The way some people talk about peace seems very degrading to me. They talk about it as if it is a trick of the mind. As if we just need to clear the papers off our desk and close our eyes, then—poof!—stress is gone and peace arrives. This is such a low view of peace, coming at such a low cost.
This also depicts too high a view of humanity. Peace is inside us, they say, and stress is something always outside us—expectations, assignments, troublesome people. If we can avoid or manage those then we can live in constant peace.
But as sinners, we are not naturally at peace with ourselves because we are not at peace with God, our Creator. We need someone to pay the cost of our sin, and then to change us from the inside. Only then can we have true peace!
The Cost of Peace
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace. (Ephesians 2:13-14)
We can find “peace of mind” when we organize our work life and managing stress. Yet these things cannot achieve our highest need: peace of soul.
We all will face death and judgment. The stress of our souls comes from our awareness, however deep it may be, that there is a life after this one and we need to prepare for it.
Jesus Christ came to earth to give those who believe in Him as Lord an eternal peace of soul. His peace does not come merely from listening to His teachings, but by having faith in Him, because He paid the penalty for our sins.
Let’s say you get caught speeding. The policeman gives you a ticket, and then delivers a moving lecture on the dangers involved in speeding. You are so convicted by the policeman’s speech that you commit yourself to always following the speed limit in the future. A month goes by like this. Are you at peace? Perhaps in your mind, but not in the mind of state who rules over you! You haven’t paid your ticket.
Feeling convicted and committing to change your behavior does not bring you true peace. Payment for your wrongdoing is the catalyst for peace.
We have all sinned (Romans 3:23), and we will not know true peace until our sins are paid for. This is why Ephesians calls Jesus “our peace,” because He paid the penalty of our sins. Consider the cost that this verse indicates—this payment required “the blood of Christ.”
So, true peace came at a great cost and it was paid by Jesus Christ.
We Hold Ourselves Back
For to set the mind on the flesh is death… (Romans 8:6)
If peace has been accomplished in Jesus Christ, so why are we without it in much of our lives? We live in a state of unrest, worry, existential angst because we hold ourselves back.
Here are two reasons why you might not have this peace.
1.) You Have Set Your Mind Against Christ
The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. (John 12:48)
This peace is offered to us through Christ alone. So it follows if you reject Him you reject peace also. Christ teaches on this in John 12, where He reminds those who reject Him that there is judgment waiting for them.
But for those who are in Him, who believe in Him, He provides refuge from that judgment, giving lasting peace.
2.) You Believe in Jesus, but You Have Set Your Mind on Yourself
This is the opposite of the example of the speeding ticket. Here, all is good. Jesus has provided peace for your soul, and yet you still don’t have peace of mind. Why? Because you are not reflecting on the reality that Jesus is Lord.
Here are a few verses to memorize and treasure on this point:
And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:17)
“All things have been handed over to me by my Father.” (Matthew 11:27)
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? (Romans 8:34-35)
The Spirit Compels Us Onward
…but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. (Romans 8:6)
We discussed how Jesus has paid the penalty for our sins, and how we need to believe in Him to find peace. And I want to address a possible misunderstanding. In talking about how peace comes when we find refuge from judgment, we might mistake the cause of our unrest to be God’s judgment rather than our sin.
To put it another way, we might think, Well, sin isn’t the problem, God’s judgment is the problem! If He chose not to judge us, then we would be just fine. Now that sounds a lot like the criminal who says, “I’m not sorry I stole. I’m sorry I got caught!”
To go back to the first half of Romans 8:6 (quoted above) we need to remember that sin brings death. It is not a harmless habit. It erodes everything about us—our desires, our skills, our relationships.
God’s judgment stands in loud opposition to sin. In this way, we can see how God’s judgment is interwoven with His love. His desire for us to have life, “and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). That abundance of life includes true peace!
Listen to what Jesus says about the Holy Spirit:
And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment. (John 16:8)
The Holy Spirit isn’t just trying to “rain on our parade,” the Holy Spirit pushes you toward the thoughts that will bring you to lasting peace! If you remember your sin, you remember your savior. If you remember your failures, you’ll look to the righteousness of God. If you remember the judgment, you remember Jesus is your refuge and peace.
So, don’t fight against the thoughts of sin, righteousness, and judgment today. Follow the promptings of the Spirit, believe and find rest in Jesus Christ, and enjoy the lasting peace God promises!