Should “Peace” Guide Our Decisions?

How many times have you said to yourself or others during a critical decision, “I just don’t have a peace about it yet.”  I have.  And I am reconsidering it.

In a post by Chris Krycho titled “Do you have a peace?” he states four different scenarios eventually leading us to the question of whether or not it is biblical to receive a supernatural assurance of God’s will from Holy Spirit in our decisions.

You need to make a difficult decision, and ask Christian friends for their input. They give some advice, then ask, “Do you have a peace about your decision?”

You’re having a difficult time working through something, and after someone prays for you, they want to know if you’re sensing God’s assurance, and ask, “Do you have a peace, now?”

You’ve just confronted a brother or sister about their sin, and aren’t sure how well the conversation went. To comfort you, a friend asks, “Well, do you have a peace about what you did?”

Do you have a peace about that? Or, to put it in more explicitly theological terms, has the Holy Spirit supernaturally imparted a unique, subjective sense of assurance about a given subject?

After reading his post I needed to go back and assess whether my christianese language could be biblically substantiated or if I needed to admit my incorrect theology and repent (aka take it like a man and say that I was wrong).  

Common Ground

No one is arguing whether or not we are faced with decisions every day and we look to God for those decisions.  Some decisions are insignificant and others range from careers, spouses, and life changing crossroads that leave us spellbound.  We do not doubt that we make decisions but… how does the idea of peace given from the Holy Spirit play into “God’s Will” and His working in and through those decisions?  Non-existent or a gift of peace we must seek before making any decision?

Advocates for Peace as a Determining factor of Gods Will

The argument would go something like this.

If you feel a peace in your heart about a certain decision go for it. If you don’t feel peace continue to wait on the Lord and don’t proceed until you receive that peace.

God has promised the Holy Spirit as a counselor and guide (John 14:15-24).  Those advocating that peace is a critical factor aren’t throwing out the bible as a key altogether.  Godly decisions are two fold: first, the Spirit leads us and second, we make decisions on Godly principles aka the Text.

You might be lead to Proverbs 3:5-6.  A classic text. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge him and He will direct your paths.” But how?  How this direction take place is what we trying to understand.

Matthew 7:7-8 seems to indicate that prayer is a critical part of understanding, but that still doesn’t give us the answer of peace we are looking for.  Matthew 7:7 says, “Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock; and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”

 So the question remains, how is that decision confirmed?

Some would say that the best way they can explain it is that Godly decisions are confirmed by peace!  We may turn to Phil. 4:6 to try and substantiate that peace is our determinative factor.

Phil. 4:6 says, “ Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with Thanksgiving let your request be made known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all comprehension will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus.”

The way Craig Andrus of Christian Heights Church in Sonora, CA says,

“Godly peace is the calm inner assurance that you are pleasing to the Father! Peace allows you to put your head on the pillow at night knowing… all is well!”

The overall point is if you are facing important decision today you can bring it to Jesus and be led by the Spirit to arrive at the appropriate conclusion through that peace.

I am not convinced.

Not Looking For Peace in Our Decisions but Trusting God and His Promises.

This statement leads to peace becoming the result of the believers trust not the ground of the believer’s assurance.

Chris says again,

I cannot find a single instance of someone making a decision or trusting more in God because of a subjective sense of peace imparted to his heart by the Holy Spirit – not one.

I racked my brain, did a few word searches (and a good ol fashion google search-highly reliable) and found nothing.  This didn’t mean the issue was settled in my mind, but it pushed me to investigate further.

A text that Chris didn’t highlight include Colossians 3:15 which would have been a text I would have used to support my understanding of peace as a supernatural spirit lead decision maker. Paul makes reference to the peace that should rule in our hearts.

Paul writes, “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.”

The statement might be finished as letting that peace rule in your hearts as a judgment or decision maker.  This is where exegetical understanding comes into play.  Some could see this verse as a tool for knowing God’s will for our lives.

Greg Koukl says,

This is a classic example of how knowledge of the Greek can be dangerous if context is not taken into consideration. The word peace actually has two different meanings. It could mean a sense of inner harmony and emotional equanimity. Paul seems to have this definition in mind in Philippians 4:7: “And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” This is the subjective sense of peace.

The word also has an objective sense. It sometimes means lack of conflict between two parties formerly at war with each other. This definition of peace is what Paul intends in Romans 5:1: “Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Note the distinction between the peace of God and peace with God in these two verses.)

So the question is what type of peace did Paul have in mind in Col 3:15?  Context.  Context. Context.

Greg Koukl goes on to say,

In verse 11, Paul says that in the Body of Christ there are no divisions between Greek and Jew, slave and free, etc. He appeals for unity in the body characterized by forgiveness, humility, and gentleness. He then adds that harmony (“peace”) should be the rule that guides our relationships.

Paul has the objective sense of peace in mind here lack of conflict between Christians not a subjective feeling of peace in an individual Christian’s heart.

So the question Chris posed at the beginning of the article was whether this peace is something we should seek or if it becomes the assurance of the believers after trusting Gods promises in the bible.

As far as I can see there have been no biblical models of men who sought this peace, but instead we see the promise of peace as a result of stepping out in faith in God’s promises and believing He is who he said He is and will do all that he said he will do.

 

6 thoughts on “Should “Peace” Guide Our Decisions?

  • I don’t think using peace is necessarily wrong, but the point is well-made; we are not promised anything like it. What we are promised, should we ask for it, is wisdom. A person spiritually empowered with wisdom is capable of making right choice (and knowing they’ve made the right choices) whether there is peace there or not. And, in fact, hard choices that are right may not feel at all peaceful when we make them.

    • If by necessarily wrong you mean sometimes you may have a peace in the situation but not using it as a guide I am for it, but if by “necessarily wrong” that you should use it as a guide I would again go back to show me someone who did it. I think you are referring to the former. Great thoughts steve!

  • David, I could not agree more. Actually, one of my first blog posts was regarding the fact that peace is never used as a guiding principle in the Scriptures. To go one step further, is often used as a “spiritual card” to duck out of clearly indicated biblical methods of dealing with problems. For example, confronting a person about real sin issues in their life is hard, so we break up with someone and tell them, “I just don’t have peace about it.”

    For what it’s worth, here’s a link to what I wrote: http://www.noahlomax.com/faith/i-dont-have-peace-about/

    Great post!

    • Yeah man! Classic Christian dating card! And this should transform the way decisions are made in our lives and looking for a new model rather than the “spiritual card” cliche peace…on my way to your blog…

  • David,

    I appreciate the further work you’ve done on this topic; this article expands on and reinforces the points I was making, and you covered quite a bit of ground that I didn’t get to. I especially appreciate the material you pulled in from Greg Koukl, whose work I’ve appreciated since I ran into it last year.

    I also admire your attitude about the whole thing; our automatic response when we run up against a doctrinal view contrary to the one we’ve held is to lash out against it. Would that we all (and I have myself very much in mind here) were so quick to examine our own positions.

    • to keep this from becoming a compliment fest (I’d probably be at fault if that happened) I love to be challenged in what I believe and look forward to checking out the series you’ve been/are on christian living–and that is always where I want to end up. “SO WHAT”? Yeah I learned some stuff, but what difference does it make in my life? (and I always think its makes a difference). I think you get to that point and specifically for this topic—the so what is don’t feel constrained to make decisions and trapped in fear waiting for that peace, trust God and step out in faith. Look to his promises in the bible and use that as a guide in your decisions. keep me posted dude!

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