Precautions against false peace [for believers]
peace; when there is no peace."
...In case God disquiet [your]
heart about the guilt of its [sins], either in respect of its root and indwelling, or in respect of any eruptions of it, take
heed thou speakest not peace to thyself before God speaks it; but hearken what He says to thy soul...
is a business of great importance. It is a sad thing for a man to deceive his own soul herein. All the warnings God gives
us... to try and [to]examine ourselves, tend to the preventing of this great evil of speaking peace groundlessly to ourselves;
[blessing] ourselves, in an opposition to God...
1. That as it is the great prerogative and sovereignty of God to give grace to whom he pleases... God reserves
this privilege to himself, to speak peace to whom he pleaseth, and in what degree he pleaseth... He is the "God of all
consolation," in an especial manner in his dealing with believers... This the Lord insists on, Isa. 57:16-18... When
God says he will heal their breaches and disconsolations, he assumes this privilege to himself in an especial manner...
2. ...It is the prerogative of Christ to
speak it home to the conscience. Speaking to the church of Laodicea, who had healed her wounds falsely, and spoke peace to
herself when she ought not, he takes to himself that title, "I am the Amen, the faithful Witness," Rev 3:14. He
bears testimony concerning our condition as it is indeed. We may possibly mistake, and trouble ourselves in vain, or flatter
ourselves upon false grounds, but he is the "Amen, the faithful Witness;" and what he speaks of our state and condition,
that it is indeed. Isa. 11:3, He is said not to "judge after the sight of his eyes," -- not according to any outward
appearance, or any thing that may be subject to a mistake, as we are apt to do; but he shall judge and determine every cause
as it is indeed.
...I shall give some rules whereby men may know whether God speaks peace to them, or whether they speak peace
to themselves only:--
A. Men certainly speak peace to themselves when their so doing is not attended with the
greatest detestation imaginable of that sin in reference whereunto they do speak peace to themselves, and abhorrency of themselves
When men are wounded by sin, disquieted and perplexed, and knowing that there is no remedy for them but
only in the mercies of God, through the blood of Christ, do therefore look to him, and to the promises of the covenant in
him, and thereupon quiet their hearts that it shall be well with them... And, yet their souls are not wrought to the
greatest detestation of the sin or sins upon the account whereof they are disquieted, -- this is to heal themselves, and not
to be healed of God.
This is but a great and strong wind, that the Lord is nigh unto, but the Lord is not in the
wind. [1 Kings 19]
When men do truly "look
upon Christ whom they have pierced," without which there is no healing or peace, they will "mourn", Zech. 12:10;
they will mourn for him, even upon this account, and detest the sin that pierced him...
When Job comes up to a
thorough healing, he cries, "Now I abhor myself," Job 42:6; and until he did so, he had no abiding peace. He might
perhaps have made up himself with that doctrine of free grace which was so excellently preached by Elihu, chapter 33 from
verse 14 unto 30; but he had then but skinned his wounds: he must come to self-abhorrency if he come to healing...
B. ...Suppose the wound and disquiet of the soul [is because] of relapses [into sin], -- ,[so the person finds] Isa. 55:7
[in his Bible:], "The Lord will have mercy, and our God will abundantly pardon," -- or... Hos. 14:4, "I will
heal their backsliding, I will love them freely." This the man considers, and thereupon concludes peace to himself; whether
the Spirit of God make the application or no, whether [the Spirit] gives life and power to the letter or no, that he regards
not. He doth not hearken whether God the Lord speak peace. He doth not wait upon God, who perhaps yet hides his face, and
sees the poor creature stealing peace and running away with it, knowing that the time will come when he will deal with him
again, and call him to a new reckoning; when he shall see that it is in vain to go one step where God doth not take him by
This is another appearance upon the mount; the Lord is near, but the Lord is not in it.
hath not been the work of the Spirit, who alone can "convince us of sin, and righteousness, and judgement," but
the mere actings of the intelligent, rational soul...
(ii.) ...I know God doth sometimes come in upon the soul instantly, in a moment, as it were, wounding
and healing it, --... but ordinarily... God calls for waiting and labouring, attending as the eye of a servant upon his master.
Says the prophet Isaiah, 8:17, "I will wait upon the Lord, who hideth his face from the house of Jacob." God will
have his children lie a while at his door when they have run from his house, and not instantly rush in upon him; unless he
take them by the hand and pluck them in, when they are so ashamed that they dare not come to him. Now, self-healers, or men
that speak peace to themselves, do commonly make haste; they will not tarry; they do not hearken what God speaks, but on they
will go to be healed.
