The most desired of conditions, peace is by far the most elusive.
Peace – in its simplest definition – is the absence of conflict. But there has always been conflict. There was conflict among the angels of heaven. There was conflict in the Paradise of Eden. There has since been conflict between all clans.
We know and appreciate the concept of peace. We crave and long for it. We write and sing about it. We fight and die for it. We want it as much as anything, yet we have no earthly idea how to both obtain and keep it.
The human being is conflicted. He is conflicted with his world, and with his self. Life is a search to ease the stress, curtail the strain, scratch the itch of conflict. But the itch returns, the scratching ensues, and the cycle continues.
These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world (John 16:33).
There will always be tribulation in this world. Literally, the word used here means pressure, a pressing together.
The world is a vice.
Within, without, constant pressure.
Conflict breeds conflict.
Thus, we fortify; we build. We erect facades – of emotion and stone. We fashion steel for the body, and the nerve. We sharpen knives and fork our tongues.
But our weapons and our defenses are useless. One generation hangs the chain-mail, and another puts it on. A father drops the bottle and his son picks it up.
We do not win in the quest for peace. Though, we are good at pretending like we’ve made progress.
Our armor? Light. Our weapons? Like wet paper. Our defenses? Easily exploited.
Peace. What is it?
It is not the absence of warfare.
It is not the removal of interpersonal conflict.
It is not the acquisition of our desires or the relinquishing of petty things.
Man’s true conflict
We keep fighting and losing because we fight the wrong enemy: each other and ourselves.
Man’s true external conflict is with Satan.
Man’s true internal conflict is with his own sin.
This world is under Satan’s sway (1 John 5:19):
- he is its prince (Eph. 2:2)
- he is our adversary (1 Pet. 5:7)
- his work is to blind the world to reality (2 Cor. 4:4)
Among other things, Jesus came to destroy Satan’s work (1 John 3:8). Many ignore this point and are duped.
Jesus, says David Limbaugh in his book The True Jesus, “drags Satan from his hiding places into clear daylight” (p. 178). G. Campbell Morgan wrote: “It is when man submits himself to Jesus Christ that he sees clearly, not God only, not himself only, but his enemy also” (qtd. in Limbaugh, p. 178).
By exposing Satan and winning over him, Jesus reveals the true source of our conflict, and at the same time shows why peace is so elusive, and why our weapons are not winning.
Rather than resisting Satan, most people serve him. Rather than seeking forgiveness, most refuse to acknowledge sin. Many blame God.
The prophets bemoaned when Israel talked much of peace, but ignored God’s advice:
They offer superficial treatments for my people’s mortal wound. They give assurances of peace when there is no peace (Jer. 6:14, NLT).
Can a band-aid stop an arterial bleed? Will it be stopped by refusing to look at it?
Sin must be acknowledged.
Satan must be resisted.
God must be trusted.
Here, alone, is man’s peace.