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 Peace

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Statesman63
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PostSubject: Peace   Sat Jun 09, 2018 4:04 pm

Peace

Why reinvent the wheel? Dr. Tony Evans in one of his sermons on peace really laid out what biblical peace is all about and how to obtain it. I’m going to be quoting him several times throughout this write-up and will add my measly two cents along the way. His sermon, “Footwear of Peace,” tackled the topic of peace through the perspective of spiritual warfare. Since this site is about ridding anxiety and depression, that is exactly the perspective that we should start from.

Jesus says in John 16:33, “I have told you these things so that you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” At first glance Jesus’ words sound like a contradiction. He said that He gives us peace through the words He spoke and in the very next sentence He guarantees that we will have trouble. One might retort, “I thought that if we have peace that means that we are free from trouble!” Such one does not know what true peace is. We clearly see here that peace is not the absence of trouble.

So what is peace? The opposite of peace is anxiety. Basically, if you are suffering with anxiety and depression, you are absent of peace. Dr. Evans states the biblical definition of peace as: “Peace is calm and tranquility of the soul in the midst of difficult circumstances.” Peace has to do with spiritual warfare as we will see in the book of Ephesians. One does not know if one is at peace if there are no difficult circumstances to verify that. God’s peace—His peace that surpasses all understanding—keeps you at peace even through the storms of life. So it is important to know that trials are necessary and required for both establishing God’s peace (because trials strengthen peace), and verifying that it is true peace. If you suffer with panic attacks, that is trials enough (because it is a mental battle), which when true peace comes, it will be verified by the juxtaposition of God’s peace and the new absence of fear.

To take this a step further, the world has its definition of peace. The origin of the world’s peace is external. If a person of the world wins a million dollars, suddenly they think they are at peace. The world’s peace is circumstantial. Something good must happen on the outside in order for them to feel peaceful on the inside. The world’s peace is devoid of trials. A trial automatically cancels the peace of a worldly person because their peace is dependent on having no trials. The world’s peace is temporary. Since their peace is dependent on outside circumstances, that means that their peace is fleeting. And finally, the world’s peace is a cover-up or masking of their lack of true peace. Since they are not truly peaceful on the inside, they have to take medication from the outside to mask the turmoil within. People often use sin as a mask for peace. Some turn to sex for temporary peace to mask what is really going on within. God’s peace is internal and is always there regardless of the external circumstances. God’s peace is not dependent on what is happening externally.

Our main passage today is Ephesians 6:15. It is a clause that concludes a sentence, and it says, “...and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the Gospel of peace.” Paul is talking about our spiritual armor that God provided us with in Christ for our spiritual warfare. Peace is necessary for our spiritual war. God gave us Peace Shoes that we must put on and wear at all times. Paul has in mind the Roman soldier where he describes our spiritual armor. The Roman soldier had metal spikes or cleats coming out of the bottom of their shoes to assure sure footing on rough terrain and during an attack. Those spikes would dig deep into the ground to keep the wearer of the shoes stable and prevent them from toppling over when attacked by an enemy. Psalm 1:1-3 says that a person who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way of sinners, but delights in the LORD and meditates on His Word is like a sure footed person who is like a tree planted in streams of water. The spikes of your spiritual shoes are to sink deep into God’s Word and stabilize you when the enemy attacks. The enemy cannot knock you over when your spiritual shoes are sunken deep in God’s Word through faith.

Paul says that our feet should be fitted with readiness. We have to always be ready for attacks from Satan and demons. They will attack. If you are suffering from anxiety that verifies that they have been attacking. Jesus was ready when Satan tempted him in the desert. Jesus was ready with the knowledge of the Word of God. That is the only weapon that we have that Satan is vulnerable to. Included in our spiritual armor is the Sword of the Spirit, which Paul tells us is the Word of God. If you do not know the Word of God and its immediate applications, you will not be ready when your trial catches you off guard. The shoes of the Roman soldiers had either straps or laces that, when laced correctly, made sure that the shoe would not slip off. We need to strap on the Word of God to the forefront of our thoughts.

