The Secret to True Inner Peace
This is the first message in a series where I am going to discuss inner peace, fulfillment and dominating life, all of these sort of around the theme of succeeding in life. I believe that God wants us to succeed and dominate in every area of our lives. I know not everyone believes that, but it’s the truth. I want to get there and I want to help other people get there.
We will discuss really dominating life another day, but a simple look at some of Jesus’ statements would back me up: all things are possible to those who believe, nothing shall by any means hurt you, ask anything of God in My Name and He will do it for you, speak to a mountain and it will move, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, etc. etc. If we just took these statements and believed them a huge part of our outlook on life would change.
Regarding success, I used to think that if I found what God wanted me to do then that would solve all my problems and I would be happy and successful. But I realize now it’s not that simple. I see that to truly succeed, I need to succeed on the inside. And that if I succeed inside and outside, I can dominate ever area of my life. God wants all of this for us.
I look at internal success as a combination of inner peace and fulfillment. Imagine that you had true inner peace within yourself. Then imagine that you knew all the good works your Creator planned for you and you were doing them. What could provide better fulfillment, where you truly believe you are having your appropriate impact on the world. I’m not saying inner peace and fulfillment are all there is to existence, but that would be a pretty good start. Today I’m going to focus on inner peace and next time we will talk about fulfillment.
Inner peace, I mean true inner peace from a Biblical perspective, is a lost treasure that I believe few people experience. I also believe that this Biblical inner peace that I’m talking about is a very important key to dominating every area of your life. You have probably never heard anyone talk about inner peace the way I’m going to today, but bear with me and you will see what I mean. You’ll see why this Biblical inner peace is so important. I’m not just talking about freedom from anxiety and being calm. I’m talking about a true harmony within yourself. If we can get our internal situation right, the external will follow.
So what do I mean by inner peace? I don’t mean that we never experience problems, anxiety or fear, we live in a fallen world and the devil is the god of this period of time (2 Corinthians 4:4). Furthermore, if you are working to expand God’s Kingdom, you are a target for unclean spirits and you need to be ready for attacks. That’s another thing we should talk about sometime. However, inner peace can mean that, despite what is happening in the world around us, we are at peace with ourselves and how we approach life and its issues. If I could have a unified life force, a unified experience of self, then I could bring all that I am (including all of my relationship with God and spiritual realities) to every situation, and I could do my best to advance God’s Kingdom and bless the world around me.
If I could be all that God created me to be in every moment, in every situation, then I could experience God’s best in all of them. This is how I am supposed to be experiencing life and impacting the world.
I know some of those words may sound fake spiritual or like some sort of mysticism, but honestly I’m trying to find words for ideas that I see in the Bible that I have never heard anyone talk about. I’m not suggesting these ideas are new to me, I just don’t think I have heard them talked about before in a Christian setting, with a Biblical structure.
The point is that you, yes you my dear friend, can experience a unified existence inside yourself. From that place you can succeed in every area of your life, with Godly success, and you can be joyful while doing it with no more inner turmoil. When a unified you begins working with the Spirit of God, you will have the effect on the world that you were always meant to have. When you find yourself doing that, you are moving on to the next level of existence, the existence a Christian is meant to have. So let’s get started.
We must first understand the reason for inner turmoil and how to beat it. The problem is that we have divisions inside ourselves. If we can reconcile those divisions we will be at peace, at least with ourselves. Let’s get a handle on these divisions to know our enemy and see the possible reconciliation.
We humans are hard wired to look out for ourselves and our own needs as a survival instinct. A child is selfish and cries to get what it wants. As a child grows he or she begins learning rules. The child wants to eat all the cookies, but mom says only one. The child wants to play with all the toys, but the teacher says the child must share. These first rules are usually infused with morality. You must share because you need to be nice to the other kids. Therefore, if you are not nice to the other kids you are bad. Part of me doesn’t really want to share, so part of me wants something that’s bad, or part of me is bad. But another part of me wants to obey and be good, as there is also some love and community hard wired into us. You get the idea. Not only is there a division between what I want and the rules. There is also a division within me because part of me wants to obey, and part doesn’t.
If you will look, you will see that these divisions invade many, many areas of your life. You can also understand how these divisions are a significant source of mental issues especially guilt and self-loathing. You want fast food, but you want to be healthy. You want to yell when your child misbehaves, but you want to be loving. You want to be generous, but you also want to save. These problems are literally everywhere. Many times there is no truly correct choice, so we don’t even feel good about the choices we make. These problems create these conflicts, and we go through life experiencing inner conflict all the time. We have conflict inside of ourselves, where we simultaneously want two different things. We also have conflicts between us and the outside world, where we want something that some external factor is saying we shouldn’t have.
A human being is an eternal spirit, which lives in a body, and which has a soul (mind, will, emotions) (1 Thessalonians 5:23). There are divisions within each of these, and then there are divisions between them. When a person becomes a Christian, these divisions do not disappear (except in the spirit), in fact I think they get worse until they are resolved, and helping you with that is one of the main points of this writing.
When you become a Christian, your spirit is immediately recreated (born again) by God Himself (1 John 5:1, 5:18, John 3). God’s Spirit gives birth to your spirit again, and now you are God’s child. Your spirit is perfect in the eyes of God, and when your body dies your spirit will go to Heaven. Your spirit immediately thinks and acts like God, and your spirit has direct access to the Spirit of God for everything it wants or needs (see Romans 8, Ephesians 1).
Unfortunately, those amazingly wonderful transformations do not happen to your body or your soul. So if you were a drug addict, or if you were addicted to some ungodly entertainment, or if you cussed habitually, or if you had any other negative behavior in the mind or in the flesh, you probably still had all of those things when you became a Christian. I know some of you were miraculously delivered of all sinful desires and behaviors, but most of us have to deal with them other ways.
So now as a new Christian you have a serious inner conflict. And let me say, I think this is a major problem, even for people we assume are mature Christians, and it doesn’t get talked about. I think honestly it’s because we haven’t recognized this clearly.
Your spirit is perfect and wants to do right in every way. Your soul, at least part of it, wants to start doing better and pleasing God, but it still has the memories of sin and the mental part of all your addictions, not to mention the innate selfishness that is still there. Your body still has the physical aspects of all addictions, and all the physical memories of all the sinful behaviors you previously enjoyed.
Let me try to state this clearly. When you first become a Christian, your spirit is perfect and wants to live perfectly. Your soul is now divided between part of your mind that wants to please God and part that still enjoys or clings to that which is wrong. And your body has experienced nothing for it to want to give up any bad behaviors it enjoys. This is a serious problem.
Most Christians start working on these issues, at least the obvious ones. We drink less or quit entirely. No more drugs. No more bad movies. We try to be nicer. At least that’s the idea. But the conflict remains. Part of us wants to do wrong, part of us wants to do right. When we do wrong we feel guilt. On good days we repent and draw closer to God and ask for help. On bad days we withdraw from God and dive deeper into the sin. This is something all Christians experience. The Apostle Paul talks about this conflict in Romans Chapter 7.
While most of our efforts to start living right are honorable, most people get this wrong by just focusing on the physical. But the physical is nothing more than a servant to the soul. Remember, your soul is your mind, will and emotions. You must renovate your soul to resolve these divisions and start seeing real change. Again, Paul talks about this conflict in Romans 7. And he gives us the cure in Romans 8. Here is the short version of the cure, the short version on renovating your soul and resolving the conflict – you must let your spirit dominate the other parts of you.
Let me expound on that idea significantly as it is extremely important. You must first acknowledge your perfect spiritual reality. I am speaking to Christians here. You are perfect, you are God’s child, God loves you more than you can fathom, and you have complete and bonded access to God through His Spirit which now is bonded to your spirit and actually lives in your physical body (1 Corinthians 6:17-19). Crazy as all of that sounds, it is the truth.
So you acknowledge your spiritual reality, and then you officially elect your spirit as the most important part of you, the captain of your existence. “I am a spirit, I have a soul, and I live in a body.” Start saying that to yourself to put the spirit first place. Now, I let the spirit dominate me. If I can let the spirit dominate me, then I can dominate life for the Kingdom of God.
What does the spirit want? Well, if the spirit is perfect and Godly, the spirit wants to love people, the spirit wants to help people, the spirit wants to honor God and others in everything it does. The spirit wants to exhibit the character traits of God (also known as the fruits of the Spirit), love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22). Your spirit wants to do all that God created it to do.
That probably sounds pretty good, if not a little crazy. It sounds pretty good to most people when they hear these ideas of the first time (a Christian should be loving, ok sounds great). The true things of God are attractive to everyone. It’s the rule following, and misunderstanding the rules, that pushes people away (but I digress). People like the ideas of love and peace and all of that, so they want to start exhibiting those in their lives. But this is much easier said than done, at least, if you’re anything like me, for more than 5 minutes at a time. Why is this so hard? This is hard because of the conflicts, because you still have a sinful soul and a sinful body. Therefore, you must bring them into line with what your spirit wants. Again, the spirit must be first.
So let me briefly reiterate some key points. The key to inner harmony is electing your spirit as the captain of your existence. Your spirit is perfect and wants your entire existence to be perfect. However, your soul and body are not perfect, and so these conflicts remain. We must learn how to renovate the soul to bring it under the spirit’s leadership.
Now despite the severity of the conflict, the cure is actually easier than we might think. We must renovate our souls, and to do that we must renovate our minds. This is also Romans 8 and is found clearly in Romans 12:2. In the same way that you renovate a kitchen (new cabinets, new appliances, etc.) you must do a complete gut job down to the studs renovation of your thinking. You do that by focusing your mind on the things of God, primarily Bible study, prayer and listening to good teaching. But you don’t just listen, you believe. You listen, you believe, and you allow all of it to change the way you think. This is becoming “spiritually minded” as Romans 8 describes, and it is one of the master keys to letting your spirit dominate and obtaining inner peace.
(Romans 8:5-6 NLT) “Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.”
When you become spiritually minded, or renovate your thinking according to the new Christian spirit inside of you, now your spirit and your mind will come into agreement. This is the first step to inner harmony. This won’t happen immediately, but it will happen. Stay the course. When your spirit and your mind agree, now living a Godly life starts getting easy, fun and exciting.
You were never meant to struggle against sinful desires and temptations the rest of your life. No, in fact you are meant to come up to a higher mental plane, where you clearly see the evils of sin and you don’t want them anymore. You should also see the greatness of living a Godly life, of doing all God wants you to do, and then you pursue that life with joy and excitement, come hell or high water.
Remember, your spirit is perfect and is bonded to God and is ready to lead you into the amazing plan God has for your life. When you get your mind to line up under your spirit, now your mind will think the way the spirit does. Godly living is good and fun. Sinful living is bad and not fun. Godly living becomes easy and joyful. Temptation and sin become easier to resist until you don’t even think about them anymore.
(Galatians 5:16 NIV) “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”
The character traits and desires of God will become natural to you. I’m going to say that again because it is so important. The character traits and desires of God will become natural to you. They will become a part of your nature. This is when you truly start to change on every level. I am not saying that I have arrived at where I need to be in this, but I have left where I was. To feel rejection for what God says is wrong. To feel love and attraction to what God says is right. To know that this is a 180 degree turn from the way I used to be. To know that this turn is the effect of God’s presence in my life. These are wonderful and exciting and I pray you experience them.
As you progress in this, you start becoming the best version of yourself, with a unified existence and experience of self. In fact, you start becoming the person you were always meant to be.
We were never meant to live in this world of conflict. It’s very difficult to imagine, but God never intended any of these conflicts to exist. Sin was never meant to exist. We were never even supposed to have original sin. We were supposed to come out of the womb with Godly spirits and then have our minds shaped directly by God and our perfect Godly parents and the Godly world around us. But now we are dealing with things that were never meant to exist. When we start to remove these conflicts, we start becoming the person God actually created, independent from the existence of sin and these conflicts.
I think that’s enough for today. Please listen to my podcast or read my blogpost on becoming truly spiritual. Becoming spiritually minded and living a spiritual life is the key to true inner harmony. When you get your spirit and your soul into agreement, the body is going to follow. The body does whatever your mind tells it to, even when it feels compelled to do otherwise, it must obey your brain.
Elect your spirit as the captain of your existence. Renovate your thinking according to the ways of God. Embrace the life that God calls you to lead, through His Word, through His Spirit, through the Godly teaching He puts into your life. You will experience an inner harmony you have never known, an inner harmony that is only available to a born again, Christian spirit. From this place, from this heightened experience of existence, with your relationship with God and spiritual realities, you can begin to dominate life, and you can begin impacting the world as God intended, in every moment, in every area of your life.