2 Thessalonians 1:6-10 ESV since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, (7) and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels (8) in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. (9) They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, (10) when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.
There is no peace when the wicked are present in our lives. Yes, we who know Christ experience peace with God, but when it comes to having peace in relationships with others, real peace is unattainable when it comes to dealing with evil people. All domestic abuse victims and survivors know this. Day by day, moment by moment, there is anything but peace. Even when those brief appearances of peace come, they are counterfeit. Set ups for the next attack.
Now, most professing Christians and churches tell us that we can have relational peace with anyone. But the burden for attaining it is on our back. WE must forgive. WE must effect reconciliation. WE must be humble. WE must…convert those people to Christ! And this is presented as the only path to peace with “difficult” people.
But there is another way, and the Bible is filled with its descriptions.
Christ is the Prince of Peace, so I think we can assume He knows something about this subject. In His kingdom, when He comes again and ushers in the full consummation of His kingly rule, the new heavens and the new earth, the new humanity resurrected and inheriting all God’s promises, there will be perfect peace. And not a single wicked person will be there. No enemy. No reviler, no abuser, no accusers.
Why? Where did they go? The scripture above answers that question. Christ will take them out when He comes again. He isn’t going to reform them, save them, love them, embrace them so warmly that they cannot help but be magically transformed. No.
They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might,
And this is the other way to peace. We don’t effect it. We do not go get vengeance upon our enemies ourselves. We are to leave that to the Lord. Nevertheless, there is never going to be full and complete peace in this world and in our lives until the very last of the wicked is destroyed. And Christ is going to do it.
The claims made by so many supposed Christians today that “God can save anyone,” are patently false. I have had a few abuse victims get very angry with me when I show them this truth. They insist that “God is going to do a miracle and transform my abuser,” but they choose to disregard the truth that God will never change any unrepentant person. Furthermore, there ARE plenty of people who remain unrepentant right up to the end, and that is why there is a hell.
We can practice and experience, in part, this peace which comes from the removal of the wicked from our lives. No, not by wreaking literal vengeance upon them, but by separating from them as much as is possible. The more we try to “save” an abuser, the less peace we are going to have. This brand of wicked person sees efforts to work salvation in them as a sign of weakness on our part, a message that we are suckers for more abuse. We are not to cast the pearls of the gospel before pigs, but shake the dust off our shoes and move away from them.
Leaving an abuser is no easy task, and that for many reasons. But to the degree that we are able to cut off the wicked from our lives and look forward to the Day when Christ comes again to “deal out retribution” to them, to that degree peace will grow in our lives.