Paul says that our readiness comes from the Gospel of peace. The Greek word for Gospel is “euaggelion.” It is pronounced as “evangelion” or (yoo-ang-ghel'-ee-on). It literally means “Good News.” The Gospel is the good news of Jesus Christ and the message of salvation—His payment on the Cross for the remission of our sins and His resurrection to life for our justification, sanctification, redemption, and righteousness. Jesus Christ is the summary of the Gospel. That Gospel is a gospel of peace. The Greek word for peace is “eiréné,” pronounced as: (i-ray'-nay). It means peace of mind, or more precisely, wholeness of mind. When anxiety, fear, angst, and depression set in, that is a battle of the mind. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 10 that we are in a spiritual and mental war. He says in verse 5 that we have to take captive every thought and make it obedient to Jesus Christ. He says in verse 5 that anything that sets itself up against the Gospel, we are to reject. In this war, that verse says, we have to take hostages. We have to take hostage the thoughts of the flesh and the thoughts of demons and tell them who they must obey, that is, Christ. They are not obligated to obey you, but they are obligated to obey Him.

Dr. Evans takes us to 1 Thessalonians 5:23. It says, “May God Himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” This verse says that God is the God of peace, who sanctifies us through and through, which includes our spirit, soul and body. Dr. Evans points out that the order of this verse is very important. God sanctifies in this order only. He starts with our spirit, which reaches our soul, and that affects the body. God does not start with the body. The body can do nothing good for the soul. We often in trying to overcome anxiety and depression, start with the body first. But that is backwards—we must start with the spirit, which will rub off on the soul and then that will be able to subdue the body to the will of God.

Let’s review our makeup. You and I are made up of three parts. We are triune beings, just as God, who is spirit only, is a Triune being. God’s Triune being consists of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Our triune being consists of the spirit, soul, and body. (And just as a side note, the family’s triune being consists of father, mother, and children.) Between the time when we will physically die and are given our newly resurrected bodies, we will temporarily be bi-une beings (yes, I made up a word), made up of only of spirit and soul, abiding with God in His current Heaven. But God is going to raise up for us new glorified bodies and then we will be forever triune beings, completely perfected in every way.

Through the seed of Adam, everyone is born with a contaminated spirit, soul, and body—contaminated by sin. Dr. Evans points out that in Christ, God’s DNA rubs off onto our spirits. Jesus Christ perfected the believers’ spirits in righteousness through His resurrection. Our natural spirits died with Christ and rose again with Christ as a new creation. Our spirits are as righteous and perfect as God Himself and are fully qualified for Heaven. Our souls are not that lucky. In this lifetime our souls are battling between submitting to the spirit or the flesh. Our souls are currently becoming saved. Our souls are imperfect, but will become perfected when we meet Christ in person. Your soul is basically synonymous with your personality. It is your conscience. Our personalities have obviously not been made perfect, and there is a constant battle between our personalities obeying the Spirit or obeying the flesh.

This is important, so please bear with me: In the bible, your body is synonymous with the flesh. Your hands are flesh—they want to touch what God said not to touch. Your tongue is flesh—it wants to speak what God said to not speak. Your brain is flesh—it wants to think what thoughts in opposition to God. The flesh is always in opposition to God. The flesh will forever be in opposition to God until you die and drop the flesh—therefore no longer having it. Our goal is not to stop the flesh from being the flesh, but to subdue it and make the spirit override the flesh and be the dominating factor for your soul. Jesus took away the sin from your spirit, but did nothing for the body except crucify it. The bible says over and over again that Jesus crucified the flesh. It also says that your flesh is where sin resides (Romans 7:21-24). What does it mean that your flesh has been crucified in Christ (see Romans 6:6)? The word “crucify” means to kill something. When something is dead, it is no longer operative. Jesus killed the flesh. The flesh is no longer actively producing more sin. Its production system has been shut down. However, the sin it produced already throughout your lifetime up until the moment you got saved didn’t go anywhere. It left your spirit, but now resides in your flesh, and your soul is tempted by it constantly. There are steps to take to lessen the magnitude of its temptation. Please refer to the “How to Stop Sinning” lesson for further steps on how to remedy that.

