Thursday, June 9, 2011

Where Does Peace Come From?

In John 14:26-27 we read, "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid." Here Jesus tells his disciples that part of the Holy Spirit's work in us will be to give us a peace that is far beyond anything the world can understand. Unfortunately it seems many try to bypass the means and just pray that the Holy Spirit would just give them peace; "Wave your sanctified magic wand and give me peace amid all my problems."

But as vs. 26 points out, the greater context teaches that the Holy Spirit will use the teaching of Christ to be what gives them the strength to overcome the world, sin and the Devil. In other words, the peace that Jesus is going to give isn't just going to come down on us suddenly; it comes through learning God's Word and thinking through the implications. The Bible never tells Christians that we need tranquilizers to be calm instead it teaches that we need to have peace with and know our God and know him well.

I like the way the book of Numbers puts it: 6:24-26, "The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace." Job 22:21,22 is good as well, "Agree with God, and be at peace; thereby good will come to you. Receive instruction from his mouth, and lay up his words in your heart." Again, notice how listening to him is where our strength is.

Just as I sat down to write this article I had an interesting question posed to me in a phone call. It was concerning the trauma caused in someone's life due to horrible experiences in their past. In this case it was young women who not only had suffered abuse themselves but had children as young as two years old who had been abused. Clearly such things can devastate lives especially when one doesn't know the Lord as Savior. The question was, "Can the Holy Spirit erase these memories out of their minds"? As I understood the question, the point was can he do this so that they aren't haunted by these things and can have some semblance of a normal life. My answer was yes he can erase any memory from our minds but I don't believe that is what he will do.

This relates to what we have been studying on Wednesday nights for the last few weeks. The process of sanctification doesn't happen all at once. The Holy Spirit doesn't just make us strong, mature Christians. We can pray all we want for him to make us holy but if we don't use the means the Lord has given us, it just isn't going to happen. Sanctification comes through growth in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. As we learn more of God and his will and more of ourselves and as our love for Christ grows we are better able to deal with whatever circumstances he sends our way.

So in the case of those who have suffered some horrible things in their past, the way to overcome them is to have a right relationship with Christ through the cross and to come to understand why these things happen and what God's will is for us in them. The Holy Spirit will give us the strength and peace we need through the Word.

The problem I see with him just erasing them out of our minds is that this defeats the whole purpose of this life in the flesh to begin with. If he was just going to make all our problems disappear then why does he send them to start with? It is glorifying the Lord in affliction that gives our lives meaning. If memories of past horrors disappear from my mind then how can I serve him through them? How can I take up my cross daily and follow Christ if I can't remember the cross?

The words in John 14 were spoken to his disciples so that they would have peace. They were for the most part going to suffer all sorts of horrible things before they died. This has been the case of God's people all through history. Read Hebrews 11. Are we to suppose that the family of some prophet who was sawn in half were supposed to take a sedative to "cope" with this? Even less likely did God see fit to cause them to forget all about it so that they were able to go on their merry way? I don't think so.

Sin brings a lot of sorrow and even horror to life. This is true for all of us and for some in particular. But it is knowing that there is a purpose behind it all ordained by a Holy, Sovereign Lord that allows us to be faithful in it. The only alternative is that God didn't want it to happen but couldn't stop it and so such things have no meaning. Surely the Truth shall make us free; knowing truth gives us the answers we need.



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