Sometimes I wonder if our search for inner peace doesn’t occasionally lead us down the wrong path.  It’s easy to pray and read the Bible looking for God to grant us peace, but I know many times as I read God’s word that, instead of peace, I feel a little bit discontented.  I’ll read a passage that seems odd to me and my first though is usually, “Is that right?”  While this can be caused by a misunderstanding of a scripture, more often then not, it is not an error in understanding but an error in me that God is trying to correct through the Bible.

The Sermon on the Mount, Matthew chapters 5-7 is a great example of scripture that can and does challenge our preconceived notions.  Anger for a brother is murder.  Lust for another is adultery.  One particular teaching from Matthew 5:31-32 and 19:1-10 on divorce can be particularly difficult.  In these passages, Jesus says that if a man and woman divorce for any reason other than sexual immorality and then remarry, they (meaning the formerly married couple) commit adultery as do those whom marry the divorcees.   It is a teaching that even greatly troubled those that heard it in Jesus’ day (see Matthew 19).

When we encounter difficult scriptures, such as these, that cause unrest in our spirits, there are two paths that we must choose between.  The first path leads down the road of moral relativism as we try to explain the scriptures away.  For example, people say things like, “The scripture is antiquated and doesn’t apply today,” “It’s out of touch with society,” or, “This scripture was just used to control people and is irrelevant with the freedom we have.”  We can even take a scripture and completely misrepresent the teaching to suit our own desires.  Nothing, though, along this path leads us to the truth.

The other path, instead of judging scriptures based on our own personal bias and beliefs, takes us to a place where, “The word of God is living and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart (Hebrews 4:12 NKJV).”   Along this path, we allow the scripture to enter our lives and change us – our beliefs, our bias, and our understanding of God and the world. 

We gain an understanding that, “All Scripture is given by the inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17 NKJV).”  If we want holiness and righteousness, we must approach the Bible with an open heart.  We must allow God to speak through His word that we may, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may approve what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God (Romans 12:2 NKJV).”

What then of peace?  If we truly want peace, peace with God that allows peace to grow in us by the work of the Holy Spirit, we must allow His word to abide in us.  We must put away notions that His word is antiquated, for God does not change.  We must also resist the urge to ignore scriptures that challenge us; for in doing so, we deny the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives calling us toward conviction.  It is only when we allow His work in us that peace can grow through the aligning of our lives to the will of God.