Experiencing True Peace
For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation (Ephesians 2:14 NJKV)
The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace (Romans 8:6 NIV)
Are you going through tough trials and circumstances? We encourage you not to let your faith slip away, but stand firm in the faith and keep fighting the good fight (Hebrews 2:1; 1 Timothy 6:12). If we do this, the Lord promises that He will turn our mourning into dancing (Jeremiah 31:4; Psalm 30:11). Furthermore, never forget that the Lord is with you even in your lowest and loneliest times (Psalm 23:4; 139:1-18). If our precious Lord Jesus Christ saved you and did not give up on you while you were dead in sin, how much more will He save you and not give up on you now that you want to love Him and be with Him forever (Romans 5:6-10)? Therefore, trust in the Lord and resist the enemy’s thoughts that the Lord has forgotten you or that you have no hope in Him (Isaiah 56:3). Keep the faith and stand firm in it, knowing that other believers are also enduring similar trials (1 Corinthians 16:13; 1 Peter 5:9; Acts 14:22).
The word “peace” typically is used to refer to the absence of disturbance, strife, or hostilities. At a personal level, peace usually refers to a quiet and calm state of mind, free from internal and external strife. Biblically, peace comes from the Hebrew word “Shalom”, which carries a deeper meaning, referring to “being complete or whole” or “to live well”. This concept of peace is best illustrated by the Apostle John’s statement: “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers” (3 John 1:2).
In this message, we would like to encourage you to be on guard against the devil’s schemes to steal your peace (John 10:10), leaving you offended, vengeful, holding grudges, complaining, cold, divided, anxious, and unforgiving. Peace is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22), and peace through the Lord Jesus Christ is good news (Acts 10:36 NIV)! Jesus Himself as the Prince of Peace is our peace (Isaiah 9:6; Ephesians 2:14). Contrary to the tickle-your-ear messages shared by prosperity teachers who emphasize material things as the key to peace and happiness, true peace and joy comes from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior, and is focused on encouraging us to prepare for eternal life (Isaiah 53:4-5; John 15:11, 16:24; Titus 1:4; Philemon 1:3). The Lord Jesus asked: “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26 NKJV).
Having Peace with Oneself
As Christians aspiring to live holy lives, daily we are faced with challenges and circumstances that can get us out of God’s rest and peace, including anxiety and worry. As we mentioned in the Do Not Be Anxious article, children of God throughout the Bible were faced with stressful and distressful situations such as being mistreated, persecuted, and even killed (Hebrews 11:32-38). In spite of these fiery trials, they had exemplary responses of not worrying, but trusting in God and praying for His will and deliverance (Daniel 3:13-30; Luke 23:34; 23:46).
Have you had nights when you were unable to sleep peacefully because you were distraught or anxious about something or someone? Remember that the Bible admonishes us not worry about anything but to always pray, making our requests with thanksgiving, and casting all our cares on the Lord; and the Lord is faithful to give us peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:6-7; 1 Peter 5:7; Matthew 6:25-34). If you are afraid of man, the Lord says: “I, even I, am He who comforts you. Who are you that you should be afraid of a man who will die, and of the son of a man who will be made like grass?” (Isaiah 51:12 NKJV). We should pray and let go of our anger and wrath before going to bed, so that we lie down and sleep in peace, trusting the Lord to keep us safe (Psalm 4:8; Ephesians 4:26). With the Lord on our side, faithful believers do not have to fear the sudden ruin that overtakes the wicked, as the Lord will keep us from harm (Proverbs 3:23-26; Isaiah 12:2). And even if death comes, our hope still remains in God (Psalm 116:15; Daniel 3:16-18).