Satan tempts your personality (or soul) to feed the flesh and to obey its desires. The flesh itself is calling your soul to feed it. Satan tries to exacerbate the hunger pains of the flesh by feeding your soul with lies. We no longer have to give in to the flesh. Galatians 5:16 says, “So I say, live by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” That statement is the Truth. It is God’s Word, therefore it is the Truth. Satan does not want us to know who we really are. He wants us to think we are still sinners who must sin. This lie is even preached in many churches today. It is even in our songs: “I’m a sinner, saved by grace.” No, you were a sinner, but in Christ, you are now a saint who at times falls to sin because of the flesh. If we believe we are a sinner, we will sin more. If you know you are now a saint you will sin less. If we don’t know our new identity in Christ, we will believe that we are still slaves to the flesh. But if we know who we are in Christ, then we will be able to live by the Spirit and not gratify the desires of the flesh.

So let’s go back to 1 Thessalonians 5:23. I’ll quote it again. It says, “May God Himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Once again, the order is important. Dr. Evans said, “If the mind is malfunctioning, that means we have a malfunctioning soul, which leads to a malfunctioning body.” He also says, “If want to get the body to work right, have to get the soul to work right. But the soul has been affected by how we have been raised, the sins we have committed, and our past experiences.” We have to get the soul to operate in peace. Your body becomes out of whack when your soul is out of whack. The soul dictates to the body how to respond. Dr. Evans said, “The goal of the spirit is to release into the soul the DNA of God. The goal of the soul is to release into the body the DNA that came from the spirit.” The question is how do we get the soul to live by the peace that comes from God? Dr. Evans answers that saying, “The soul must agree with the spirit.” I’ll repeat this important statement for emphasis: the soul must agree with the spirit. The spirit only releases God’s DNA if the soul agrees with it. Your peace does not originate from your body: it originates from your spirit. That means that we have to agree with Truth in order to experience God’s peace. Truth is revealed in the Word of God.

Okay, so in order to get to peace, we have to get your soul and my soul to agree with the spirit that is linked to the peace of God’s Spirit. We must agree with Truth. How can we agree with Truth if we don’t know it intimately? It doesn’t help if when anxiety comes, we have no Scriptures in mind. We have to be ready with the Truth for when the opportunity arrives for us to apply it. Then, we need to understand that the power of Scripture is not merely in the memorization of it. It is possible to memorize the entire Bible, but not have access to its power. There is much power in the Word. There is enough power in God’s Word to overcome your anxiety. The power is only accessed through faith. One must believe in the Scripture in order to release its power. And faith is not just a thought. Faith must be in the feet, not just in the mind. In order to get to peace, we have to get to Truth, but to get to Truth we have to go through faith. Therefore, much of our efforts should be in increasing our faith. But how do we increase our faith?

Faith is merely believing and agreeing with Truth and acting out that Truth. Faith is believing what God said and acting on it. Again, faith is not just believing. One can believe God’s Word, but not have faith if he or she does not act on that belief. Faith is acting as if God is telling the truth. The Truth in the case of this study is God’s promised peace. We must act as if God’s peace has been provided for whatever particular situation that you are going through at that particular time. Each event requires new faith. Faith is not laurel based. Yesterday’s faith can do nothing for you today. We have to constantly manage our faith and make sure that even in this moment we agree enough with the Truth to act on it, believing that God has already paved the way for your peace to be actualized.

