Peace and Denial

It seems these days I am hearing more often (or maybe am more alert to) people justifying a behavior or course of action by referring to the peace they feel about their decision.

The Bible does promise that followers of Jesus will have peace, "not as the world gives," but a peace that "surpasses understanding" (John 14:27, Philippians 4:7). But that doesn't necessarily mean that a particular decision is right because we feel a "peace" about it. Sometimes peace and denial are nearly impossible to distinguish.

A person who isn't being completely honest with himself or others will often feel a "peace," but it is a counterfeit peace. A person who has spurned godly advice and shut her ears to the voice of the Spirit will sometimes experience a cessation of struggle, but it should not be confused with the peace of God. Sometimes the very act of making a decision--even a sinful one--can be a relief to a soul that has been in turmoil. As C. H. Spurgeon once said, "The foul spirit keeps things quiet in the heart over which he rules."

He goes on (in a sermon entitled "The Peace of the Devil and the Peace of God") to list six sources of such false peace:
  1. ignorance
  2. thoughtlessness
  3. carnal security
  4. superstition
  5. unbelief
  6. companionship
It is extremely dangerous to suppose--without careful and prayerful soul-searching--that my sense of "peace" always comes from God. The devil is a liar and a counterfeiter of every good thing. He will often lullaby us into slumber with a false sense of peace. We must be careful of ourselves. A heart that proclaims, "peace, peace," when there is no peace is flirting with a seared conscience. Or it may be evidence of one.

Spurgeon gives wise counsel:
One prayer I often pray—“Lord, let me know the worst of my case.” And though there is no great pleasure in such a petition, I would suggest that all of you should offer it. It can do you no harm. Pray with the Psalmist, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there are any wicked ways in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” See to it that you are not liars unto your own souls. To many this peace comes through ignorance. They do not know those terrible Truths which would make peace impossible.
The peace of God, on the other hand, comes to the soul who has been honest with himself and with God, and has fully repented, and is fully surrendered. The peace of God will not come to the one who has lied to the Holy Spirit, to the church, or even to herself (Acts 5). God will not lie to us. He will not salve a deceitful heart. Let us do as Spurgeon says and see to it that we are not liars to our own souls, but repent thoroughly and pray ceaselessly until our hearts are clean and we know the peace that passes understanding.

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