Meditating on worldly things, bad news, politics, or wasting time watching TV and social media (Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, etc.) also steals our peace. However, if we meditate on the Word of God and trust in the Lord, He will keep us in perfect peace (Isaiah 26:3; Romans 8:6). Seeking God first also allows us to accomplish our goals and get things done which adds to our joy and peace (Matthew 6:33). When we neglect to eat our daily bread through Bible reading, we leave our souls hungry and thirsty (Matthew 4:4). We also miss out on teaching and instruction that keep our peace flowing like a river and also empower us to resist sinning against God (Isaiah 48:18). Just as a newborn baby craves the mother’s milk, we are blessed and filled when we read God’s Word (Matthew 5:6; 1 Peter 2:2). Obedience to Christ yields joy and peace within oneself (Isaiah 57:2; Isaiah 57:21).
Having Peace with Others
We are encouraged through the Bible to live at peace with everyone as far as it depends on us (Romans 12:18), and to “turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it” (Psalm 34:14). With offenses come hurt and thoughts to complain, slander, hate, and hurt others back in vengeful attitudes. We have a responsibility to live at peace with others (Romans 12:18-19). The Bible teaches us not repay anyone with evil, but to seek to do good to one another and overcome evil with good (1 Thessalonians 5:15; Romans 12:21). You may ask, “What if the person who offended me doesn’t want to speak to me”? The Word of God teaches us to love our enemies, bless them, pray for them, lend to them without expecting to get anything back, and do good to them (1 Peter 4:8; Matthew 5:43-48; Luke 6:27-35; Proverbs 25:21).
We have heard people say, “I will not forgive somebody unless they first apologize” or “I will forgive only after this person asks for forgiveness”. Children of God are called to be peacemakers (Matthew 5:9). Therefore, even if someone has not asked for forgiveness, it is right and good to extend it whether they know it or not; this is so that we also may be forgiven our own sins and have peace and assurance of eternal life (Matthew 6:14-16; Luke 6:37). Likewise, if you unknowingly hurt someone and they inform you that you hurt them, it is helpful to some people to hear you apologize if you are willing to repent genuinely (Luke 17:3). Please don’t be the kind of person who waits days, weeks, and months or until someone is begging for or demanding an apology in order for you to finally repent. Remember that your repentance could soften someone’s heart to forgive (Luke 17:3). But like the Lord Jesus, it is good and wise to forgive regardless of whether you receive an apology or not (Luke 23:34). Your life is not guaranteed tomorrow, and you don’t want to die in sin! The Lord Jesus clearly warns us that “…if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:15). Forgiving others is key to having peace, not only with oneself but most importantly with God. Holding on to unforgiveness not only steals peace, but it also hinders our prayers. As we shared in our two-part message on Spiritual Abuse in the Church, experiencing betrayal and exploitation at the hands of fellow Christians can especially be devastating to one’s faith. We once experienced betrayal and manipulation at a church we were part of and the pain lingered on for several months. As we prayed and studied God’s Word and meditated on Scripture, the Holy Spirit began to heal us, comfort us, liberate us, and restore peace and joy. We discovered that forgiving others is sometimes not a “once and done” deal, but one has to keep on forgiving every time the painful memory resurfaces until it fully fades away (Matthew 18:21-22).
We should never give up our eternal salvation because of mere men who will soon perish. Instead, our hope and focus should always be on the Lord our Maker and our Savior Jesus Christ (Isaiah 51:12-13; Titus 2:13). It is always important to remember that it is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself paid the price for our sins and redeemed us with His precious blood (Isaiah 53:4-5; Galatians 3:13-15). We should, therefore, surrender all our pain and anxieties and submit our grievances to Him, for He cares for us and will sustain us (Psalm 55:22; 1 Peter 5:7).
Anger and strife also deteriorate peace. Having an impatient and complaining attitude (Numbers 14:2-3) can result in the hurling of insults and offensive comments, stirring more anger and rage. This is not only hurtful, but emotionally draining as well, leaving those involved feeling down, discouraged, and “beat up” in the heart. You may have experienced such discouragement and disappointment from your spouse, co-workers, siblings, and even close friends. However, the Bible admonishes us “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord “(Hebrews 12:14) and “pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding” (Romans 14:19). In whatever trials, problems or challenges you face, however unjust or grievous you feel about the offense against you, please don’t let yourself be enslaved with anger, malice, strife, and unforgiveness. The Bible encourages us thus:
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls (1 Peter 1:6-9).
