Monday, December 11, 2006

You Must Go to War To Find Peace


by Larry Rouse
www.cvillechurch.com

The simplest description of a Christian is one who is an imitator of God. This transformation of the spirit of a Christian into “the image of His Son” is God’s eternal plan for every man that comes to Him (Rom 8:29-30). When we honestly look at the nature of man and then that of God, we must marvel at the great power that God has used to bring about that transformation.
Just as a blacksmith hammers out the lump of metal into a useful instrument, our God uses the fires of conflict, guided by His written word and providential care to mold us into His image (James 1:2-4; Rom 5:3-5). Without this process there can be no change.

God Demands that We Know His Character

Jesus plainly showed His followers that all motives and actions on our part must be based on our understanding of how God Himself thinks and acts. How do we deal with an enemy, an angry, bitter man who has hurt us? “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Mt 5:43-45).

God Proclaims That He is a God of Peace

We should listen carefully when God describes Himself. Paul twice used peace to describe the Father’s basic character to the Romans. “Now the God of peace be with you all” (Rom 15:33). “And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly” (Rom 16:20). Paul wrote other churches describing the blessing of having “the God of peace” be “with you” (1 Cor 13:11; Phil 4:9). Later in the New Testament the power of “the God of peace” is displayed by showing His ability to “sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thess 5:23).
What is Peace?

Bible lexicons define the Greek word translated as “peace” as meaning: 1) a state of national tranquility 1a) exemption from the rage and havoc of war 2) peace between individuals, i.e. harmony, concord 3) security, safety, prosperity, felicity, (because peace and harmony make and keep things safe and prosperous) - Thayer’s Lexicon. Peace is an absence of conflict, whether it is between warring parties or between the warring thoughts and purposes in our hearts. God has the power to bring real peace!

What kind of Peace is at the Foundation of God’s Character?

When Jesus was born into the world, the angels declared His mission to bring “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men! (Lk 2:14)” How could Jesus bring peace between sinful men and a holy God? This peace would only come as a result of a bitter war that resulted in the shedding of Jesus’ blood on the cross and the resulting crushing of Satan (Heb 2:14-15; Rom 16:20). Sinful men needed a savior, one that could provid a perfect sacrifice for sin and provide the great power to mold men into a life of repentance and change (Heb 4:12-13, Phil 4:9).

Please understand that peace with God must be placed above any other kind of peace. I must not let the threats of men or even the desire for peace with men cause me to lose peace with God. Satan has always used social relationships to entice the Christian to find “peace” with the world. “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:18-19).

God Expects Us to Find Peace between Christians

Jesus came to set us with war with some and with peace with some. “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household” (Mt 10:34-36). When it comes to a relationship with Christians, those who have found peace with God, then God demands that we remove all obstacles that would create conflict among His people (2 Cor 13:11, James 4:13-18).

Our War for Peace

The battle for peace begins in the heart. We must have a heart that has been crushed and then healed by God in our conversion. Only then can we become “peacemakers” (Mt 5:3-9). Those Christians who are not of this tender, penitent heart cannot be a part of God’s peace. On the contrary, they will attack God’s way of peace and be responsible for an ongoing turmoil against those who seek to serve the Lord (James 4:1-6). Even among the churches of God, there must come a separation between those who repent and seek God and those who Paul described as making their “god ... their belly, and whose glory is in their shame — who set their mind on earthly things (Phil 3:18-19, 1 Cor 11:19). Are you teachable? If not, then you need to go to war with your own heart to find the repentance that will allow Jesus to be in control. (Rev 3:20).

Peace in Local Churches

As God’s peacemaker, I must go to war to maintain the right relationships in a local flock. Because we are people, we will constantly be tempted to fight, look down on and discard our brethren. When I become like God, then I will put the needs of others above my own (Phil 2:3-4). I will also have a genuine love for every soul “for whom Christ died” (Rom 14:15). I will know that the only path to peace will come from that which is pure, that is, God’s word received into a pure heart (2 Tim 2:22, Jas 1:21). Teaching will be at the heart of all who find peace.

Local churches must have brave leaders that will confront and defeat those problems that disrupt peace. When anger and bitterness exist between Christians, then it is urgent that brave men confront this with God’s solution (Mt 5:23-24; 18:15-18, 35). When false teaching arises men must be quick to confront it and challenge it (Titus 1:10-11). If these and other problems are ignored, rest assured they will not “go away.” How many churches have been turned into a sea of turmoil because of bitterness between two people was allowed to linger and spread? “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled” (Hebrews 12:14-15).

We have a great need today for brave men who will go to war for peace! Rather than seeking a compromise of God’s plan of salvation for peace with the denominations, we must fight for God’s peace. Rather than sitting on our hands while watching a local church descend into worldliness, bitterness and pride, we must fight for God’s peace. If you have found that blessed peace that brings brethren together with God and with one another, then you must fight to keep it!

“May the God of peace be with you.”
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