us, his justice—his requirement to punish sin—has been fully satisfied. Everyone who embraces Jesus Christ and the punishment he paid for us can have peace with God as God’s free gift.
Have you received Jesus Christ as your Savior? Do you sense that your sin debt has been settled, or do you need to confess your sin to God?
Being At Peace With God And Self
Maintaining a life of peace requires obedience to God’s word.
"Great peace have those who love Your law, and nothing causes them to stumble" (Psalm 119:165).
The Bible is God’s instruction book for life. It is the “owner’s manual” for the human soul. Our designer has designed us to have peace with him, and within ourselves, but we need to understand God’s instructions on how to attain that peace—first by receiving Jesus sacrifice for our sin, then learning how to obey him.
Why should you obey the commandments in the Bible? Can you maintain peace with God without obeying the Bible’s commands?
The Christian who lives a life of obedience to God and his word will have a life of personal peace regardless of his circumstances. A life of disobedience will put the Christian at odds with his Creator.
"What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?...For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God" (Romans 6:1-2,10-13).
"For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. Anyone who has rejected Moses' law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord. And again, "The LORD will judge His people." It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (Hebrews 10:26-31).
Though we obtain a right relationship to God through the obedience of Jesus death and resurrection, we must also imitate Jesus’ obedience in our own lives. Jesus did not pay for our debt of sin so that we can keep on sinning, he paid it so we can be forgiven and be empowered to live a life of righteousness as he did.
When we obey God we signify that we are already in a right relationship with him. When we disobey (sin), we signify our relationship is not right. What kind of relationship do you have with God right now?
When we are at peace with God we can be at peace within ourselves knowing that we are living a life of obedience and that God holds nothing against us.
"I will hear what God the LORD will speak, for He will speak peace to His people and to His saints; but let them not turn back to folly" (Psalm 85:8).
"You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You" (Isaiah 26:3).
"The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit" (Galatians 5:22-25).
"Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you" (Philippians 4:8-9).
"Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid" (John 14:27).
We can have peace, an inner life without confusion, conflict, or division through a right relationship to Jesus Christ. It is that right relationship which makes inner peace possible. We cannot have one without the other. Being in a right relationship with God means that we live a life in obedience to him.
Do you live a life of obedience to God, avoiding sin and doing good?