In eagerness to maintain the unity of Spirit in the bond of peace, we are called not to sin in our anger or let the sun go down while we are still angry (Ephesians 4:3; 26). In our own experience, we have noticed that going to bed at peace with others also adds to our peace with God. It is pleasing to God and a good way to avoid stifling the Spirit of God (1 Thessalonians 5:19). Even if it takes an inconvenient amount of time to pray, discuss, and resolve the issue or the uncomfortable feelings of humbling oneself to show love and apologize for wrongdoing, it is worth doing in obedience to God and maintaining the unity of the Spirit. Indeed, sleep is sweet when we have resolved our issues and reconciled with others through repentance or forgiveness (Hebrews 12:15). Since we do not know the day or hour of the Lord’s coming, it will be wise to be found at peace being ready when He comes “whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn” (Mark 13:35).
Furthermore, sometimes we may be grieved, hurt or offended by the words of actions of people in authority, whether we personally know them or not – for example, politicians, law enforcement officers, preachers, our bosses at work, etc. We have seen how, for example, during times of political elections or occurrence of social injustice (racism, terrorism, etc.) tempers flare and division is high. The Bible encourages us to pray and intercede for our cities and for all people including our leaders and all those in high positions so that we may have peaceful, quiet, prosperous, godly and dignified lives (1 Timothy 2:1-2; Jeremiah 29:7). There are many people who are enslaved by the sin of hatred and strife, and they are silently crying out for help. In reaching out to people who are in any kind of distress or need, wishing them peace is simply not sufficient; we should be ready and willing to share our time, food, encouraging words, money, and whatever other resources that they need to overcome (James 2:14-24).
Having Peace with God
Having peace with God means having the assurance of eternal salvation (John 3:16). It begins with accepting Jesus as our Lord and Savior, repenting of our sins, forgiving others their sins against us, and being obedient to the Lord’s commands (Romans 10:9-10; 1 John 1:9; Isaiah 32:17; John 14:15-18). Those who believe in, trust, and follow the Lord Jesus Christ have been justified by faith and have peace with God (Romans 5:1). Loving and being obedient to God’s law causes us to please Him and yields great peace (Psalm 119:165). When we are at peace with God, He will make even our enemies be at peace with us (Proverbs 16:7).
The Bible tells us that Jesus “was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5 NKJV). The Lord gave us His peace and encouraged us not to let our hearts be troubled or be afraid (John 14:27). He also gave us the Helper, the Holy Spirit, who leads us into all truth (John 14:26; 15:26). God promises to take care of all our needs (Matthew 6:31).
The Lord has promised us that when He comes for His children, and in His glorious new creation, all the former things will be forgotten and will not even come to mind (Isaiah 65:17). “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12). Therefore, whatever feelings you’re struggling with, including what others will think about you if you repent, those will be forgotten as long as you are right with God (1 Peter 5:6-7). He intends for us to have a covenant of life and peace with Him; therefore, let us fear Him and honor His name (Malachi 2:5).
Increasingly, as the Bible foretold years ago would happen in the last days, we are seeing a proliferation of false prophets (2 Timothy 3:5; 4:3; 2 Peter 2:1; 1 John 4:1-6; Jude 1:4). Many Christians, especially those who, unlike the Bereans (Acts 17:11), don’t diligently study God’s Word for themselves, are therefore left either confused or with a false sense of peace. The Bible clearly tells us that “God is not a God of confusion but of peace…” (1 Corinthians 14:33). As we shared previously, beware of false prophets, false prophecies, and false visions!
In conclusion, we will leave with these encouraging words:
Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you (2 Corinthians 13:11).
These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world (John 16:33).
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13).
May the God of peace be with you all. Amen (Romans 15:33).
Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way. The Lord be with you all (2 Thessalonians 3:16).
If you would like to have a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, we invite you to start with this Prayer of Salvation. For any questions or comments about this article or our ministry, please feel free to contact us.
Blessed Peace in Christ,
Brother Abes and Sister Janet.