Wednesday, February 01, 2012

True Peacemakers: Never Peace At Any Price And Often It Brings Strife First

And He knows that true peace can only come when truth reigns and it's more than a truce. It's a real peace. And so when somebody comes along and says well, you know, you have such a narrow view and you need to be more ecumenical. You need to sort of just set aside what you don't agree with and just find the point of agreement and dive in. We just all need to get together and discuss what we agree on. Well, let me tell you something, Christ never pronounced blessing on apostates. And if there was ever anybody that He met who had a point of error, invariably He nailed that point of error. Because the only real peace comes when we respond to the truth. 
If I disagree with somebody about something in the word of God some great truth that's important in the word of God, I cannot evade it. I cannot avoid that and be called a peacemaker. For while I may call a truce, I haven't helped that individual to make peace with God and the end is going to be the same. So biblical peacemakers are not quiet, easygoing people who just want to make no waves and no issues who lack justice, who lack a sense of righteousness, who are compromisers, who are appeasers. No, people say oh he's such a peacemaker. And they mean by that he has no convictions. That isn't the issue. 
A true biblical peacemaker will not let sleeping dogs lie. He will not save the status quo if truth must be brought to bear on the issue. He doesn't say well, you know, I know the person's doing wrong, but oh I just would rather have a peaceful situation. Don't want to say anything about what my son is doing or what my husband is doing or what our friends are doing. Just want to keep peace, that's a cop out. True peace only comes after the truth. So the meaning of peace it is real peace. It is not just peace at any price. It is not keeping the status quo. It is not calling a halt to the shooting while we reload. It is not simply a truce. It is not reducing it to a cold war. It is resolving it by the truth. Bringing to bear the righteousness of God.
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Excerpts from the MacArthur Commentary on Matt. 5:

The popular philosophy of the world, bolstered by the teaching of many psychologists and counselors, is to put self first. But when self is first, peace is last. Self precipitates strife, division, hatred, resentment, and war. It is the great ally of sin and the great enemy of righteousness and, consequently, of peace.

The writer of Hebrews links peace with purity when he instructs believers to "pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord" (Heb. 12:14). Peace cannot be divorced from holiness. "Righteousness and peace have kissed each other" is the beautiful expression of the psalmist (Ps. 85:10). Biblically speaking, then, where there is true peace there is righteousness, holiness, and purity. Trying to bring harmony by compromising righteousness forfeits both.

Jesus’ saying "Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword" (Matt. 10:34) seems to be the antithesis of the seventh beatitude. His meaning, however, was that the peace He came to bring is not peace at any price. There will be opposition before there is harmony; there will be strife before there is peace. To be peacemakers on God’s terms requires being peacemakers on the terms of truth and righteousness-to which the world is in fierce opposition. When believers bring truth to bear on a world that loves falsehood, there will be strife. When believers set God’s standards of righteousness before a world that loves wickedness, there is an inevitable potential for conflict. Yet that is the only way.

Until unrighteousness is changed to righteousness there cannot be godly peace. And the process of resolution is difficult and costly. Truth will produce anger before it produces happiness; righteousness will produce antagonism before it produces harmony. The gospel brings bad feelings before it can bring good feelings. A person who does not first mourn over his own sin will never be satisfied with God’s righteousness.

To talk of peace without talking of repentance of sin is to talk foolishly and vainly. Peacemaking cannot come by circumventing sin, because sin is the source of every conflict.

The bad news of the gospel comes before the good news. Until a person confronts his sin, it makes no sense to offer him a Savior. Until a person faces his false notions, it makes no sense to offer him the truth. Until a person acknowledges his enmity with God, it makes no sense to offer him peace with God.

Believers cannot avoid facing truth, or avoid facing others with the truth, for the sake of harmony. If someone is in serious error about a part of God’s truth, he cannot have a right, peaceful relationship with others until the error is confronted and corrected. Jesus never evaded the issue of wrong doctrine or behavior. He treated the Samaritan woman from Sychar with great love and compassion, but He did not hesitate to confront her godless life. First He confronted her with her immoral living: "You have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband" (John 4:18). Then He corrected her false ideas about worship: "Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, shall you worship the Father. You worship that which you do not know; we worship that which we know, for salvation is from the Jews" (John 4:21–22).

The person who is not willing to disrupt and disturb in God’s name cannot be a peacemaker. To come to terms on anything less than God’s truth and righteousness is to settle for a truce-which confirms sinners in their sin and may leave them even further from the kingdom. Those who in the name of love or kindness or compassion try to witness by appeasement and compromise of God’s Word will find that their witness leads away from Him, not to Him. God’s peacemakers will not let a sleeping dog lie if it is opposed to God’s truth; they will not protect the status quo if it is ungodly and unrighteous. They are not willing to make peace at any price. God’s peace comes only in God’s way. Being a peacemaker is essentially the result of a holy life and the call to others to embrace the gospel of holiness.

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