Fear, worry, and anxiety are signs of spiritual depression. Martyn Lloyd-Jones described spiritual depression as “a heaviness of the soul, an unhappiness that touches the deepest parts of one’s soul.” It is how the Psalmist wrote: “Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me?” (Psalm 42:5a). The soul is in despair and disturbed because it is lacking peace. Peace is priceless. With peace comes contentment and joy. The Jewish people have a word in Hebrew that is usually translated as peace. It is Shalom. Shalom means wholeness or completeness. One Jewish commentator said it this way:
Shalom appears 237 times in the Bible in various meanings. In most references shalom means tranquility, security, peace, and wellbeing. However, shalom also means health, welfare, completeness, and safety.
God wants His children to have shalom (peace). In 2 Thessalonians 3:16 the Apostle Paul wrote, “Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance. The Lord be with you all.” We can have peace because of Jesus Christ. True and lasting peace is only possible through Jesus Christ because peace only comes through forgiveness. All other attempts to find peace are fruitless. We continue to fight one another because we refuse to forgive one another.
700 years before Jesus was born, Isaiah prophesied about Him. He called Him Immanuel (God with us) and said of Him: “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). In today’s sermon we shall consider how Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, brings peace into our lives.
Peace with God
First, Jesus brings peace with God. Romans 1:18 says, “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.” Through Jesus, God forgives us (Eph 1:7) “by cancelling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands” (Col 2:14). We are not only forgiven, but we are also reconciled to God and justified. Being justified, we now have peace with God (Rom 5:1). Christ’s death was a substitutionary death on behalf of His people. Christ’s death was a means to propitiate the wrath of God (satisfying the wrath of God and bringing peace) and expiate our sin (remove the sin and guilt of His people). This means that, for Christians, God never has one shred of wrath or enmity towards us. God sees us as “in Christ”. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold the new has come.” Being reconciled to God through Christ, we are saved (Rom 5:10). Augustine of Hippo wrote, “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”
Peace with Myself
Second, Jesus brings peace with yourself. For many people, their biggest critic is themself. Through Jesus, God humbles us by cleansing us of our pride. Pride manifests itself in two distinct ways: 1) Thinking too highly of ourselves and 2) Thinking too lowly of ourselves. When we think too highly of ourselves, we believe we are great, and we demand that others see how great we are. If we receive praise we celebrate, but if we do not receive praise, we get upset. When we think too lowly of ourselves, we believe we are being treated unfairly and we wish others would have pity on us. If we receive pity, we are satisfied, but if we do not receive pity, we get upset. Both are manifestations of pride because they both come because of an unhealthy fixation on oneself. Jesus frees us from both forms of pride by helping us to humbly stop thinking of ourselves so much. C.S. Lewis once said, “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” True humility is looking at yourself through God’s eyes. You are God’s workmanship (Eph 2:10) created in His image (Gen 1:26). God’s love for you is great and His answer to our lack of peace is to turn our attention to Him.
Peace with My Neighbor
Third, Jesus brings peace with your neighbor. Because of sin it is impossible to live at peace with everyone; but, with Jesus, you can have peace even amid conflict. Jesus said the greatest command was to love God (Matt 22:37) and the second is to love your neighbor (Matt 22:39). In response, a man asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29). Jesus replied with the parable of the Good Samaritan to show that the proper question is not “Who is worthy to be my neighbor?” but “Who needs mercy?” Through Jesus, we can have peace with our neighbor because we love our neighbor. In this life, we encounter two types of neighbors: friends and enemies. With our friends it is easy to have peace because we receive peace in return. With our enemies it is difficult to have peace because we do not receive peace in return. How do we respond then to our enemies? Our response to both types of neighbors are the same. We are to be a neighbor to all and to help them in their time of need (Rom 12:20). The key to living at peace with your neighbor is to always strive to live at peace with your neighbor (Rom 12:18). Through Jesus, we can have peace in our hearts even when we do not have peace with our neighbor.
Remember the Psalmist asking his soul why it is cast down and disquieted? In the rest of the verse we see the cure for his affliction: “Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence.” (Psalm 42:5b). Are you tired of fighting? Are you sick of having bitterness and resentment towards God? Yourself? Others? Remember, true and lasting peace is only possible through Jesus Christ because only Jesus brings the key to peace: forgiveness. When you are forgiven by God, you can forgive yourself and forgive others. If you are not a Christian, admit that you are a sinner and repent of your sin. Believe that Jesus is God’s Son who died to bring forgiveness for your sin. Confess your faith in Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord. Be freed from the bondage of sin and find true and lasting peace.