False Peace

Tommy McClure
Antioch, California

The prophet Ezekiel said much by way of reproof and condemnation for the false prophets of his day. In Ezekiel 13 he condemned them for their false promises of peace to the people of God - promises made at a time when God's people were in great danger! In verses 8 and 9 he thunders forth God's condemnation of the false prophets in these words: "Therefore thus saith the Lord God; because ye have spoken vanity, and seen lies, therefore, behold, I am against you, saith the Lord God. And mine hand shall be upon the prophets that see vanity, and that divine lies: they shall not be in the assembly of my people, neither shall they be written in the writing of the house of Israel, neither shall they enter into the land of Israel; and ye shall know that I am the Lord God." The reason for this attitude toward them is given in verse 10: "Because, even because they have seduced my people, saying, Peace; and there was no peace"

Giving false hopes of peace which lulled men into a false security were the usual evil work of the false prophets of Old Testament times (See Micah 3:5; Jer. 6:13, 14; 23:16, 17; etc.) However, the false prophets were not the only ones to blame, for, as Isaiah shows people who were rebellious toward God wanted the very thing false prophets had to offer. Through Isaiah God said, "Now go, write it before them in a table, and note it in a book, that it may be for the time to come for ever and ever: That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the Lord: Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits: Get you out of the way, turn aside out of the path, cause the Holy One of Israel, to cease from before us" (Isa. 30:8-10). False prophets were glad to accommodate the desires of the people, so they preached peace when there was no peace. Jerusalem had been warned by the true prophets, but false prophets cried, "Peace, peace!" in opposition to the warnings for the purpose of soothing the people in their sins. It was the age-old problem of TRUTH versus ERROR!

There is much false peace in the world today and it is produced in the very same way it was brought about in Old Testament times: some people do not want the truth and false teachers oblige them by preaching peace when there is no peace.

There is the peace of unbelief now as then. The threatening of judgments were then discredited and the same thing is done today. When the threats of judgment are stressed in preaching today, some will scoff and refer to it as "that old hell fire and brimstone doctrine." (But see such passages as: Matt. 23: 33; 25:41; Mk. 9:43, 44; Rev. 20:15; 21:8). Many do not believe these passages simply because they do not want to believe them. They do not want to believe them because they want to continue in their sinful ways with a feeling of peace. This is why the heathen did not like to retain God in their knowledge (Rom. 1: 18-32). Unbelief best accords with the conduct of one who is determined to continue in sin. Jesus well described the attitude of such people toward the truth when He said, "And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved" (John 3:19, 20). The Psalmist shows that sinners do not Want God to exist. He said, "The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good" (Ps. 14: 1). Note who denied God's existence: those who were "corrupt" and did "abominable works!" In their denial of God's existence they could continue to sin with a feeling of peace. Friends, if you are enjoying the peace which comes from unbelief, be assured that is a FALSE PEACE and that the wall which you have daubed with untempered mortar is sure to fall! (Read Ezek. 13: 1016).

Also, there is the peace of self-satisfaction. The true prophets were quick to condemn sin and their preaching made it difficult for sinners to feel at ease. However, the false prophets flattered with smooth words and gave them the feeling they desired without any change from their sinful course of action. This they wanted; and this they were quick to accept. Today, many want teaching which minimizes sin and guilt; teaching which lulls the conscience; teaching which does not disturb self-satisfaction; teaching which does not demand a radical change from their present sinful course; and teaching which will "lift up" and give them a "peaceful feeling" as they continue on in their disobedience! False teachers quickly bow to their demands and preach so as to nourish the peace which they desire - A FALSE PEACE.

Another false peace is the peace of "live and let live." This is the peace desired by those who tell us, "Just preach the gospel and let everybody alone- don't disturb the peace of the community by exposing and condemning the doctrines of other churches; go on your way and let them go theirs!" (Note: This is one reason why I know some in the church of Christ believe one church is just as good as another!) If this sentiment were universally followed, preaching and defending the truth would be eliminated and those in error would never be warned. This is not God's way! To Ezekiel God said, "So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me. When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou doest not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from it; if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul" (Ezek. 33:7-9). This passage plainly shows that if the prophet did not warn those in iniquity, he would not deliver his soul (nor would theirs be delivered) and that he would be guilty of their blood. Question: Is this the course to pursue to obtain real peace? Definitely not! Truly, such would put one at peace with those in iniquity! But, who cannot see that to trade peace with God for peace with those in iniquity is a poor and stupid bargain??? This realization should cause all of God's people and all congregations of God's people to show more aggressiveness in the condemnation of error and the proclamation of truth - always, of course maintaining the attitude of love for the precious souls of men.

Finally, there is the false peace of presumption. Many have a feeling of peace because they presume on God's goodness; i. e., they feel that God is too good and loving to really carry out the threats of punishment expressed in His word. This attitude is productive of a multitude of evils: (1) it causes doubt to arise in the hearts of many. Their natural and logical conclusion is: if God does not mean and will not do what he says on one point, why should I believe Him on any other point? Let those who are guilty of the presumption under consideration here try their hand at answering that question! (2) It causes children of God to be slack in their duties of teaching and warning. (3) It causes carelessness, indifference, and sin of many types. Yea, though it brings a feeling of peace to many, it is a false peace! Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, spoke of God as a God of goodness AND severity: "Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off" (Rom. 11:22). The same apostle said, "Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men" (2 Cor. 5: 11). Again, he said, "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (Heb. 10:31). And again, he declared, ". . . our God is a consuming fire" (Heb. 12:29). If your peace is derived from the idea that God is so good He will let you get by although you flout His will (whether on the plan of salvation, the work of the church, worship, or any other matter) YOUR PEACE IS FALSE!

The only true peace is peace with God) and it is to be had only through Jesus Christ (See Rom. 5: 1). To enjoy this peace one must meet the requirements of Christ (Heb. 5:9) which include becoming a member of His church (God's family) and faithful Christian living. This is the way to have true, lasting, valuable peace. Friend, do you possess and enjoy the peace of God which passeth all understanding???

September 1969