(iii.) ...When God speaks peace, it guides and keeps the soul that it "turn not again
to folly." When we speak it ourselves, the heart is not taken off the evil... In God's speaking peace there comes
along so much sweetness, and such a discovery of his love, as is a strong obligation on the soul no more to deal perversely.
3. We speak peace to ourselves when we do it slightly. This the prophet complains of in some teachers: Jer. 6:14,
"They have healed the wound of the daughter of my people slightly." And it is so with some persons: they make the
healing of their wounds a slight work; a look, a glance of faith to the promises does it, and so the matter is ended. The
apostle tells us that "the word did not profit" some, because "it was not well tempered" and mingled with
faith. It is not a mere look to the word of mercy in the promise, but it must be mingled with faith until it is incorporated
into the very nature of it; and then, indeed, it doth good unto the soul. If thou hast had a wound upon thy conscience, which
was attended with weakness and disquietness, which now thou art freed of, how camest thou so? "I looked to the promises
of pardon and healing, and so found peace." Yea, but perhaps thou hast made too much haste, thou hast done it overtly,
thou hast not fed upon the promise so as to mix it with faith, to have got all the virtue of it diffused into thy soul; only
thou hast done it slightly. Thou wilt find thy wound, ere it be long, breaking out again; and thou shalt know that thou art
5. ...God's peace is humbling peace, melting peace, as it was in the case of David; never such deep
humiliation as when Nathan brought him the tidings of his pardon.
But you will say, "When may we take the
comfort of a promise as our own, in relation to some peculiar wound, for the quieting the heart?"
general, when God speaks it, be it when it will, sooner of later. I told you before, he may do it in the very instant of the
sin itself, and that with such irresistible power that the soul must needs receive his mind in it; sometimes he will make
us wait longer: but when he speaks, be it sooner or later, be it when we are sinning or repenting, be the condition of our
souls what they please, if God speak, he must be received. There is not any thing that, in our communion with him, the Lord
is more troubled with us for, if I may so say, than our unbelieving fears, that keep us off from receiving that strong consolation
which he is so willing to give to us.
But you will say, "We are where we were. When God speaks it, we must
receive it, that is true; but how shall we know when he speaks?"
...There is, if I may so say, a secret instinct
in faith, whereby it knows the voice of Christ when he speaks indeed; as the babe leaped in the womb when the blessed Virgin
came to Elisabeth, faith leaps in the heart when Christ indeed draws nigh to it. "My sheep," says Christ, "know
my voice," John 10:4; -- "They know my voice; they are used to the sound of it;" and they know when his lips
are opened to them and are full of grace. The spouse was in a sad condition, Cant. 5:2, -- asleep in security; but yet as
soon as Christ speaks, she cries, "It is the voice of my beloved that speaks!" She knew his voice, and was so acquainted
with communion with him, that instantly she discovers him; and so will you also. If you exercise yourselves to acquaintance
and communion with him, you will easily discern between his voice and the voice of a stranger. When he doth speak, he speaks
as never man spake; he speaks with power, and one way or other will make your "hearts burn within you," as he did
to the disciples, Luke 24. He doth it by "putting in his hand at the hole of the door," Cant. 5:4, -- his Spirit
into your hearts to seize on you...
Secondly, If the word of the Lord doth good to your souls, he speaks it; if
it humble, if it cleanse, and be useful to those ends for which promises are given, -- namely, to endear, to cleanse, to melt
and bind to obedience, to self-emptiness, etc.
from MORTIFICATION OF SIN IN BELIEVERS
by John Owens (1616-1683) [edited excerpts]
"And He took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town," and when away from
all, He gave him sight in a most gradual and sovereign manner, see Mark 8:23-25. The blind man could not see where Jesus was
leading him; he must confide entirely in Him; neither could he know why He should lead him along in darkness, when he had
asked to be restored to sight. If he reasoned, the thought would be, "Why not give it me at once?" But "my
thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the Lord." Deliverance seldom comes in the way we
look for it; (The Letters of Ruth Bryan, 1805-1860)
"You will find it turn to good account, if you
are helped to wait it out and watch it out, not as carnal Saul, to wait until a set time, and then if relief tarries--to endeavor
to extricate yourself. (1 Sam. 13:8, 15)" (The Letters of Ruth Bryan, 1805-1860)
Lamentations 3:25: "The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the
soul that seeketh him."
Isaiah 30:18: "...blessed are all they that wait for him."
"for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me."
Psalm 27:14: "Wait on the LORD: be of good courage,
and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD."