It is easy to recognize the Christian who is at rest – it will be evident in his/her appearance and in the eyes. In fact, rest, joy and peace ought to be the distinguishing characteristics of a Christian. Jesus said that he would provide rest, his joy and his peace.
The Bible speaks of various sources of conflict that could move the Christian out of a place of rest in Christ. Lets look at them and why they occur.
1. Galatians 5:17 “For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.” The primary source of conflict is when the flesh and Spirit compete for control. After salvation, it often takes a long time for the Holy Spirit to take complete control of the individual as the flesh does not easily submit to God. I have seen in my own life and have begun to discern in others this conflict between the flesh and the Spirit.
2. 1Peter 2:11 “Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul.” Indulgement of fleshly lusts creates a war/conflict in the soul – the mind, will and emotions.
3. James 4:4,5 “Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells within us yearns jealously.”” Love of the world and friendship with the world creates a conflict with the Holy Spirit within the individual.
4. Ephesians 6:12 “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Spiritual warfare could create a conflict in the mind. The spiritual atmosphere over cities differs and one could come under oppression in certain cities where the power of darkness has greater control. For example, the spiritual oppression in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia is so much more than in Chennai, India.
Breakdown in relationships are also a major cause of conflict. Here, I have noticed an evil under the sun – the inability of many Christians to see the error of their ways and to apologise for their wrongs. Even husband and wife have not learned that elementary lesson in Marriage 101 – acknowledging their mistakes and apologising for them to each other.
Paul speaks of conflict caused by persecution, so much so that he despaired even of life. He speaks of this in his two letters to the Corinthians. It is worth noting here that the Bible does not guarantee protection from persecution. We can pray to be kept from persecution and from the great trial that will come upon the earth, thats all.
Are you at rest? If you are not at rest, may I encourage you to check and find out why?
If the unrest is due to persecution, do pray that God will provide deliverance from wicked and unreasonable men. If the unrest is due to spiritual warfare, do press in, it is only for a season, don’t give up until you have won the victory and get back into the place of rest. If the unrest is due to any other reason as we have seen above, please take the time to deal with the cause of the unrest so that we may experience the rest that Jesus died to provide.