Beatitudes 42: Peace 4

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:8)

Last week we looked at the fact that human beings are to be peacemakers. This thought should chill us to the bone to think that we reside in a small fraction of eternity in the presence of the majesty of an omnipotent and omnipresent God who is thrice holy. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. All human beings are born with a nature by which they are at enmity with God. All of them will fall into the hands of that living God from whom there is no escape or hope of anything but eternal torment. There is one way and one way only of peace with this God and human beings are to proclaim that way of peace in the Gospel. It is vital to understand the sinful nature of human beings and then the true nature of the Gospel if we are going to be peacemakers. A peacemaker is one who understands both parties and the way of reconciliation between them. If we misunderstand one of the parties, we will not have a way of peace to proclaim but will instead be crying “peace, peace, when there is no peace” (Jeremiah 6:14). Being a peacemaker is deadly serious business.

In the first newsletter dealing with this beatitude (peacemaker) it set out how we must understand the fact that men hate God and are at enmity with Him. That was set out to show that the hatred human beings have for God demonstrates that we must have peace with God and what kind of peace is being discussed. In this newsletter we are going to look at the nature of man in order that we are sure we understand the kind of people we are dealing with in order to approach them correctly and in order to know in a fuller way the kind of peace they need. Without going over the same ground to the extent that we did in the first newsletter on this issue, we can simply give one verse or so and point it out again as a way of refreshing our memories.

James 4:4: “You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”? 6 But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.”

All across our land we see people in and out of churches that are friends with the world. We must remember that even in our church and denomination we can be friends with the world in the way we do things and in our attitudes and approaches. We can be conservative in theology and still be friends with the world in our approach. It can be as simple as making people of the world more comfortable at church. We are to take away all things that would cause one to be offended unnecessarily, but if we are not careful we will offend God. Our greatest duty and love in the church is to be a dwelling place of God. He is the One that we must not offend at any cost. If we are more concerned with not offending men than God, we are idolaters. The world could care less about offending God and so they are at enmity with God. They don’t want to offend their friends, but they don’t care about offending God. This shows the enmity of the heart and hostility they have toward God. A person that we don’t care about offending is a person we have no respect for and is in some way our enemy. That is the way the world treats God.

Part of being at enmity with God and hating God is to do all things out of self-love and concern for self. Romans 3:23 defines sin for us “falling short of the glory of God.” What is it in what we do that displays enmity with God? It is that we do it for ourselves and our own pleasure, honor and glory rather than God’s. If we are not doing something to the glory of God, we are doing to the glory of ourselves. We take the image of God (ourselves) and live in such a way that we desire glory for ourselves rather than for Him. Here are some texts which teach this:

Luke 16:13 “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”

Romans 8:7 because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so,

2 Timothy 3:2: “For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy.” 3:4: “treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.”

Philippians 2:21: “For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus.”

Seeking the interests of self instead of the interests of Christ is to be at war with God. Those who love pleasure rather than the true God, even though they may seek a false god and find pleasure in that, are at enmity with God because of selfish pleasure. It is as lovers of self (II Timothy 3:2) that men love money and become boastful and arrogant. It is love of self that make men treacherous and reckless rather than lovers of God. When the mind is set on the flesh (fallen self) it cannot please God and is hostile toward God. All that comes from the flesh even though it may be very religious is that which is hostile with God. The Pharisees were very religious and they did it for selfish reasons. We must get at the true heart of sin if we are going to be true peacemakers. When the Pharisees prayed, fasted, and gave alms they were demonstrating hatred for the true God because they did all of those things for selfish reasons and to gain honor from men rather than honor for God (Matthew 6:1-7, 16-18).

True peacemakers must understand this selfish and self-centered aspect of men or they will be like the Pharisees who crossed land and sea and simply made sons of hell: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves” (Matthew 23:15). In this there will be no true peace, but in fact increase the war with God in the name of religion. It is possible to take those with no religion and make them religious and the result will be that those people are simply deceived and even greater enemies of God. Men are born children of the devil and unless they are born from above they will always be children of the devil even if they are the most outwardly religious people in the church. They have no peace with God in reality and go around with nothing more than words of deception as their father the devil did. Here are two verses that show that people are children of the devil and that in the first verse this is not contradictory to being religious people.

John 8:44: “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” In this text Jesus is speaking to very religious people and even those that the text says believed in Him (v. 31). They came to some form of outward belief but they were still not at peace with God. Acts 13:10: “You who are full of all deceit and fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease to make crooked the straight ways of the Lord?” Here we see how Paul addressed a man who opposed the message of the Gospel. Unbelieving people are indeed children of the devil because all men are liars in their unregenerate nature. Many people will try an outward form of religion but inwardly they are still children of the devil. We must understand something of this or we will not be true peacemakers but will actually deceive people.

Unbelievers are spiritually dead in sins and trespasses (Ephesians 2:1-3). They don’t need to pray a prayer and put on a dress of religion, they need to be made alive in Christ and reconciled to God. If we approach the duty and privilege of being peacemakers without realizing that people must be made alive, we are in great danger of deceiving them. Many of those in bondage to the flesh and self-love are ready to pray a prayer or make a moral reformation from self-love, but they are still dead in their sins and trespasses. What will we tell a dead person to do to make peace with God? Will we tell a dead person to reform his life and be good? Will we tell a dead person to make his peace with God? Will we tell a dead person to go to church and get involved as a sign of life? What is a sign of life? We must know these things if we are going to be peacemakers in the biblical sense of the word.

We must also know that those we are going to have no ability of themselves to make themselves alive and savingly come to Christ. Jesus taught this in multiple places: John 6:44: “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.” John 3:3: “Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Paul taught it in Romans 8:7: “because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so.” We must understand that a person that is at enmity with God really hates God, lives out of love for self in all that he does, is a child of the devil and is dead in sins and trespasses is a person without ability to help save himself in the smallest of ways. Peacemakers go to men who need to have peace with God armed with the necessary understanding of those they go to. If they don’t, the self-love of others will do many things they think leads to peace. But they are still spiritually dead children of hell and we will have helped deceive them.

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