Fear is the opposite of faith. Fear seeks to get you to not believe that God is telling the truth. When we fear, we are actually calling God a liar. I know that sounds harsh, but that is the truth. Fear is a lack of faith. The bible says that without faith it is impossible to please God. Fear takes Truth and seeks to turn it into a lie in our minds. That is why we must never reason the thoughts of fear. We must never dabble in its thoughts. We must avoid it at all costs. The thoughts of fear are lies. They are also irrational. The thoughts of anxiety don’t make sense if you think about them rationally and honestly. Therefore do not entertain its thoughts. Fight anxiety from the realm of faith and Truth, not from the realm of fear. A decrease of fear is an automatic increase of faith. We must go in faith realizing that the Truth will override the fear. When we agree with the Truth, the fear goes away. We have to train the flesh to make submitting to Truth to be the norm instead of giving in to fear. The flesh can be tamed. Jesus tamed it for us on the Cross by crucifying it, but we must learn to not feed it and strengthen it, giving it power that it does not legally have. The flesh gets it strength by piggy-backing on the lies of Satan. God’s Truth is greater than Satan’s lies. Therefore we have to meditate on God’s Truth by believing it to be so, so that we will weaken the flesh that feeds on lies, to increase our faith to access God’s peace.

Because faith is the opposite of worry, faith itself can heal us from anxiety. Jesus says in Mark 5:34, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” Here we see a direct connection between the peace and freedom of Jesus and our faith. This is the lady who had a menstrual bleeding problem for over 12 years. She constantly bled. She was not able to procreate in her current condition. Her problem was not only a physical one, but also a spiritual one because the Old Testament says that a woman who bleeds is spiritually unclean until her bleeding period is over—and she has to make certain restitutions after that in order to be clean. So this lady has been unclean for 12 years. She saw Jesus coming towards her in a crowd and she thought that if she could just touch Jesus she would be healed. She pushed her way through the obstacle of the crowd to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment. She wasn’t even going for His skin. She figured that just touching what Jesus is touching is powerful enough to heal her. Maybe she didn’t feel worthy to touch Him directly in her unclean state. When she touched Jesus’ garments, Jesus stopped and said “Who touched my clothes?” What is interesting here is that Jesus is in a crowd, so everyone is bumping into Him and touching Him. But this touch was different from the normal contact He was receiving from the crowd. This was a touch of faith which, according to Jesus in one of the other Gospel books, released power from Him. Jesus attributed her healing to her faith. Be careful to not have faith in the faith. There is no power in faith itself. The power of faith is in the Object of the faith, not the faith itself. She had faith in Jesus, not faith detached from a person. To increase faith is to increase our perception of Jesus and His ability and willingness to intervene in our situation. She acted on her faith which made it true faith. She fought through the crowds and risked Jesus calling her out as an unclean woman would dare touch the garments of the Lord. Faith is risky. She was willing to take the risk. And in Mark 4:40, it says, “He said to His disciples, ‘Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?’” These questions imply that faith in Jesus dispels our fears so long as we stop focusing on what our eyes see and on what our feelings feel, and put our trust in Him.

Since we are discussing peace, I should give a quick word on feelings. Never listen to or trust your feelings because your feelings do not abide in Truth. Never believe that your feelings are the Truth. Your feelings listen to your flesh. Feelings react circumstantially. Go with faith in God’s peace in spite of how you feel. Your feelings will follow what you believe the truth to be. If you believe that fear is the truth then your feelings will follow that. If you believe that what God says is the Truth, your feelings will follow. Feelings have no intellect. They must be told what to think. That’s good news because even though you have been feeling fear for years, your feelings are still trainable because they have no intellect of their own and they submit to the dominate belief pattern of the soul. Go in faith and your feelings will submit even if doesn’t feel that way. The God of peace will tame your feelings when you go in faith. Peace does not originate in your feelings; it originates in the Truth of God who subdues your feelings of fear.

Let’s look at some more Scripture on this issue of peace. John 14:27 says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your heats be troubled and do not be afraid.” Here is a promise of peace from the mouth of our Savior. He not only leaves us with peace, He qualifies it saying that this is His peace that He gives us. The world’s peace is dependent on external things. The world offers peace in the form of money, possessions, sex, food, etc. The world’s peace does not compare to the peace from Jesus. The peace of Jesus starts on the inside and is not dependent on external circumstances. External circumstances can zap away the peace that the world offers because their peace has no power or spiritual authority. Then He says what at first may sound like an unfair statement to people who suffer with panic attacks—He says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” One may retort, “Easier said than done, especially with anxiety.” We “let” our hearts be troubled when our hearts become detached from the One who gives true peace and we start focusing on the storms of the world. Prevent your heart from becoming troubled by resting in faith in Jesus Christ.

