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Peace Without False Peace

March 14, 2007

John Calvin says this, “The godly heart feels in itself a division because it is partly imbued with sweetness from its recognition of the divine goodness, partly grieves in bitterness from an awareness of its calamity; partly rests upon the promise of the gospel, partly trembles at the evidence of its own iniquity; partly rejoices in the expectation of life, partly shutters at death” (Institutes of the Christian Religion, vol. 1, p. 564).

This is an interesting perspective considering how we as Christians proclaim the message of personal peace and joy on earth. The message of personal peace and joy must be in the context of joy and peace with God. But this may not be as plain as it appears. Hopefully this will become more clear.

The more we find pleasure and joy in the Lord, the more we mourn the occurrence of sin. The more we crave the coming of Christ and our future heavenly hope, the more our body groans with expectation. And, finally, the more we see clearly life in Christ, the more the thought of the necessity of death to obtain it makes us shudder. The paradox of mourning and joy should be expectant. While we rejoice over the salvation and future glory of our bodies, we mourn our loved ones who neglect the salvation given freely through Christ.

The example of how we rejoice over the victory of Christ over our sin, yet still we mourn our sin that we fall in, I think, makes this paradox clear. John Owen wisely instructs that in times of repentance “Do not speak peace to yourself before God speaks it, but hearken to what God says to your soul.” Why not speak peace to yourself if your sins are paid for and your debt is clear? Simply because of this paradox. While our sins are paid for, only God speaks with true abhorrence of sin and man speaks peace with a heart that is deceitful, giving himself peace without truly killing the sin.

So then, Christians should have peace without false peace and joy without false joy.

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