There is a reason why so many people are unhappy, why there is so much conflict between individuals. Isaiah pinpointed the trouble long ago: “We have turned, everyone, to his own way” (Isaiah 53:6).
You like your own ideas, plans, aspirations, and longings. So does everyone else. Thus when a person encounters resistance to his wishes, or faces demands that are not to his or her liking, they tend to rebel, to attack, to run, or to defend themselves. Our natural reaction is to be resentful, bitter, stubborn and full of fight. It is easy for us to think that our own desires are the reasonable ones. We will find a way to make a selfish drive seem selfless, deceiving even ourselves.
The patterns of deceit and self-defense are so systematized that their names are common dictionary words. But there is hope. Since in this presentation we are looking to the Bible as our guide, we can turn to it not only for a description of man as he naturally is, but for the path away from our disturbances, neuroses, and psychoses and to peace.
“Great peace have those who love Your law, and nothing causes them to stumble,” said the psalmist in Psalm 119:165. Is this possible?
Many persons turn to a counselor for help because they are in circumstances that offend them or have caused them to stumble. They are dissatisfied, irritated and unhappy. Either they flee from the vexing situation or attack it. One would think that people would rush to buy a book that pointed out the path to peace and freedom from offense. People do buy it by the millions every year. The Bible continues to be the all-time bestseller. But many persons quickly lay it aside.
Though man’s hope lies in God and His Word, many people quickly turn aside from the Bible because it reproves and corrects. Man simply does not like the truth about himself that he finds in God’s Word.
Churches are criticized because their ministers upset people when they preach about the sinfulness of man and the inflexible standards of the Bible. People have often turned to me as a counselor because their pastor has upset them. Having listened to him preach about sin, they feel guilty and inadequate. As they relate the details of their stories, it invariably turns out that they were much happier before they began attending church and studying the Bible. Therefore, could it not be reasonable to conclude that their problems were caused by what they heard and read? To remove the cause would seem to relieve the person’s anxiety. And this has long been advocated. There is wide spread pressure on ministers to preach “positive” messages and to emphasize the good in man.
Of course, the knowledge of sin produces such results. But the immediate comfort of a person is of little value if there is, in fact, sin in the person’s life. To diagnose sin, however disturbing it may be, is a positive act.
The minister, counselor, or friend cannot determine what the diagnosis will be. I cannot determine what my client brings to me. If there is selfishness, touchiness, irritability, stubbornness, rebellion, hate, or deceit within the person, it simply is there. I didn’t put it there, but it is my responsibility to point out its presence. This may be upsetting. But I have found no other way. I have never known a person to discover the sin that is causing his trouble by my dwelling on his good qualities. And I have never found a way of pointing out a man’s sin to him that makes him clap his hands with glee at the news. Jesus Christ emphasized this when He said of sinners: “But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life” (John 5:40).
There is a power that will enable you to face your circumstances without distress. It is the power of God, made available to you through the dying of the Lord Jesus. God’s power – and His alone – can make you want to forgive one who has misused you. It is a mystery how a man finally quits fighting and turns to God for a spirit of love toward someone who does not deserve it. All we know is that there is generally a struggle before a man yields.
But when he does yield, his problem is nearly over. The Bible says it is your move. “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
To see your sin is disturbing only if you fight what you discover. If, instead, you admit it and seek help from God, the result is not guilt, but an overwhelming sense of forgiveness, cleansing, renewal, and peace.
The pathway to spiritual peace is a struggle. Discover the truth about yourself and you will naturally shrink from it; become offended and defensive and you will be bound in the strong fetters of your sin.
But what a difference you will find if you heed the promise of Jesus: “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31b-32).
This information is an excerpt of chapter 8 from Dr. Brandt’s book The Struggle for Inner Peace currently available as an e-book.