2 Thessalonians 3:16 says, “Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.” To obtain peace we must go to its source. Peace originates in Jesus Christ. Peace is located in the person of Jesus Christ. The peace is in His presence. The closer we are to Him the closer we are to His peace. Peace goes where He goes. This should reveal that many of us are seeking peace in the wrong places. If where you are seeking peace has nothing to do with Jesus Christ, you are seeking only a fantasy and not true peace. The doctors cannot give us peace because they don’t connect us to the Lord of peace. It says that Jesus is the Lord of peace. Lordship means ownership. God’s peace has more power than our fears because Jesus is the Lord of it. Peace obeys Him. If we want to obtain peace, we must be under that same Lordship. We cannot be in rebellion to the Lord of peace and expect for His peace to rub off on us. If we really want to rid our fears and obtain peace, we should schedule time each day to get closer to Jesus in prayer and meditation, and then live in obedience to Him daily. We should stop battling the fear and simply get closer to Jesus because He will rid the fear. Anxiety wants you to battle it from the strength of the flesh, but as I said before, do not battle fear from the realm of the flesh, which is its territory, but rather, battle it from the realm of the spirit and God’s Spirit. If you entertain its thoughts you are battling it from its territory.

This peace that Jesus gives covers you at all times and in every way according to this verse. “All times” includes the moments and situations that you have become prone to fear. When fear shows its ugly face, remind fear that Jesus is its Lord and that His peace is what dominates. This takes faith. You must believe this to be so even if it doesn’t feel that way. The Truth is that the Lord of peace overrides fear “at all times.” Our souls have to believe this to be true in order for His peace to be experienced because a lack of faith means that you are not abiding in His presence and the peace is found only in His presence.

It is very important to understand that immorality negates peace. Isaiah 48:22 says, “‘There is no peace,’ says the LORD, ‘for the wicked.’” In case we missed it, he says again in Isaiah 57:21, “‘There is no peace,’ says my God, ‘for the wicked.’” No peace is one of the curses of Deuteronomy 28 for the wicked. Deuteronomy 28:28 says, “The LORD will afflict you with madness, blindness, and confusion of mind.” The opening passage in that section starts with verse 15, which says, “However, if you do not obey the LORD your God and do not carefully follow all His commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come upon you and overtake you.” All of the following curses do not come upon a single person, thank God—God is talking to the nation of Israel here. He is saying that this is the list of curses among which, any of these will follow one of His own who is in rebellion to Him. After Jesus miraculously made a guy whole again, He says in John 5:14, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” Peace is only experienced when we are in fellowship with Jesus. We all fall periodically. The wages of sin is death, but the bible says that there is sin that does not lead to death (1 John 5:17). That means that there is negligible sin that does not break fellowship. Spiritual death in the bible for the Christian means loss of fellowship, not salvation. I point this out so that one does not fear losing one’s peace based on minor infractions. Flagrant immorality and even lack of faith causes us to lose peace. We must avoid deliberate rebellion at all costs so that we can remain connected to the Lord of peace in fellowship. God is faithful and just to forgive us and reestablish our fellowship (and thus peace) when we repent and turn away from our sin.

So let us put on our shoes of peace. 1 Corinthians 7:15 says, “...God has called us to live in peace.” Peace is one of the Fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22. That means that the Spirit is the one who produces the peace. Our job is not to produce peace, but to only be in connection with the Lord of Peace. The bible says that this peace surpasses all understanding, so it is not something for us to figure out the intricacies of how it works. The Spirit will produce the peace when we are connected in fellowship to Jesus Christ. That passage in Galatians goes on to say, “Against such things there is no law.” There is no work that we are to perform to acquire peace so long as we are in fellowship with Him. God will not block our peace. He calls us to live in it. I’ll close by quoting two Scriptures. 2 Thessalonians 3:16: “Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.” Hebrews 13:20-21: “May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing His will, and may He work in us what is pleasing to Him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

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